Can I freeze time, please.
Time has been on the fast track since I had my daughter almost eight years ago, but my mind can’t seem to accept that we’re in the twenty-tens. I do a double-take anytime I’m reminded of the date.
Watching “Back to the Future” with my kids for the first time didn’t help. It just reminded me of my fuzzy, aging brain. I didn’t remember the part where Marty (Michael J. Fox) comes up with a strategy that involves him sexually assaulting his mom (Lea Thompson) so that the 1955 version of his dad can punch him in the face.
I also couldn’t seem to shut up. I sounded like an elderly aunt—or Marty’s nagging mother—giving a running narration about how things were a lot different in 1985. And my kids didn’t care what I was saying. They were too busy watching.
“Yes, Marty does look like he’s old enough to go to college but he’s supposed to be a teenager. They usually cast teenagers in teenager roles nowadays.”
“Look at that, he’s wearing a watch. Everyone used to watches. Now we don’t need them.”
“So funny they keep showing Pepsi. It didn’t used to be a bad thing to drink soda.”
I sounded so old but the movie still seemed relevant. Some things were familiar to my kids already: Darth Vader is huge in our world (Marty channels his inner Vader while trying to scare his dad into being more assertive with his mom), and the product placements of JC Penney and Texaco don’t seem out of place. The McFlys’ town is passionate about its clock tower, just as we are in our small town (although ours was not struck by lightning 30 years ago, never to work again).
What the kids couldn’t handle was the intensity toward the end, the most exciting part of the movie. The threat of Marty’s siblings disappearing unless Marty got his parents to kiss freaked my son out, and my daughter cried while Marty desperately tried to get the DeLorean to start up.
“Trust me, it will work out,” I kept saying, but they couldn’t relax.
It was my fault for picking the movie. I was in a nostalgic mood. It was the weekend of my 20th high school reunion and I wasn’t going.
One of the film’s writers, Bob Gale, attributes a flip-through of his dad’s yearbook for inspiring him to tell Marty McFly’s story. Gale wondered if he would have been friends with his father in high school.
I’m not sure that I would want my kids to see me in high school, when I was insecure about everything I did and everything I said. When all I wanted was for time to speed up so that I could get away from all the people in it.
I graduated, I moved on. The brief moment I looked back, when the reunion date neared, I decided it was too late for being sentimental. I’m in the here and now, and I want time to come to a standstill. Even though I know it won’t.
This fact doesn’t stop me from wanting my kids to always look for my hand when they cross the street, to always demand one more cuddle before turning off the light, and to have the need to ask me why the Tooth Fairy has taken three days to show up.
When they grow up, if my kids happen to come across a time travel–enabled DeLorean, I’d hope for them to choose 2016. I would love for them to be reminded of how they were when they were really young and how we were as a family, before they turned into teenagers who want nothing more than to leave us and our small town.
Chances are I’ll be just as confused to see them as I am when I look at today’s calendar.