Whenever I watched American films or TV as a child, I would observe with some confusion the tendency for kids to accuse each other of having cooties. The standard response to this accusation was invariably “I don’t got cooties!” This was all quite a mystery to us British kids. We had no idea what cooties were, nor could we fathom the rather strange sentence construction with the “don’t got” bit. In the end, I decided that cooties must be head lice because I compared it to British kids accusing each other of having nits. My understanding now is that ‘cooties’ is actually similar to the British ‘lurgy’, i.e. some generic non-specific nasty germy infestation type thing. I’m not sure if head lice could even be included with the other nasties under the general heading of ‘cooties’, perhaps my American followers could clarify? But either way, I didn’t want to include the words ‘head lice’ in my post title because I didn’t want to put anyone off reading it, so I went for the altogether cuddlier sounding cooties, even if they are something completely different.
Anyway, those of you who read my last post will now realise where we’re going with this. That’s right, the head lice won the poll, and so I must now speak of their virtues. Mike Allegra (heylookawriterfellow) will support what I say, and will defend the lice if anyone speaks out against them (remember Mike, it was your idea). Believe it or not, I have managed to find four, yes FOUR good things to say about the very misunderstood head lice. Four might not be a huge number, but I bet it’s four more good things than you ever thought there were to say about them, right? Keep reading, I think you’ll be impressed…
1. Head lice have earned their right to be here. They have been around for millions of years, and evidence of them has been found on the hair of Egyptian mummies. They are part of history.
2. Mating attachment between adult lice lasts for more than an hour. Stamina like that deserves some respect.
3. When the female lays eggs, she secretes a glue-like substance to stick them to the hair. Recent studies have shown that this glue is made of proteins that are very similar to keratin. Keratin is a vital component in hair which provides its strength and resilience. Keratin is now a popular ingredient in hair conditioning treatments. That’s right, those lice are conditioning your hair.
And finally, the best one…
4. Head lice may be irritating but they generally cause no real harm, and they do not spread any disease. There is evidence to suggest that head lice infestations are in fact beneficial, and act as a natural vaccine to help you develop immunity to infestation by the far more dangerous body lice, which can transmit serious diseases (body lice can be cooties right?).
Come on now, if nothing else, you’ve got to be impressed by the fourth one yes? And let’s not forget the unique parent/child bonding experience of spending an hour, night after night, in the bathroom, painstakingly going through every section of hair with the nit comb, to the sounds of “Noooo!!! Stop!!! It hurts!!!”
Mike, it’s over to you.