I am an introverted thinker by preference on the Meyers Briggs test and my sister was an extroverted feeler. My kids each have one of those preference patterns. This story first appeared on an obscure writing website in November 2014.
When my sister Chris and I were very little, we went on long car trips each summer to a lake in Canada. This is a small lake north of Lake Erie and one of hundreds in Ontario, but to us it was “Canada”.
This was before seatbelts. My father was in graduate school, my mother was an artist who was not making money at it and they were “independently wealthy at a poverty level.” Our cars were always used and tended to break down. My father favored old Peugots and once he and a friend put a new engine in the International Travelall right before we left. We were living in Johnson City, New York, so it was either one very long day’s drive or two days to the lake.
Chris and I had the back seat, often piled with camping gear. She was three years younger. When we were very small we played “Red eye, white eye.” I don’t know who made it up, but I remember my father’s voice. The eyes were tigers. “White eyes” meant that there was an oncoming tiger and we had to duck down behind the seat until it passed, so that it wouldn’t get us. “Red eyes” meant a receding tiger or a tiger in front of us going the other way, so we could pop back up. It also meant no tigers.
“White eyes,” said my father, and we hid, scared. Then there was such a feeling of safety and of not being caught when he said, “Red eyes,” and we could return. We knew that he would protect us from the tigers.