Cootie Catchers

Cootie Catchers: Swoon 55

Do you remember Cootie Catchers, those little folded fortune tellers…pick a color or animal, then a number and poof…your future would be blurted out for all to hear. Who are you going to marry…a short rich man or a handsome cowboy, or Tommy (standing right next to you turning more purple by the moment)? They might predict what horrific thing would happen to you (you will eat 9 spiders today), or just something cruel (you are as ugly as a frog). So random but somehow it all meant so much.

Today I made some Cootie Catchers for the little girls next door. Their morning treats are getting more random as this pandemic goes on (and on). I am running low on crafting supplies, my in house puzzle maker is creating lesson plans and teaching. One can only drop off so many strawberries and balloons, I am grasping at straws. How I remembered Cootie Catchers I do not know, but once I did I was back on that elementary school playground reliving their meaning.

Fold the corner of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper down to create a square; then fold the left over flap back and forth and tear off; then fold the other corner down to create an x of fold lines, unfold so you have the open square; then fold each corner down to the center, creating a smaller square (do not overlap points); then turn over and repeat, folding corners to the center; then fold up to create a rectangle (so that the openings for the fingers are on the outside); put your thumb and pointer fingers in the pockets and shift it open and closed. Label the outside points with 4 (less options, so boring) or 8 colors or animals. Remember how to spell orange and that pig is WAY too short a word. Label the inside points with 8 numbers. Put fortunes or punishments under the flaps. Watch out for friends who only pick the “good” numbers, and never the funny ones, people like that are SO annoying. Remember, you are queen for the day if your fortunes are good… think about them long and hard.

Such fun, kind of…also a bit torturous. There were the kids who wrote numbers like 26. An endless back and forth, waiting to find out what glorious thing was written, hoping it was worth the wait as they counted aloud and rolled their eyes… bored with the situation they created and clearly loving the attention…so annoying. Other kids you would just avoid, they constantly had you eating dog poop or marrying the kid who picked his nose and put it under his desk. There were the super funny creators, aspiring SNL writers, they would announce a new catcher and everyone would gather around to watch the show. Those willing to be the first in line for their hijinks were so very brave.

These fortune tellers were also windows into intellectual and social standings… who had the best fine motor skills (folding crisp right angles), who had the best handwriting, who could spell, who knew obscure colors and animals like chartreuse or platypus. Who had so much disposable paper at home that they had endless catchers. Who was funny… who was mean… who was all things sweet. You can learn a lot from a person by studying their Cootie Catcher making.

I hope the little bits next door enjoy their fortune tellers, they are much less fun when done with family, especially the family you have been locked up with for months. I remember my dad placating me at Fire Island. He would be watching the football game, doing a crossword puzzle, drinking coffee and picking at his lip “thinking”… it would go something like this…
Dad, pick a color.
What? Oh, red (red was a fine length… it allowed me to avoid spelling orange)
Dad, pick a number.
Ok, 15
No, Dad, you’re not doing it right, you need to pick a number on the Cootie Catcher
Oh, 4
You will have a great day!
If that means the Giants will win, ok.

A glorious father daughter bonding moment a la 1976.

Cootie Catcher and blanks for the little bits next door.

Published by Kat

A mom, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a graphic designer. I am flawed... but I try.

2 thoughts on “Cootie Catchers

  1. Girl, you warm my heart! I can’t remember what we called them, but definitely not “Cootie catchers”. Now I have to contact some of my elementary school peeps to find out. I’ll get back to you!
    Kat, Thank you for bring back these wonderful memories!

    Liked by 1 person

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