My Parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary


Douglas Neman

Well, my parents have been married for 50 years. In honor of this significant achievement, I think it's time I finally revealed the truth of their marriage. It's a story I've never told anyone...until now.

As a teenager (a million years ago in the 1980s), I was a Boy Scout, and a member of the high school band and the yearbook staff. My friends and I regularly got together to play volleyball. But most people have no idea that I had another friend whom I saw separately.

Dr. Emmet Brown was a self-described scientist, but I'm not sure what field his doctorate was in. I usually just called him Doc. He lived alone in a trailer just off Highway 1 with his dog, Einstein. He was always inventing crazy gadgets (Doc that is, not Einstein). (Well, perhaps Einstein the dog also invented crazy gadgets. Who's to say he didn't when no one was looking? But I seriously digress. )

Most of Doc's inventions didn't work, and the few that did were useless. I mean, yes, a really long, hinged set of clippers which would allow a person to trim his toenails without bending over might come in handy for some people, but that was the exception.

One night, Doc called me at about midnight and frantically asked me to meet him in the Walmart parking lot. I snuck out of the house and drove straight there. He was standing next to a large object covered with a sheet.

"What have you done now?" I asked.

"I have built a time machine!" he exclaimed, and dramatically whipped off the sheet. "Tada!"

I stared for a moment.

"You built a time machine...out of a DeLorean?" I asked.

"Absolutely!" Doc opened the car door, revealing the heavily modified interior. "The DeLorean company no longer exists, so they can't possibly sue me if I produce a movie in which their car has trouble starting when you really need it to!"

"You're making a movie?" I asked. I looked around for cameras, but I didn't see any.

He picked up a large control panel which looked a lot like a remote control for the car. "Maybe some day, but not today. We have more important things to do. I've already programmed the time circuits to take me back to where I used to live in the 1960s-" He suddenly looked over my shoulder. "Great Scott!"

I turned around to see a Walmart security guard approaching. He was a very obese man whose name badge read, "Scott."

"What are you guys doing out here?" Scott asked.

"Doug, run! Save yourself!" Doc shoved me into the car and slammed the door.

"He's just a security guard- Whoa!" The car shot forward as Doc used the remote control to get me to safety. Because, you know, the security guard was so dangerous.

I looked to the passenger seat. There sat Einstein (the dog, not the famous scientist), completely calm and buckled up. We looked at each other, then we both looked forward, just in time to see the front door of the Walmart only seconds away. I screamed. Einstein yawned and scratched his ear.

There was a bright flash, and suddenly we were zooming through a large pasture in broad daylight. I slammed on the brake. The car hit a small bump, turned to the right, and skidded to a halt.

Shaking, I looked to my left. Staring at me through the window with a bored look on its face was a cow, chewing on a clump of grass.

I looked at Einstein. He cocked his head to one side and looked back at me.

I slowly got out of the car, nudging Elsie out of the way.

"What the hell was that?" a voice cried.

I turned to find two men running towards me. As they approached, I got a better look at them, and they both seemed very familiar.

"Are you all right?" one of them asked when they reached me.

"What was that flash?" the other asked.

I peered curiously at the two young men, feeling a sickening sensation in my gut. I looked at the man on the right. "You''re Dr. Emmet Brown," I whispered in awe.

He immediately looked smug. "Well, I'm not a doctor yet, but it's nice that you think so. Just call me Emmet. Have we met?"

"Yes- well, no," I said. "I just happen to know who you are." I looked at the other man, and chose my words with care. "And I don't believe we've met, either."

"Bob Neman," he said. For it was indeed my own father, looking younger than I had ever seen him.

"Wow," I whispered. "Doc actually built something that works."

"What is this fancy-looking car, and where did it come from?" Emmet asked.

Before I could answer, my father fainted.

"Dad!" I cried.

"'Dad?'" Emmet asked. "What's going on?"

"I'm from the future!" I exclaimed. "This is a time machine which you invented, and that's my father!"

"Great Scott!" Emmet shouted.

"He's not here!" I shouted back.

"Don't you see?" Emmet asked wildly. "Bob fainted because your time streams have come into contact out of order! The Blinovitch time field surrounding both of you merged with the meson array, forming an asymptotic matrix which is now out of phase with the tachyon prime signature's correlation with the space/time vortex!"

I peered at him over my glasses in a you-did-not-just-say-all-that kind of way.

Einstein hopped out of the car and licked my dad's face.

"You shouldn't be here!" Emmet exclaimed (talking to me, not to the dog). "We've got to get you back to the future! Hey, what happened to your arm?"

I looked at my right arm. "Seems fine to me."

"No, your other arm."

I looked at my left arm, figuring he was talking about a bug bite or something. But my entire left arm was simply missing.

"Well, that's new," I said.

"You're disappearing!" Emmet shouted. "You've interfered in your own past, and now you're being erased from existence!"

"I won't be born?" I asked.

Emmet madly paced back and forth. "You've somehow just prevented your parents from meeting. Your father was supposed to go on a date tonight...Great Leaping Lizards! Now that your father has fainted, he can't go on his date! That woman he was supposed to see tonight must be your mother!"

I stared at him for a moment. "That's rather specious reasoning, not actually very scientific," I said.

"You're fading away, so we don't have time!" he yelled. "We have to make assumptions!"

"All right, so what do we do? If I leave, will everything be okay?"

"Even after you leave, it will take your father approximately an hour to recuperate, and he won't remember this experience at all. So first, I need help carrying him to safety. We can't just leave him lying here."

"Where are we going?"

"Just over the hill."

"Over the hill? My father doesn't need help with that, he's already there!" (Ba-dum-ching!)

"I'll take his feet," I continued. "That way, if my other arm disappears, I won't drop his head."

"Good point," Emmet said. "You think like a scientist."

"I try."

Emmet placed my dad's feet into the crook of my right arm. Then he picked him up by the shoulders and we carried him away. Einstein followed, Elsie stayed where she was. On the other side of a small hill, I was not surprised to see a run-down trailer.

"You live here?" I asked.

"Yes. Bob and I were reviewing lecture notes when you arrived."

We carried my dad inside and set him on a sofa, after Emmet shoved piles of papers and books off of it.

"By the way, don't disturb the meth lab," he said.

My eyebrows shot up into my hair. "You and my dad run a meth lab?"

Emmet looked at me quizzically. "No. I have a dog. His name's Meth." He pointed to a corner, where a labrador lay on a folded blanket, looking at me lazily.

"All right," I said. "So now that I've helped you bring him in, I should go, right?"

"As soon as possible." He looked out the front window. "Wait! You can't go out that way! There's your mom!"

"What?" I looked out the window. My mother was about a hundred yards away, walking towards the trailer. "Why is she coming here?"

"Your father arranged to meet her here."

I looked around the trailer, with its piles of dusty books, stains, and old pizza boxes. "You're kidding, right?"

"They were going to go to the movies together, but with your father out cold like this, she'll just cancel the date and leave!"

"You have to convince her to stay!" I showed him my right hand, which was becoming transparent.

"Right! I'll keep her here until your father wakes up, then they can proceed with their social interaction as normal. But you have to be gone before she arrives, or she'll faint, too!"

"No, she won't!" I said triumphantly. "The addition of a third Blinovitch time field will extend the meson array, smoothing the parabolic curve of the extenuated photon ray shift!"

Emmet shook his head. "Normally it would, but you're failing to take into account the quantum instability introduced by the causality limitations of the space/time vortex."

"Dammit!" I exclaimed. "I forgot about that. I'm interfering in my family's history!"

"Well, Einstein did say it's all relative."

"Woof," said Einstein.

I looked out the window. My mother was 50 yards away.

"The fact that you're still fading away means we haven't solved the problem," Emmet said. "In order to keep your mother here until your father wakes up, I've got to convince her that he's worth hanging around for. Quick – what do they have in common?"

I stood there for several moments, my mouth open but no words coming out.

"Nothing," I finally said.

"There's got to be something!" he insisted.

"Um...well...crossword puzzles?" I lamely suggested.

He threw aside a stack of cheap paperback novels and revealed a two-year-old newspaper. He frantically tore through it until he found the crossword. "Aha! I'll talk to her about crosswords, thus keeping her here until your father wakes up!"

Instantly, my left arm came back and I was no longer transparent.

"It will work!" Emmet shouted, jumping with joy. "Your return is proof of that! Now go get into that contraption and get yourself back to the future!"

"You got it!" I shouted. I looked out the front window and saw my mother only 20 yards away. "You got a back door to this place?"

"Sure. It's in the back."

Emmet greeted my mother at the front door while Einstein and I slipped out the back. We ran around the trailer and sprinted to the car. The cow ignored us, and we ignored her.

"All right, Einstein. You ready?" I asked.


I set the time circuits for my own time and punched it. We arrived back in the Walmart parking lot about a minute after we left, skidding to a halt beside Doc and a very surprised Scott.

I stepped out of the car and said, "Nice wheels, Doc."

Scott looked at me for a moment, then turned his attention back to Doc.

"As I was saying," Scott said, "I don't mind you being out here, just as long as you have a permit from the city to conduct scientific experiments. You haven't done anything wrong."

"Actually, he had a meth lab back in the sixties," I said.

Scott looked at me, then back at Doc in surprise.

Doc held up his hands and looked back and forth between us. ",'s not what you think. Really."

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