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S.L. ENTREPRENEUR AIMS TO HELP `LEFTIES' COPE WITH LIVING IN A RIGHT-SELFISH, SELF-RIGHTEOUS WORLD

A popular sticker around town reads: "Hire the left-handed, it's fun to watch them write."

A popular trivia question asks: "What did Jack the Ripper, the Boston Strangler and Ted Bundy have in common?" Answer: They were lefties.It's true. Lefties tend to get the back of the hand. Southpaw pitchers have a reputation for being flakes; left-handers at dinner can mess up an entire seating arrangement. And now there's all this business about left-handedness being caused by a traumatic birth.

Well, back in 1981 Karen Collins of Salt Lake City decided she'd had enough and set out to help lefties cope in a right-selfish, self-righteous world.

Today she sells left-handed specialty items out of her home and trumpets the virtues of left-handedness at every chance.

"I'm always looking for new items," she says. "It's hard to find left-handed things for men for some reason. But I've come up with a few."

Some of those items include a left-handed Swiss army knife, left-handed measuring tapes, a left-handed boomerang and playing cards that have the number printed in all four corners so southpaw card players can hold a fan of cards in the left hand.

"Lefties can use a lot of things right-handers can, of course," says Collins. "But many times the instructions say: If you're left-handed, do the opposite of what the directions say. Being left-handed is a little like living in Wonderland with Alice."

Many companies could easily make items that work for both right-handers and lefties - things such as ice cream scoops, ladles and can openers - but Collins says the thought never occurs to them.

"Left handers are more individualistic because of that," says Collins. "They have to constantly adapt."

There are old jokes about left-handed monkey wrenches and hammers and such, but Collins says people would be surprised at what lefties do to cope.

"There are left-handed pencils, for instance," she says. "Lefties have to use hard lead pencils because the soft lead leaves smudges when the left hand rags across their writing."

Sometimes, of course, left-handers like to act just a little superior, as with The Official Left-handed Mug. The mug has a hole cut in it on the side where right handers would drink. The liquid runs out onto their clothes when righties hold it normally.

Needless to say, cafeterias would like to see such items left out.

People who want information for themselves or the lefty they love can call Collins at 966-1211.