Two Degrees off Center: Episode 157: “If Only…”
October 2, 2019
“Two Degrees off Center” is a monthly blog by Rich Keys about the personal struggles, issues, and topics that speak to the LDS/LGBT experience. Sometimes it will be serious, sometimes humorous, but will always approach things from a slightly different perspective.
by Rich Keys
Narrator: You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind, a journey into a wondrous land whose only boundaries are that of the imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead. Your next stop: The Twilight Zone…
(As the scene opens, Marion Landon lies on a physician’s exam bed for a routine sonogram of her seven-month pregnancy by her physician, Dr. Sandra Blake. At her bedside is her husband George.)
Dr. Blake: Mr. Landon, if you’ll step over to this side of the bed, you and your wife can both see the sonogram. Here’s the baby’s head, here’s the cord, and here are the feet. Now if you look up here, this is his left hand. Now if I turn up the audio so you can hear his heartbeat, you’ll notice he’s snapping his fingers to the offbeat of the heart’s rhythm. Most babies don’t snap their fingers this early, and those who do typically use their right hand and snap to the downbeat. Only about 1 in 10 babies use their left hand and snap to the offbeat. Based on this, we can tell you conclusively that your baby boy is gay and left-handed.
Marion: No, no, it can’t be true…are you saying our son is…left-handed? WAAAAA! (She cries out in horror, not able to contain her emotions.) That’s impossible. He can’t be left-handed! I’m his mother, and I’m right-handed, and my husband is his father, and he’s right-handed too, right George? George?
George: (He looks down to the ground in shame, knowing the truth has to come out.) Well, back in college…I was a switch-hitter on the varsity baseball team, but it was only a phase, Marion. It was high school and I was just experimenting, but I swear I’ve never been left-handed since then. Marion, you have to believe me. (As he explains, he nervously cleans his glasses with his left hand.) After my parents found out, they sent me to that conversion camp, The Right Hand of God. That’s where all the parents send their left-handed kids, and they come back right-hand dominant.
Marion: This is a nightmare. Do you realize what our son’s life will be like, how he’s going to suffer? All the kids at school are going to bully him and call him horrible names…names like…Lefty…and Southpaw. And left-handedness is a recessive gene, so they’ll call him Sissy and make fun of that too. (More uncontrolled wailing.)
George: Marion, it doesn’t have to be like that. We can send him to the same camp and they can work their magic on him too.
Dr. Blake: Mr. and Mrs. Landon, please don’t blame yourselves. Your son didn’t get that from you, and he didn’t choose to be left-handed. He came here that way. It’s just a natural part of who he is, like his blue eyes.
Marion: I don’t care what you say. We’re going to do what’s best for our son and send him to that camp where he can be cured once and for all. (Her husband consoles her by gently patting her shoulder, again with his left hand.)
Marion: And then when he’s a little older, we can find him a nice, handsome, right-hand dominant young man for him to fall in love with, and they can get married, so at least our grandkids can be right-handed.
Narrator: A peak into the future…and for George and Marion Landon, their worst fear is realized. They’ve come to a major fork in the road, and fate has taken a left-hand turn, a turn that leads to…The Twilight Zone.
(Fade to black)
When Rod Serling originally proposed his idea of a TV series in the late 1950s to discuss issues like war, power, racism, the haves and have-nots, our personal faults and failures, and other social ills that reflect who we are as a society, CBS turned him down, saying it was far too controversial for its time. So Serling rewrote the pitch and the pilot, keeping the same issues but hiding them in a different format, usually something of a science-fiction nature, and adding an O’Henry twist to the plot to give people something to really think about. CBS never saw the same issues hidden in the new format, and they gave the green light to Serling. His Emmy award-winning series ran for 156 episodes over five seasons. It still plays in reruns today.
Wouldn’t you love to live in a world where a person’s sexual orientation or identity was a non-issue? Wouldn’t it be great if the worst fear parents had about their kids wasn’t who they loved or which bathroom they used, but which hand they wrote with, and realizing that their son or daughter might have to grow up being left-handed in a right-handed world? If that was the biggest worry parents had about their kids, then that would be a pretty decent world, and a great Twilight Zone episode. But even in a perfect world, the top brass would never green-light that show. Way too controversial.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out all posts in the Two Degrees off Center blog series.