At the tender age of six, my mother signed me up for ballet classes. I guess it was always her dream for her son to have been raised a daughter. I don’t know.
Anyway, in one of those classes, the teacher, whose name escapes me but whose compassion will be forever etched in my memory, wanted me to help her demonstrate a position called the Arabesque. She asked me to step forward, stand with both legs straight, and then lift my right leg behind me.
At that moment I realized that I didn’t know my right leg from left. And here I was, the only boy in an all-girls class, dressed in a black unitard like the rest of them, on the verge of adding one more humiliation to the list. I froze in my place, unable to risk lifting a random leg.
Noticing that I wasn’t following her repeated instructions, she approached me and kneeled down to my level. “Are you ok?” she whispered in my ear. And there it was! My opportunity!
I pretended to be sad and said, “I’m sad. I don’t want to do this,” and started fake crying. She patted me on the back and said, “Don’t worry, you can do it,” and grabbed my right leg to lift it! Yes! I now know which one was my right leg!
And that, ladies and gents, is how I learned right from left forever, while also discovering that I have the capacity to cry on demand.