There is a toddler-sized unmitigated reverence for Rev. Awdry’s Thomas The Tank Engine stories in our home. Plenty of books. Easily 20 lineal feet of Thomas-related branded woodwork, between the train table, table top, and $12-$20 wooden trains co-habitating the living room. Most of these things have been gifted to us for Junior Mayor, Graham, who is OBSESSED with Thomas and all things Thomas. His knowledge of the various trains and their personalities isn’t far off from my professional wrestling obsessions from 1981-1991. James is his Ric Flair. Spencer is Hulk Hogan. Hiro is Ivan Putski. And Thomas, the main character, is a little shit. And now that everyone knows how important he is to our oldest son, we are nearing Thomas overload.
Sure, the guy looks innocent. He’s blue, like between Royal and Sky. Unthreatening in appearance, the best I can tell, he’s either gutsy or train-tarded. Perhaps there’s no sense of responsibility or accountability to his other trains, nor to his “boss,” Sir Topham Hatt. But let’s ease into it.
First, Sir Topham Hatt is apparently a Knight? If you can run a rail system the way his runs itself – best I can tell, the trains ar making the Go/No-Go calls on most of their weird-ass adventures – and still receive Knighthood, the Island of Sodor is under the reign of a Monarchy rivaling the international influence malaria. His engines should all be programmed to work. But eventually, all of them turn to the worst of what should be HUMAN traits and then, oh yeah… discipline. Or not. I can’t believe we’ve gone 70 years and not a SINGLE engine was dismantled or forced to pull the open tanker of PortaPotty pumpings, just to send the other engines a message. This Hatt character’s soft. Top-down enabling. Horse shit.
Here’s an example of a typical story.
Thomas is supposed to go to Brendam Docks to pick up a Special. This means Percy and James need to take over shunting for Thomas until he gets back. They don’t like it. Thomas should get the Special, take it Maithwaite, then return right away. Percy and James are now JEALOUS. Thomas of course will just get his Special, drop it off, and chuff right on back, right?
NOPE. Because he reasons that Percy and James have it covered, so he takes a few detours, shows off his Special, which is probably a statue of Topham’s Dowager mom or some waste of funds, then returns waaaaay late. Meanwhile, James and Percy are in a rhythm, but angry, so they aren’t seeing the value in teamwork, camaraderie, and that self-awareness means life-awareness which means accepting that sometimes you’re not the Special one.
Thomas is still out buzzing around, getting the statue to the station late. His dressing-down consists of being told to not let it happen again. He hears this at least twice a week, if not daily.
So we have a narcissistic, co-dependent, sociopathic, anthropomorphic train warring away with the Diesel engines (racism? xenophobia?), selling replicas of himself and friends for over $10 a pop. Topham Hatt’s pimping them out, reaping the rewards. Were Thomas a Crane Operator or Bike Messenger, nary an eye would watch, and we’d abhor his behavior. Then, every Summer, there’s the chance to meet a train decorated as Thomas (I’m betting it’s not free) but it won’t talk, so then I gotta have THAT discussion about lies and marketing. The weaning has begun.
Thomas can kiss my ass.