Friday, October 24, 2008

Cootie People

Do you remember "cooties" back from your elementary school days? Yes, we had Cooties, the Milton-Bradley game, which I used to play although I don't remember anything about it, but I'm talking about the real cooties, the first communicable disease that we passed around in our childhoods.

By the way, I looked up the Cootie game on Amazon.com and it is still being sold although there's an awful lot of customer complaints about the poor quality of the pieces and how they don't fit together right. Whatever happened to pride of workmanship?

But back to the real cooties - every class had its own "cootie girl." Maybe there were cootie boys back then but I can only remember cootie girls. They were always the kids who made you feel squeamish just by looking at them because their hygiene was so poor. Our elementary school also had a cootie queen, an awesome sight because she reigned over the entire school, whereas the cootie girls in each classroom were more like princesses in their own subdomains. Even from afar we would get the heebie jeebies as we observed her walking across the playground.

I know its cruel to go around calling someone cootie girl but my goodness, some of these parents really needed to take better care of their kids, and the kids had a responsibility to themselves as well. The thing is, there was never any disagreement as to who wore the crown and had the title - it was always a clear choice. It's not like we had to vote on it.

At least it provided something to do at recess - chasing each other around, tagging one another and yelling out, "you got the cooties!" Back then we used to have a shield: crossing our index and middle finger to signify we had immunity from such things, causing the cootie bearer to seek another victim. We called it having "kings."

However, there were some cooties that were so powerful, kings were futile and all you could do was run away like crazy.

Ever wonder what happens to the cootie people when they grow up? I'm sure a couple of them have worked at my office. They are people that make you hold your breath whenever you are around them because you don't want to inhale what they have.

Many years ago the unanimous choice for cootie girl in our office baked chocolate chip cookies and left them on a plate at the counter in the lunch area. Demonstrating an extreme lack of judgment as well as a weakness for chocolate, I actually took one.

I was talking with a coworker (not the cootie queen) and absent-mindedly took a bite of the cookie while we continued talking. While I was listening to her, it occurred to me that there was something in the cookie that didn't belong. I pulled the cookie away from my mouth while she continued talking and there, acting like a bridge, was a hair that stretched from the cookie to my mouth.

My co-worker stopped in midsentence; we both stared at the hair and paused for a moment while this sight filtered into our consciousness. Her horrified look turned into laughter and I ran to throw away the cookie and wash out my mouth. What the heck was I thinking when I took the cookie off that plate?? Was I such a slave to chocolate??

Thankfully this unsettling experience did not generalize to all chocolate cookies, as well it might have, but instead I was able to properly channel it into an avoidance of anything having to do with our office cootie queen. We all bid a relieved farewell when she went on to conquer another office several years ago.

Now we have a replacement cootie queen that gives me the heebie jeebies, but we seldom see her because of her multiple excuses for why she can't come to work. Hey, be my guest!

Don't you run into people that just make you shudder and hope they don't get too close to you? I'm not talking about homeless people or "bums" because unfortunately, their situation doesn't afford them much opportunity to exhibit an acceptable state of cleanliness or hygiene. I'm talking about "normal" people, but ones who for one reason or another, bring on that heebie jeebie itchy cootie feeling that makes you want to wash your hands or run to the shower. They must have been the cootie people when they were growing up and spent their days since that time continuing to bloom.

Well, sorry for such a dreadful topic today. That was just something that came to mind so I decided to write about it. I'm waiting for one of the presidential candidates to make a remark about his opponent having cooties. One of these days it will happen.

Now here's a couple of YouTube videos I wanted to share with you. The singer in the first one is far from being a cootie girl.. she turns in an incredible performance with this song and every time I hear it I get the chills because she (and the whole band) is sooo good. If Easy Livin' ever had a reunion, that's what I would like to play. I know Teri would ace it! The connection between this song and today's topic? My mind switched out "brokenhearted" in the title with the words "cootie people." I know, I'm nuts..




And this second song - the only one I know of with the words "heebie jeebies" (it's in the title but not the lyrics). I still have the '45 that I got way back in 1966. I really like this song, from one of my favorite groups of that era. I like the '60's photos in the video as well.




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