I can’t remember any game more popular than Cootie when I was growing up. But forget about the game itself, I loved playing with the little plastic body parts. I’m quite positive that the full-on-plastic-soaked-saturation of the pink Cootie legs is where my love of that particular color came from.


My house is the same pink:


So was my car:


I still get a thrill when I touch any of the Cootie contents today, especially those pink legs.


I’m sure that looking at all this saturated color all day when I was a kid influenced me as an artist. Here’s my very first art piece I made as a grownup artist in 1983:


It was a 5 1/2′ x  8′ collage of made out of (primarily) pink house paint, 70’s Ebony magazine clips and 50’s TV knobs. It was called “Dialated Pupils”.

Here’s a blurry photo of James Brown sitting in front of it when we worked together in the 80’s:


None of this has much to do with the subject at hand other than my life is filled with pink and there was no bigger fan of my memorabilia collection than The Godfather. But back to Cootie:

This particular Cootie game was the victim of a flood just weeks after Mr. Brown was over when some of my underwear clogged the drain that the washing machine dumped into.


The same flood ruined the my Beatles wig…


… but that doesn’t have much to do with Cootie either.

I don’t even really remember the rules of the game – I just liked twisting the little pink legs into the Cootie bodies. But I do remember not liking the directions because they were so slanted towards the dominant sex it was assumed would play the game:


Cootie, my house, my art, my car, James Brown, my Beatles wig –  this post is all over the place, just like the Cootie legs are going to be as soon as I pick this up:


As much as I loved/love those pink legs the Schaper  Manufacturing Company of Minneapolis, who made the game in 1949, never mastered a tight enough fit of them into the body holes. The last time I officially played Cootie I was 10, stepped on one of my beloved pink legs and slid into a bridge table with a cup of coffee on it, the contents of which dumped on my pristine white buck shoes forever staining them just like they had been in a flood over here all those years later.


9 Responses to “Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Cootie Game”

  1. Nessa

    Fantastic, this is the exact game of Cootie I played with when I was a kid (a hand-me-down from mom) Mine has different colors, though.. pink tongues, yellow legs, black eyes, red antennae and green heads. I gotta say, I prefer your set’s cute pink legs!

  2. margaret y.

    I love the color of your house. Such a perfect shade of pink. Computer makers have recently stopped making everything boring black and white and now I have a pink computer!

  3. Heidi Ehrenreich

    That is my kind of story, all over the place like those little plastic pieces that got sucked up by the Hoover when our living room beige rug was vacuumed. Or when the legs dropped down into the black wrought iron floor heater cover, and even my hands were too big to get them out.
    Why did we like that game? Ok, the parts, but the word “cootie” very soon – ok- around age 11, when we girls would say things like “Ooh, he has cooties” which was probably true about the boys in the PS 22 playground. Yet, somehow, I do still like pink.

  4. Deli

    The JOY I get from your Kitsch o’ The Day offerings is priceless!!! I also LOVED playing with those little plastic ‘COOTIE’ parts (my Cootie legs were also pink)!!! I haven’t seen Cootie in years – but I still absolutely love the way he looks when his head tilts to the side with that curly tongue sticking out… When I was about 6, my next door neighbor/nemesis who was two years older than me somehow convinced me on a dare while we were playing the game to put one of the Cootie eyes up my nose. I did (oy) – it got stuck way up inside there, and I couldn’t get it out… Other than having a piece of plastic stuck way up inside my nose, the second most painful part of the experience was tearfully confessing to my mother how it got up there in the first place. P.S. An ‘educational’ game? I didn’t remember that…

  5. Sheryl Bryant

    I too enjoyed this post and it’s stream of conscious wanderings made me laugh. “Cootie” and “Clue” were my games of choice back in the day.

  6. Julie Brumlik

    Love this post Allee, and relate to all of it.

    In the 90’s I had the opportunity to meet the originator of Mr. Potato Head. (The same guy invented SuperGlue.)
    I was starstruck.

    • Allee

      I had no idea that Mr. Potato Head and Super Glue were invented by the same person. Now that’s talent!