21. The Evil Eye

21. The Evil Eye

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters


The Evil Eye

The main problem with teenagers is that they’re just like their parents were at their age.

~Author Unknown

My dad was never the kind to take us kids into jovial bear hugs on a regular basis or offer many words of adoration or encouragement. But we knew he loved us… he just had his own way of showing it.

As a teen, parental embarrassment is just part of daily life—the cars they drive, the clothes they wear, the things they say when their kid’s friends are around. I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been embarrassed by their parents at some point between the ages of twelve and twenty. As adults, we look back on those moments and laugh, swearing we will never do that to our kids. But I’m sure we will. Well, maybe not the exact same things: I’ve sworn to never drive a rusted-out station wagon with faux wood panels.

But there is one embarrassing thing that I may steal from my dad’s repertoire: The Evil Eye.

I must go back almost two decades to explain.

When I was a teen, we were seasonal campers at a family campground almost an hour outside the city where we lived. Each family had their own campsite with water and electric, and you basically parked your camper there from May through October. Most “Seasonals” visited their plot of wilderness heaven every weekend during those months, with the occasional weeklong stay. There were plenty of other kids who camped seasonally each weekend, and they came to be some of my closest friends. Of course, many of them were boys.

We kids paired up with our little boyfriends or girlfriends, and we’d hold hands as we’d walk around the campground and down to the rec room that sat on the edge of the pond. We’d play pool or ping-pong, have some snacks, and play songs on the jukebox. Most weekends were pretty similar, but the couples would change. You’d see so-and-so with a different so-and-so than they were with the weekend before. You know how it is when you’re a teen—a three-week relationship is, like, a really long time.

So, needless to say, my teen years were spent with quite a few different boys. But every single one of them had something in common… they’d all received The Evil Eye.

The Evil Eye was a magical sort of thing. One simple look from my dad, and the boy immediately knew not to mess with me. It was as if he could send his warnings telepathically or through invisible laser beams that shot directly from his eyes to the boys’ brains.

“You will not put your hands on my daughter… You will not kiss my daughter… You will not even whisper sweet nothings into my daughter’s ear.”

I remember one night in particular, walking with a boy around the campground after dark. We came from one direction, and my dad from the other. The boy and my dad locked eyes for a brief second, then the boy dropped my hand like a hot potato and turned away, giving me a quick, “See ya later.”

Thanks, Dad. Thanks a lot.

Yep, The Evil Eye. Best way ever to keep wandering teen boy hands away from your daughters. That, and the antique Civil War guns that my dad proudly displayed on the living room wall. Just another layer of daughter protection, but we’ll save that story for another time.

~Stephanie Haefner

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