I was a bad mom. First, I had allowed my young daughter to carry around a rubber vampire bat (called “batty.”) A lady at the swimming pool gave me a piece of her mind; it was “just not right” for a little girl to be attached to a rubber bat. The look of disapproval was immense. Second, I had allowed my daughter to wear a cute pink, white, and red t-shirt with a cute character on its front. People would ask her, “Ooooh. Who’s that?” “It’s Blinky, she’s an eyelash mite,” she would tell them, and I’d watch their smile fade to a look of either disgust, bewilderment, or both.

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Blinky was part of a cast of characters called “Parasite Pals.” Before I had kids, I’d long been a regular customer at Archie McPhee’s in Seattle — a tradition I’d continued after I had kids. So, it’s my doing that my daughter discovered Blinky and his pals, one of the first of a series of toys that, I guess, some people found creepy.

My older daughter too has not been immune to the charm of cute virus or bacterium, though it hit her later when she was taking nursing and biology classes. If you have to study a disease, why not get the plushie to match?

So, between the two, this type of mashup between sick and cute frequently creeps into my life, infecting me with its morbid charm. Somehow, these toys seem even more appealing now, in the midst of a pandemic, perhaps for the same reason it was morbidly reassuring to watch all the pandemic movies. These won’t prevent or cure COVID-19, or anything else, but they’re awesome!

Here are some of the gems they’ve found:

Squishables Plague Doctor Plushie

Are you getting upset at people who aren’t wearing masks? This guy is wearing one — and he’s extremely cute.

The plague doctors of the middle ages, stuffed their masks with smelly things thinking the odors would ward off the disease. The odors didn’t work, but the suit DID provide some protection.

You can keep this one for yourself or, perhaps, you can buy it for that mask-refusing family member as a big hint.

Parasite Pals

I thought Parasite Pals were long-gone, but you can still, occasionally find them at Archie McPhee and even Amazon. These are so cute you might not even want to cure yourself. The cast of creepers includes Blinky the Eyelash mite (apparently, she’s aged because back when my daughter was small she didn’t yet wear glasses, to my recollection), Tickles the Tapeworm, Zzeezz the Bedbug, and Dig Dig the head louse.

Like Pokemon, you can catch them all! But it might take medication to get rid of them.

Giant Microbes

Giant Microbes sells everything from e-coli to STDs (see the photo here) to — you guessed it — COVID (if you check their website.) They make great stocking stuffers for the doctor, nurse, or biologist with a sense of humor.

Crocheted COVID

Who knew COVID could be so cute? This crocheted ball of COVID-19 definitely won’t get past your mask…but it might get into your heart.

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