1. If you are not afraid of seeming foolish, ask someone. You may feel more comfortable asking one of your parents (they should have taught you this anyway), a sibling, or a trusted friend.
  2. Send a photograph in which your entire upper body is visible, along with a financial statement, to me, Michael Snider, at 18015 Trossbach Rd., Dameron, MD 20628. Jpegs or gifs can be sent to mandolin@mikesnider.org. I will return the image with your right hand clearly marked. Your bill will reflect your ability to pay.
  3. Find a wall clock. Wait till the minute hand points to the 3. (The hour hand works just as well, but you may have to wait 12 hours.) Facing the clock, extend an arm away from your body so that it points in the same direction as the clock hand. That arm is your right arm: on the end of it is your right hand.
  4. Find a history book with a picture of American Civil War troops being trained to march. Hay is tied to the right foot; straw is tied to the left. Imagine yourself in that photograph--your right hand is above your right foot. I'm not sure how to tell hay from straw.
  5. As you sit in the front passenger seat of an American made car, or a car manufactured for sale in the United States, your right hand is the one you can easily stick out the window. Never do this in a moving car, as you may accidentally strike a mailbox and lose the hand you've gone to such trouble to identify.
  6. Have someone throw a ball to you. If you are not a baseball player, you will probably catch it in your right hand. If you are a baseball player, you will have a Dixie cup full of tobacco spit and wear a large leather glove on your left hand—unless you are left-handed. Most people aren't.
  7. Throw a ball to one hundred randomly chosen people. Carefully note which hand each person uses to catch it, ignoring those who use two hands. Unless you have inadvertently chosen baseball players, most will use their right hands. Compare their bodies to your own—your right hand will be like theirs, only bigger or smaller, with more or fewer calluses, or a different color. The tests you use to discover whether you are a baseball player apply to other people as well.
  8. Write something. Odds are that the hand you used to hold your pen is the right hand. If you use a typewriter or a word processor, this test won't work, but a pencil is OK. Unfortunately, like the two previous tests, this one depends on statistical inference, and since you don't know your right from your left, it's unlikely you are a statistician or a quantum physicist. If you are a quantum physicist, look in one of your old electrodynamics textbooks for an illustration of the right hand rule. The hand of yours which most resembles the hand in the illustration is your right hand.
  9. This method assumes that you have no problems with gender identification, or at a minimum that you are not a cross-dresser. If you are male--see my poem "10 Ways to Identify Your Sex"—your front-buttoning shirt (of course you know your front from your back), when worn right side out, will have buttons on the right side and button holes on the left. Your right hand is on the same side as the buttons. If you are female, the button holes will be on the right and the buttons on the left. Your right hand is on the side with the holes. This test works best with short-sleeved shirts, since buttons at the cuffs can be confusing.
  10. Pick one. You have a fifty-fifty chance of being correct. If you are psychic, the odds are better, unless some powerful and evil entity is bent on thwarting you. Of course, that may explain your present predicament.

(published in Matrix #48, 1996)


Comments?