4. Left-Handed pranks and tricks
Left-handedness has a long tradition of being associated with pranks, whether tricking the new apprentice at work or "hazing" a new College Student.
Sending the new kid to fetch a left-handed item that doesn't exist has been a favourite prank for countless generations, and a list of examples has been compiled by the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE). They asked participants from across the United States about “ways of teasing a beginner or inexperienced person – for example, by sending him for a ‘left-handed monkey wrench’.”
A monkey-wrench – better known to English-speakers outside North America as an adjustable spanner – has no handedness, of course. It’s not like a guitar, which has to be specially made for southpaws.
A brand-new construction worker might not know that though, or that there’s no such thing as a left-handed hammer**, and he might be reluctant to question the orders of a new boss, so duly sets off on his fruitless search much to the delight of his older colleagues.
Would a new restaurant busboy or dishwasher know that there isn’t such a thing as a left-handed sugar bowl, coffee cup, or frying pan? Maybe not, but confusing people in this way has become a time-honoured tradition. DARE’s respondents gave 38 different kinds of imaginary left-handed things for which they’d send the greenhorn, newbie, or novice.
||** On the subject of left-handed hammers, we were recently told by a builder, himself a proud leftie, that he has come across a hammer that is weighted to work better in the left hand. Despite our disbelief, he is adamant that such a tool exists. His theory is that you do not hit "straight on" with a hammer, but slightly across your body from the shoulder towards the nail directly in front of you, and a hammer head which is weighted slightly on one side helps increase the efficiency of each blow.
If any of you have ever heard of this, or any other left-handed variants on tools that really do exist, please let us know, otherwise we may have to add the weighted left-handed hammer to the list of "fantasy tools" above, next to the monkey wrench!