After thirty years of deliberation, I have decided that I do not, in fact, have cooties. In first grade, a girl named Meredith took issue with my decision to start climbing on the monkey bars without an invitation. “Hey, Kristin!” she cackled to her friend, who was hanging upside down and trying to touch the dirt. “John Sellers has cooties!” At the time, I was sure she was right. Whole recesses would go by without me realizing that a chocolate milk mustache was caked around my mouth; I enjoyed rolling down the grass knoll behind the parking lot; my hair had a tendency to morph into a tumbleweeds shape in the afternoon. Certainly, compared to the neatly assembled alpha-girls on the monkey bars that afternoon, a mess like me had cooties.

But now I see that Meredith was mistaken. Cooties is a term that has to be used sparingly for it to carry any weight, and without tooting my own horn too much here, it is obvious that it was capriciously applied to me. At age six, I had lots of friends, including kids named Marvin, Marcus and Shane; kids with cooties don’t have friends, even ones saddled with shitty names. A popular girl named Julie had announced earlier that year that she had a crush on me; circa 1976, girls named Julie didn’t admit to liking known cootie cases. Most importantly, though, I didn’t smell. (And don’t bother me with that trite “A skunk can’t smell its own” stuff — yes, it can.) The term “cooties” almost necessarily has to apply to a person who stinks in some way or another, doesn’t it? You know: beef whiff, B.O., dog smell, etc. By way of example: Pig Pen had cooties; Charlie Brown did not. Only one kid in our grade that year stunk, and it wasn’t me. Contrary to what my grandma might have claimed, I was not “a little stinker.” So case closed: I did not have cooties then, nor do I have cooties now.

Celebrity-form cooties are quite a different thing all together. Celebrities with cooties do not necessarily have to smell bad. They may be seen at clubs and premiere parties. They can be viewed as being attractive to the opposite sex. But there is a certain something about them that screams, “Cooties!” Here is my partial list of cootie-carrying celebrities:

Tara Reid
Jack Osbourne
Carlos D
Richie Sambora
Wilmer Valderrama
Jessica Biel

Got any more to add to the list?

I performed poorly in a fantasy baseball draft last night.