I haven’t used this word since I was about seven years old, but the house that we just purchased and are remodeling had the “cooties.”I even had to look up how to spell it.

It’s funny that when you tell people that you just bought a house with cooties, everyone gives you a sympathetic eye. It’s not unheard of here in Los Angeles. If the walls could talk, etc.

My husband gives me the evil eye. He’s sick of hearing about it. He remembers our first house in Laurel Canyon, where the builder burned candles in the fireplace every time there was a leak in the ceiling, and he’s not buying it.

But I want to rid the house of the cooties and in this day of new-age remedies there has to be a down and dirty answer. L.A. is the land of multiculturalism, but when you realize the breadth of diversity amongst your own friends on a topic like this it’s fascinating.

First, I must reveal that my own remedy (and probably the most popular) is the burning of a bunch of sage. It turns out that this is pretty tame and pretty unoriginal, but effective nevertheless. At the very least, it turns that cootie smell into something more herbal. Workers come in and say, “Did you just burn sage?”

Then, there’s our very elegant friend who is from Egypt. He wears the most beautiful clothes and has a style that is impeccable. I’m sure he has the cure. “I’ll go to South Central and get a live chicken and slaughter it in your garden and spread the blood everywhere,” he said with the straightest of faces.

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“Not at all,” he replied. “It is the best method for purifying the house and chasing any bad vibes away. You can even come with me to get the chicken,” he offered.

I tell this to a few friends and they shake their heads in agreement. “The best way,” they said.

I don’t think I can bear it.

Another fabulous “Angelino” whose family is from Vietnam and China tells us that we have to burn a piece of paper in the driveway (like they do after a funeral) and that the smoke will take away all of the negative energy. Step over the ash. It’s as simple as pie.

This seems more to my liking even though my father’s father was a butcher in the 1920s in New Jersey.

Then I turn to the Web–my ultimate source of all sources. There’s actually a Kooties.com Web site that tells me there are good and bad cooties (what a relief!). They have an online store where you can buy or get free cooties stuff. It’s sold at Bob Evans restaurants nationwide. Who knew?

There’s an article on one site that says to “clap your hands” starting at the top of each wall and working your way to the bottom. Wash your hands when you’re done, it says. Obviously. Another site recommends drops of lavender. Another one recommends a stiff broom.

There are endless recommendations.

In the end, demolishing the house seems like the best choice. My husband always was in favor of renovating rather than the butchering.

Julie Brosterman is a consultant to the real estate technology, mortgage and servicing industries. After she spent 15 years in the title insurance industry, the Internet “spoke” to her and she has never looked back. She lives in Los Angeles and can be contacted at juliebrosterman@hotmail.com.


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