They’re B.A.C.K.


Last night, one jumped out of my granddaughter’s backpack. A second had to be freed from the zipper.

When I recognized what they were, it was like running into a best friend from second grade.

“Great. Cootie Catchers!”

“What’s a cootie?

Etymology rears its morphing head. This is personal. It stings, like the upper-two-digit birthday.

I explain the Zen of cootie.

“We don’t have them anymore. This is a Hippy Game. Just like you, Gammy.”

I will not take the bait. I will welcome to another Japanese invasion. First came anime, and then Kendamas popped up, now an origami revolution. It’s welcome because I haven’t seen a child bent over an iPhone or iPad lately. At least not while they’re on the playground.

“Want to play?”

“Of course.” I try to follow the rules of Improv. Always say ‘yes.’

“Pick a color.”


“R-E-D. Now, pick a number.”


Fingers flying. A swift count to eight.

“Choose another number, please.”

I chose three.

She gently pulled back the number-three flap. “Do you really want to know?”


“Next Tuesday you will take me on a cruise to Hawaii. If you don’t, your novel will be rejected.”

I suppose you could say it was a win-win scenario.