When my sister and I were in elementary school, the biggest insult was for a classmate to say you had “cooties.” Now I thought it was hilarious but my sister was a bit more mature so found it rather childish. I loved nothing more than to blow the aforementioned “cooties” onto one of my sworn enemies and run like the wind to get away.

I would laugh and giggle until I was almost sick. Until they caught me and said I now had the horrible germs/cooties.

Interestingly enough, “cooties” are an actual condition from World War I. It is thought to be a term for lice or other infectious germs that thrive in trenches. From its original meaning of head or body lice, it seems to have evolved into a purely imaginary stand-in for anything contagious and repulsive.

Cootie GameAbout the same time that I perfected the game of “Cooties” on the playground, Milton Bradley came out with a game called “Cootie”. I was in hog and cootie heaven! I could chase kids at school and give them the cooties and I could then return home for a fast paced game of “Cootie”. Truly a match made in heaven!

Gin and TonicNow, of course our mother found nothing fun about cooties. She thought it was just a bunch of nonsense, although I am quite sure if there had been an alcoholic drink called “Cootie”, she would have changed her mind. That would have been the triple crown of “Cootie’ for Mother!

Whenever she inquired as to my day, I would tell her how many people I gave “Cooties” to that day on the playground. She would look at me as if i had lost my mind and say:

Sounds like a waste of time to me.  Shouldn’t you be trying to learn something instead of bothering the other kids?

This from a woman who had no sense of humor. I ignored her, like usual, and brought out the game of “Cootie” asking in my sweetest/smart ass tone:

How about a game of Cootie?

Mother was not amused.

I finally dropped the habit of chasing kids and giving them “Cooties” at about age ten. The shine had come off and was soon replaced with another activity that I still enjoy to this day: storytelling! You know what they say, once a storyteller, always a storyteller!

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