Cooties: the STI of the Playground

We’ve all been there. We have all been a child and have played hide-and-go-seek or tag or something on the playground with all your friends. Everyone is running around chasing one another, laughing, having a great time. Then there’s a shift in the game. Someone starts telling everyone that so-and-so has cooties. Now hide-and-go-seek becomes a game of avoid-the-cooties. A stigma is attached to cooties when you’re a kid. No one wants to be caught near the kid with cooties to prevent catching it.


When this started happening, I was baffled. There never seemed to be anything wrong with the people who caught cooties, they just suddenly had it. Confused about cooties, I asked my sisters one day after school. They laughed and told me that cooties weren’t real, just a made up disease kids use avoid the opposite sex.

The next day, when we were all let out for recess, a group of girls and I were on top of this climbing structure of the jungle gym gossiping about who had cooties. I thought this was absolutely ridiculous, especially after my sisters told me cooties were fake. I told the girls, “Cooties aren’t even real!”

One of them replied, “Yes they are! Have you seen Nathan lately? He’s covered in cooties!”

Aggravated, I climbed down and went to find Nathan. He was playing in the sandbox alone. As I approached, he said, “You might not want to get close to me, I have the cooties.”

I then told him, “It’s fine. Cooties aren’t even real. My sisters told me.”

He then said, “Are you sure?

I replied, “Even if they are real, you look fine to me.” Then an awesome idea came to mind and I then added, “Want to give everyone cooties? Tag me, then you and I can go chase everyone and spread our cooties to everyone.”

And that’s exactly what we did. At first, people were grossed out because we infected them, but soon enough, everyone was running around screaming and laughing. We eventually all had cooties. We all survived to tell the story.

Fast forward to adulthood, moral of the story…

I’m not trying to tell you to that if you or someone you knows has an STI you should contract it and try to spread it so everyone has it. That would be wrong. What I am trying to say is perhaps you should consider others’ feelings before telling everyone that someone has an STI. That is their private business. They don’t need the stigma to follow them everywhere they go. That, plus a lot of STIs are curable, and the ones that aren’t, many are still manageable.


If you’re sexually active, especially if you’re not in a monogamous relationship, get tested regularly and use protection y’all.

Yours Truly,
Kallie Pygus

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