I am very depressed by the news these days. But, believe me, it’s not what you think. It’s all because I’m left-handed, an extrovert and a writer of poetry.

My pathetic condition actually stems from a 1991 report in the U.S. journal Psychological Bulletin claiming that left-handed people don’t live as long as those who are right-handed: by as much as seven years!

Apparently, the longevity records of American baseball players show that not one left-handed slugger ever lived past the age of 85. (A similar British study of cricketers put the right-left longevity gap at only two years. When I read it, I immediately phoned my 93-year-old mother and admonished her for not moving to the United Kingdom for my delivery.)

As if having to face an early death was not enough, an article in the New Scientist in December 2004 stated that southpaws are more violent than people who do things with their right hand. It seems that, according to the article, there are more homicides in countries with a higher proportion of left-handed people than right-handers.

These results are very disturbing.

I recall another study, many years ago, which was reported with the headline: “45% of New York Doctors Prefer Camels.” I had to read it three times before I realized they were talking about cigarettes.

And there’s the thing about being an extrovert. Actually, it all goes back to a traumatic experience I had when I was 14 and I was running for the office of Boys’ Vice President at Louis Pasteur Junior High School in Los Angeles. When I confessed some misgivings about running for high office to my mother, she gingerly gripped my jacket lapels, peered into my eyes, and said: “Remember, Roger, there is no such thing as an overachiever!” I’ve been an extrovert ever since.

An easy notion to swallow

I was happy about that until I read the results of another survey, of 545 people, published this year in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. Experts found that extroverts are more likely to end up in the hospital than introverts. Is that fair? The same study found that extroverts had more sex than introverts. Frankly, I find that an easy notion to swallow.

Speaking of sex, one news item recently really threw me into quite a tizzy.

At the end of last month, the prestigious British journal, The Proceedings of the Royal Society, published the results of a study of 425-odd men and women. These folks were asked how many sexual partners they had had. It was found (and the findings will reverberate forever in the world of arts and letters) that professional artists and poets have approximately twice as many sexual partners as those “who do not indulge in” (to quote the study) such seemingly innocent aesthetic pursuits.

Professional artists and poets enjoy between four and 10 sexual partners, while non-artists and non-poets have to get by with a bare three.

I decided to get to the bottom of this once and for all, and figured that the best way was to see first who exactly was left-handed and how long they were able to carry out a violent lifestyle.

Jack the Ripper was a leftie, but so is the American evangelist Pat Robertson. That may come as no surprise, but Albert Schweitzer was also a southpaw — which leads me to wonder what he was really up to all those years in Africa. (Schweitzer was 90 when he died, but then again, to my knowledge, he never played professional baseball.)

Other left-handed celebrities include Leonardo da Vinci, a gay leftie, but I won’t go there; non-poet Benjamin Franklin, who definitely had more illegitimate children than Robert Frost; Col. Oliver North (he managed to stay out of the hospital); and Queen Victoria. Add famous lefties Fidel Castro, Bart Simpson, Robert McNamara and Kermit the Frog, and you can draw your own conclusions about who’s the more violent and who isn’t.

There have been seven left-handed presidents of the United States, five of them since World War II. This, to my mind, must be the clinching explanation of why America has become such a violent country. Presidents Truman, Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton shot from the left, with the three in the middle of that list all ending up on the far right.

Greater reproductive success

These studies linking behavior with physical or personality traits are fascinating, and they are by no means limited to handedness, extroversion or the ability to paint or compose verse.

Archives of Sexual Behavior reported in June 2005, in an article titled “A Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Role of Foot Size in Physical Attractiveness,” that women with small feet are more attractive to men than those with big feet. Well, the ancient Chinese didn’t need a scientific study to know that! Combine this with another study claiming that short women have greater reproductive success than tall women, and the picture certainly starts to become clear.

So, my advice to you guys out there desirous of companionship is to post the following notice on your favorite dating site:

“Sincere Japan Times reader anxious to meet short right-handed woman with small feet. No painters or poetesses please!”

When you find your ideal lady, not only will she be faithful to you, provide you with many children, live a long time and save you money on medical bills, but you can be sure — thanks to the size of her feet — that she won’t be likely to kick you under the covers at night.

As for me, I’m pretty crushed. All of these studies have landed me in the soup with my wife.

I have crossed my heart and promised her to immediately cease writing poetry, throw away my old Spalding catcher’s mitt, cultivate new shy ways of having intercourse with people, and use my right hand for everything except punching the buttons to withdraw cash from an ATM.

People can change if there is sufficient incentive. Look at those New York doctors. I doubt if you could find one who would touch a Camel today.

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