Given his age and experience, the Professor is naturally extremely adept at stalling, and suddenly delving into nostalgic memories of times long gone by is a pretty solid effort in that regard.
But despite all of that effort, by panel four he has run out of options and has to reveal the big secret…much later than a normal person would have had to do that, but still a bit too early for plot purposes. So it’s the ol’e train whistle to the rescue! A time-honored way to drown out plot-relevant information that has been in use since way before talkies came around. Back in the silent era, train whistles did their drowning out by way of an insert card spelling “Toot-toot” in all capitals – and the webcomic medium allows me to link up straight with that old tradition.
As to what the train is doing there at that most inopportune of moments…hey, it’s a realm of utter chaos, so this happening is in no way any less or more likely or unlikely than anything (or everything) else. =P
Although the Professor seems to think that chaos might not be quite as chaotic as he used to think? Ah, too bad, the train whistle prevented him from elaborating. Tut-tut. (Or Toot-toot). Well, we will find out in due time, won’t we.
Fun fact regarding the passage of time: I couldn’t draw the old version of the Professor in panel one from memory anymore, I had to dig up old references. Which adds another level to this whole sequence of a young kid thinking back nostalgically to a past when he was much older.
And Mopey was much younger, of course. Human memories inevitably shift and change in the process of being recalled, so it’s quite possible that Mopey is right in assessing that the Professor’s recollections are a bit skewed. He might recall her being younger than she actually was at that point based on his perception of her youth, rather than the reality – after all, the Professor never taught below college level, and while Mopey was gifted, she didn’t start college that young. In the perception of a centenarian, however, the distinction between a ten-year-old and a 19-year-old is pretty subtle and barely noticeable, so that probably accounts for the deviation.
Of course Mopey overplays her hand when she tries to convince the audience she never was that young…or had never worn a bow in her hair when she was young…
More on Monday.