It all starts with the left hand

I like to watch boxing when I can. Yes, it’s both violent and dangerous, but it’s not called the “sweet science” for nothing. You better be in shape and at your best when get you in that squared circle, because there is just no place to hide.

In fact, my father and I never had much in common other than being related — not books, music, TV, most sports, or really anything. But one thing we both liked was “Friday Night Fights” when that was a regular thing. I really looked forward to spending some quality time with my dad watching something that we both enjoyed immensely. Good times.

So the other night, I’m watching some boxing. The match had just started. Every match is different because each bout pitches two unique individual styles, experiences, and levels of conditioning against each other. You truly never know what’s going to happen in a boxing match.

Then the commentator said this: “It all starts with the left hand.”

He of course was referring to what’s known as the “jab,” which for a right-handed boxer is when you use your left hand to set up your right, your power punch, if you have one (and hopefully you do or it might not be a good night). But I got that phrase “it all starts with the left hand” stuck in my head and then it occurred to me that commentator might be on to something.

I’m right handed, and when I went to grade school we spent a lot of time on cursive writing and penmanship. That’s why it kills me to think that this skill is no longer being taught in some schools. You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s fundamental!

But anyway, when I was taught penmanship it was my left hand that held the paper so my right hand could make decent, legible cursive script (not now unfortunately that doesn’t happen unless I go very slowly). In fact, without the left hand, I couldn’t have written a thing.

One of the Jack Reacher books features a beautiful female agent practicing at the shooting range. In one of the classic man-teaching-a-sexy-woman-something moves, he slides up behind her and shows her how to take all the weight of the gun in her left hand, using her right only to pull the trigger. Of course, it works great. I haven’t shot in a long time, but it totally makes sense to me to do it that way.

If you work with tools, you know the left hand, for righties like me, is very important. How could you saw or drill if you didn’t hold the work piece in your left hand? Even with clamps, it’s still good to use the left hand for added support. It just makes you feel that much more in control, which is always a good thing when working with tools, especially power tools, which can be very dangerous.

I spend a good part of my day at a keyboard, for better or worse. While many people think desk jobs are cushy, it turns out sedentary work is terrible for your body in many ways (loss of flexibility, muscle tone, and aerobic conditioning for starters).

Often at the keyboard I have to use my right hand to click the mouse for something or other, but many times I can use my left hand for a quick keyboard shortcut that saves a lot of time. These really do work, and keep your hands by the keyboard where they can stay busy. In fact, many computer pros rarely use the mouse at all because they get so good with the keyboard shortcuts.

Of course, if you’ve ever made good Italian sauce from scratch, you know you taste with the small spoon in your right hand while stirring with the big spoon in your left hand. Keep stirring and tasting, stirring and tasting. It’s a tough job but somebodys gotta do it.

If you ride a motorcycle, you know the throttle is controlled by the right hand. Vroom-vroom; it’s the right hand that makes you go. But if you ride, you most certainly know that twisting the throttle is the easy part. The left hand controls the clutch, and it’s the smooth operation of the gears and the clutch that separates the good riders from the great riders.

There are some riders who can shift gears so well it’s almost like they have an automatic transmission. That’s how skilled they are, and efficient clutch control with the left hand is a huge part of that.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a car making out with someone, but that left hand comes in really important during those intimate moments, let me tell you. In fact, I think they hire special testers to make bra clasps very hard to unhook with one hand

Been like that forever and I doubt it will ever change. If there was ever a rite of passage for a man’s left hand, that was it for sure. Only Fonzie from TV’s “Happy Days” could do it perfectly every time, and that’s why they call it fiction.

If you should ever be so fortunate to do extensive travel and find yourself in an Arab country or around Arab people, be especially careful with your left hand. In those societies. the left hand is considered unclean and should never touch food, shake hands, or even wave.

This is a very big taboo within this culture — the left hand is used for personal functions only. Being that we have so many ethnic restaurants now, even in the Capital District, this is a really good tip to know. Just remember: Your left hand remains in your lap while dining.

Maybe that boxing announcer, when he said, “It all starts with the left hand,” was truly on to something. Of course, if you want to give me a “left-handed compliment” for this column I totally understand.