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“You have cooties, you have cooties!”
The small-teethed children scattered, screaming shrill melodramatic laughs, as lonely little Turner Twotone tottered toward the playground. The children’s fear had this affected quality to it, typical of silly kids, like they knew they were in no real danger, but just feigned this terrified-act to introduce a little drama in their lives.
“You have cooties, you have cooties, ” they sang, some of them shaking their little rear ends to emphasize each mean-spirited word.
Of course these bratty little tykes were safe. Turner did not have cooties. That’s a fact. Cooties is a myth. He didn’t even have AIDS yet either, and, God willing, as long as the cutting edge pill cocktail kept his white cell count nice and high, he never would contract the deadly disease.
“I don’t have cooties,” Turner rolled his eyes and shouted back in an irritated sing-songy cadence. “I have HIV, stupid. The virus that causes AIDS!”
But they weren’t listening. They had reached some pitched level of self-satisfied groupthink. Progressive thinking couldn’t penetrate that.
“You have cooties, you have cooties,” they continued with their rehearsed chorus.
Turner bristled at their ignorance. He knew these stupid kids could never find the maturity to break the cyclical campaign of misinformation that led them to believe that he was a contaminated monster in the first place. They needed a villain. Turner’s misfortune would conveniently be the glue that would come to define their group; his disease would help shape their future social structure. He couldn’t believe how little progress had been made in AIDS awareness and education. The fact is, aside from his HIV, he was no different from them.
He knew they would never learn. So he decided to infect one of them instead. These kids have all kinds of scabs and open wounds and bloody gums, Turner thought. He took out a pin, pricked his finger and looked for the slowest in the bunch. Maybe then he would finally have a friend.
Date Written: August 25, 2004
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