Ewww… You Gave me Cooties!

Are you old enough to remember the game Cooties?

Have you ever made an origami cootie catcher?

About a month ago, I was speaking to a group of students and I used the word cooties, referring to the origami cootie catcher one makes to tell if someone has a crush on you or the answers many other questions that a paper fortune teller is adept at furnishing!

Of course, no one knew what I was talking about….not even the college students in attendance who were the camp “counselors.” I quickly brushed it off and referred to an origami crane instead, which was obviously much more recognizable to my audience.

A few days after this botched attempt at inter-generational vocabulary enrichment, my husband pointed out an article in a recent issue of Scientific American Magazine that totally reviewed my cootie catcher analogy!  If you’re of a certain age (meaning you have heard of Scientific American Magazine), you might enjoy reading this article. The descriptions contained within took me right back to being in grade school when someone in my class – let’s say in second, third, or fourth grade – touched someone else, usually of the opposite sex, and exclamations would ensure claiming you had gotten cooties because of that touch.  It was usually boys giving the “cooties” to girls.

Well, as with any disease, there is treatment. And, supposedly that is where the cootie catcher comes in. The article goes on to tell of other ways, such as a chant and make-shift inoculations, to get rid of the dreaded disease.  In all honesty, I do not remember that part at all. Just the screaming, “EWWWW, you got cooties”, being burned into my mind!!!! And, the use of the origami cootie catcher as a fortune teller (the other name this paper contraption is known for, is prevalent in my memories as well.

So, I was really off base when I referred to the cootie catcher to the children of today. But, that’s disappointing and, I believe, somewhat of a newer phenomenon. My sons, aged 18-25, all made cootie catchers or fortune tellers as craft projects when they were small. I’ve since made cootie catchers that told all about Sugar Maple Trees, in a quiz type format, with my garden club students. I guess it might be the term, Cootie Catcher, that threw off the young students of today.

Cootie also refers to a game where participants race to complete an insect made of plastic parts. My husband and I played that game with our sons as well. Cooties might not be so bad after all!  It was fun. The game is still being made today, if you are interested!

Anyway, it was an odd coincidence that I mentioned a cootie catcher to a group of children, only to have my husband point out an article on the same topic in the space of a few days. We both have fond memories of the game of cooties, cootie catchers, and fortune tellers.

Do you remember cooties? Did you have them? How did you get rid of them?


This is my post for Slice of Life Tuesday, hosted by TwoWritingTeachers.org. Thanks to them, we can all share our writing with those who share the love of words and the stories they tell when we put them together!

2 thoughts

  1. Reading your story was a walk down memory lane, as I remember everything about cooties and never had them. Though, there when there were a few outbreaks in my class I bought the shampoo and used it on my hair. It was the cleanest, shiniest hair I ever had once stripped of residual shampoo and hairspray. I used to love making the fortune tellers and kids still love them today. Great story! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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