I’m not sure whether my Mom exposed herself to too much Aqua Net or drank too much Tab Cola, but I was born with a defect: I have never been able to tell my left from my right.
But before you begin to question my intelligence, I have a great sense of direction – I can tell you where every store is located in any mall that I’ve ever been to. I can even tell you whether I’m looking North, South, East, or West at any given moment, but tie my hands behind my back and ask me whether you’re on my right or my left, then prepare yourself for much laughter and scoffing at my disability.
Although Noah’s fate is not yet known, Ali did not inherit my disability. I don’t know who taught her right and left (I was too afraid to attempt such because I’d probably get it backwards and ruin her life forever), but she’s been correcting my errors for years.
When I have a need to be accurate, my rings are my cheat sheet.
If you ask me for directions, you have to be quick, but you’ll catch me casting a stealthy glance down to my hands to see which one houses my wedding rings. Or if I’m feeling really self-conscious, I might just feel both of my ring fingers with my thumb.
(I know, I know, I’m supposed to do that “stick your thumb out and create an L” thing, but then I’d probably get confused then about which way an L was supposed to be written, because I’m illiterate like that.)
So the real complications happen when I need to take off my rings.
Like last week, when making hamburger patties.
I prefer my rings free of raw ground cow guts (RGCG), so to form our hamburgers, I took my rings off and set them on the table. I molded the RGCG, washed my hands, and then went to put my rings back on.
I have three rings: my engagement ring, my wedding ring, and my Mommy Ring with kid’s birthstones, which Chris created on my favorite-ever jewelry site, Gemvara, in January for my Jug Present*.
*Jug Present: my husband’s creation of the sequel to a Push Present (or, in my case, a Cut-You-Open-From-Side-To-Side Present), which is to be received upon the closing of the breastfeeding era.
I stared at my pile of rings for a minute, trying to remember to which hand each belonged. But then the hamburgers needed my attention, so I quickly guessed and got back to work.
One day later, I was offering technical support to another Vault rep for our computer program.
“You should see so-and-so on the left side of the screen, and such-and-such on the right.”
“No, nothing is showing up on the right side of the screen, and such-and-such is showing up on the left.”
I double checked my hands to ensure that I’d told her correctly. Yes, yes I had.
“Well, clearly something isn’t right – you need to call technical support and get that fixed up.”
Another day later, I happened to look down at my hands.
And noticed that they didn’t look quite right.
Were my right and left backwards? Yes, yes – I think they were. But how to know for sure?
I put my rings on the opposite hands.
No, that didn’t quite look right either.
I swapped them again. And stared.
I swapped them again. And stared some more.
I tried to remember how I used to know my left from my right in my pre-marriage days.
Ah! Yes, my scar from breaking my arm in the seventh grade.
But then I had to remember more. Was the arm I broke my left arm or my right arm? And why is this so complicated?? And why can’t I just be normal?? Real people don’t have to do these things.
Let’s see….I’m left-handed…and I could still write when I had a broken arm…so it had to have been my right hand.
I put my rings on with the visual aid of my scars – there, that must be correct.
And then I tried to remember which they originally were…and wasn’t quite sure. Had I been right or wrong for two days? To how many people had I issued erroneous directions?
But at least they’re right for now.