Selective seeing

I suspect that all of us know people who are afflicted with a condition known as Selective Hearing. Such individuals hear only what they want to hear, refusing to hear what they don’t want to hear.

As a child, I couldn’t understand how my father could hear something I whispered to my siblings at the supper table, but couldn’t hear, or at least made no reaction to, other things spoken in a normal voice level.

Selective Seeing is a similar ailment. My brother and I were convinced that Dad had what we referred to as “eyes in the back of his head.” Whenever we did anything the slightest bit questionable, unexpected or different, even though he wasn’t looking directly at us, he seemed to see it. “That’s uncalled for,” he would say.

Dad had two pairs of glasses: reading glasses and driving glasses. In church, while he was preaching, he wore only his reading glasses. After reading the Bible in preparation for his sermon, he would push his glasses up on his baldpate, where they remained until he needed them again.

One night while he was preaching, we heard a collective chuckle from the congregation.

At least one of Dad’s two sons – yours truly – was preoccupied. Not that he was misbehaving or “acting up,” activity that would have been dealt with posthaste and post-service. To while away the time, he was observant all right, looking at the illustrations in his Bible, which his father had given him when he was nine years old in 1966.

The illustrations by J. Pander, which are evocative even to this day, were especially appealing to an adolescent.

“The Building Of the Tower Of Babel” brings back memories. What a brute of a building was being erected, although I wouldn’t have used the word “brute” in those days.

“Joseph Sold By His Brethren” got me thinking, Where’s his “coat of many colours”? What scum-bags (another word I wouldn’t have used back then) his brothers were!

In “Moses About To Destroy the Tablets,” you could actually see the anger in his face and actions. Older folk called it “righteous indignation,” although I had no idea what either word meant.

“The Crossing of the Red Sea” was scary. You could see the Egyptians drowning, while the Israelites were dry and safe on the other side.

Pander0002The one illustration that kept me in the Old Testament was “The Infant Moses Saved From the Nile.” The only male in the illustration was Baby Moses. The rest of the people were Egyptian females, one of whom was only partially clad and exiting the pool carrying Moses in his basket. I was in love with this young lass! I don’t suppose she lives here in Port aux Basques! I thought to myself sorrowfully.

I’m surprised Dad hadn’t torn this illustration from my Bible. It left little to an adolescent’s imagination, sanctified or not.

I must have been studying my Egyptian girlfriend when the congregation chuckled. I turned around. All eyes were riveted on Dad, so I figured the comedian was on the platform. I now focused on him myself.

Ah, there it was…Dad had suddenly needed his reading glasses to highlight another Bible verse. Forgetting that his spectacles already adorned his head, he reached inside his jacket and withdrew his second pair. These he now put on.

I had no difficulty seeing the humour. Turning to my brother, I whispered, “Dave, we always said Dad has eyes in the back of his head. That’s what the second pair of glasses is for!”

From the warning look in my brother’s eyes, I knew what he was thinking, Shut up, b’y! Do you want Fadder to have another attack of Selective Hearing?


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