Thursday, 26 June 2014

Cooties - What Are They? How Can You Avoid Them?

A painting of a six-legged, friendly-looking, bug-like creature
An artist's impression of a cootie
(painting by Kari)

COOTIE

Noun. Slang. Also kootie. Early 20th century.
[Perhaps from Malay kutu a biting insect.]

A body louse.

A young girl looks knowingly at the camera as she kisses a boy
Unfortunately for this boy, it's too late. And she knows it.
(photo by Katy from Bookroom Reviews)

What Are Cooties?

Thankfully, I grew up in a part of the world that doesn't have a significant cootie problem. In Britain, we have the dreaded lurgies, but make no mistake about it - the cooties are coming, and it's vital we take adequate steps to protect ourselves against this invisible threat. The exact taxonomic definition of cooties has thus far evaded scientists as no living sample has ever been isolated. But know this: cooties are real! They prey primarily on children, and the consequences of a cootie outbreak can be ... well ... cootistrophic. If a cootie carrier is outed, expect immediate panic, with all other children in the vicinity running around screaming "Ewwww!" and "He's got cooties!" Once a carrier has been thus publicly exposed, it is virtually impossible for him to regain his social standing within the five- to ten-year-old demographic.

How Can I Avoid Catching Cooties?

Just like the dreaded lurgies, the primary vectors for cooties are girls. Therefore, boys should always stay as far away from girls as possible, and under no circumstances should a boy allow any kind of physical contact to take place. The exception to this rule is Mum - she's the best and she never has cooties, so you can cuddle her all you want without fear. Sisters, on the other hand, are the prime cootie-carriers, so exercise extreme caution around them at all times, especially at mealtimes and other family occasions in which you're compelled to be in close proximity. There is some evidence that taunting, hair-pulling and generally tormenting your sister may reduce the chances of cross-infection, so use these measures liberally. Also consider putting up "Girls Smell!" and "No Girls Allowed" posters on your bedroom door.

Does Anyone Else Carry Cooties?

Yes indeed, but they're usually easily identifiable - the weird kid in your class that always smells of crisps and wee, for example, most definitely has cooties. If you're a girl concerned about cooties, however, unfortunately it's probably too late - you already have them on account of being a girl. The best you can now do is take precautions to avoid infecting the boys in your class and, if you have a brother, giving him your pocket money and chocolate has been shown to reduce the overall number of cooties you have.

The suggestion that boys might carry cooties is, of course, absurd
(photo by Sergio Feria)

Do you have any tips for avoiding cooties?

What's the equivalent of cooties where you're from?

Do please leave your most deliceful comments in the box below.

2 comments:

  1. Brilliant post, Ed. I think our cooties were nits (nits were only present as parental memories when I was at school. so none of us knew what they really were). A lurgie was a bit different, being an infection rather than an infestation.

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    1. Cheers, Sally. Yeah, the lurgies, while similarly unclassified, were definitely a germ based affliction around my parts. I mean, around the parts where I lived, not around my ... oh never mind.

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