Saturday, November 28, 2009

Annie, Clarabel / Potayto, Potahto

Anyone who isn't familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine may be a bit lost on this post so here's some background. Thomas the Tank Engine, when he's not schlepping cargo throughout the Island of Sodor, has two coaches he pulls: Annie and Clarabel. They are effectively identical coaches. According to one toy site, "They were given to Thomas as a reward for proving himself to be a Really Useful Engine. Annie carries passengers and is always pulled by Thomas facing him. Clarabel carries both passengers and luggage, and always travels behind Annie."

Got that? The only way to tell between Annie and Clarabel is their position in relation to Thomas. (Women's studies majors, take note and use this as a basis for your next thesis statement - there's something here about train-oriented misogyny present in early 20th century British children's literature with a compare and contrast in the leadership styles of Winston Churchill and Sir Toppham Hatt under George VI and Elizabeth II.)

So today, when the boys were engaged in passionate debate over who should have Annie AND Clarabel, my thought, as Mommy and Chief Moderator on Duty, was to divide the two virtually identical and interchangeable trains between the two boys, giving one to Helios and the other to Hesperos.

Nuthin' doin'. The boys could handle having only one coach a piece. What they couldn't agree on is who should have which coach. Both demanded Annie. No matter that in a blind touch test or with the names obscured, they couldn't tell the difference between the two.

So how to affect a compromise and some relative peace and quiet so I could write this post and gain some sanity this cloudy Saturday?

I revealed to them the secret that Sir Toppham Hatt didn't want anyone to know but entrusted to me, which I in turn was sharing with them.

Clarabel is Annie's double, her identical twin, in disguise. Underneath the 'Clarabel' in white cursive is the word 'Annie.' So they're really two Annies, but one is in hiding.

Now they argue about who has the secret Annie and who has the visible Annie. Of course.

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