Elaine Ramshaw elaine1 at
Wed Aug 9 04:33:07 CEST 2006

Right, Olaf, Donald can tell which nephew he's seeing. But I still think
that he might have been fooled if he hadn't overheard their plans. Someone's
who's not alerted to the fact that look-alikes will switch places is more
likely to be fooled. You simply don't look carefully, because you assume
it's the person you're expecting. That's certainly my experience with
identical twins in the family. If we really looked at them, we could
certainly tell which one we were looking at; but if they switched places,
that would usually lead even family members to confuse them because we
wouldn't look carefully (well, I never confused them, but I had a reputation
to maintain, so I *always* looked first). And incidentally, only the
immediate family could reliably tell them apart even by looking carefully,
when they were children. All others could consistently be fooled
indefinitely if the twins, say, switched seats at school. 

This, of course, is a naturalistic explanation of how identical siblings
work, which I bring up only because it seems relevant to the action in WDC
71 (or, at least, to my understanding of the action). I'm quite willing to
go along with the notion that HD&L are preternaturally identical, that the
fact that they are interchangeable in character as well as appearance is, as
Lars put it, the whole *point* of HD&L. And that then you need Donald to
have developed a preternaturally good "eye for detail" in order to tell them
apart! At the same time, I'm interested in how various writers might choose
to deal with this issue in different ways--hence my curiosity re: the
McGreals' "Happy Birthday Times 3". 

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