Back to the Torture

My eighth grade nemesis, Michael J. Fox, is back in the news again with the rest of the cast of Back to the Future, celebrating their 30th anniversary of the 1980’s iconic movie. The blockbuster first deposit of the trilogy Back to the Future, starring Michael J. Fox, made him a mega celebrity.  Back to the Future II  included a scene with Michael J. Fox staring with disbelief at a futuristic reader board surprising him with the announcement that the Cubs had finally won a World Series on October 21st, 2015.  Since this is the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future, it caused quite a stir amongst fans of the movies and especially those who know a little about baseball.  Was Michael J. Fox going to be part of this possibly prophetic movie, thus ending Chicago’s dry spell of 107 years without a ring?  Or, would it merely be another reason to get excited for the Cubs, just to be disappointed two innings into their last and most abysmal loss of the season, thus ending a very hopeful year?  The latter of course.  I couldn’t even finish sautéing an onion before I turned around to see they were down six to zero by the second inning.

I wasn’t a Michael J. Fox fan when he became a daily part of my life the year Back to the Future II was released.  This would have been around 1986.  I had to look into his dashing eyes everyday for the better part of a school year, because his face remained in the locker of my eighth grade girlfriend, and probably every other girl’s locker in our school.   This didn’t bother me at first.  Seeing him many times on his hit series, Family Ties, I felt no immediate threat.  This may have been because my father, who watched the show with us, would always comment on his size.  According our father, Michael J. Fox was only about four feet tall.  About the fortieth time I met my girlfriend at her locker, and knowing girls tend to like tall gentlemen, I, measuring in at a towering five feet six the time, informed her, very smugly and with definitive confidence, of her crush’s height.  “Ya know, he’s only about four feet tall.”  She quickly gave me a “What are you getting at?” look, which also could have been interpreted as, “What are you some sort of an A-hole” look as well.  I chose to leave the matter alone hoping that perhaps as our relationship matured, the picture might later be replaced by me.  I hadn’t graced the cover of Teen or Tiger Beat magazine, but there was a whopper of a picture of me plastered to my student identification card, displaying my awkward smile and unkempt hair.  Gladly, I would have given it to her upon request.  That never happened.  So each day, I merely hoped to find the back of her locker with Michael J. Fox’s dazzling smile missing.    That never happened either.

Wildly silly, much like most thirteen year olds, I stopped enjoying Family Ties each Thursday night and when the subject of Back to the Future came up, I lied and told others I didn’t care for the movie.  When asked with excitement if I’d seen the movie, I’d merely shrug, and say, “phh, you mean that ridiculous time travel movie with the twerp playing a guitar while acting as if he can ride a skateboard without a stunt double?  Yeah, I blew five bucks on that poorly casted piece of crap.”  I was a jealous critic at age thirteen.  I’d walk away with shame.

Michael J. Fox was now Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties, and Marty McFly from Back to the Future.  Therefore, even more pictures of him began growing in her garden of locker dreaminess.  Although I had buried the subject beneath the two of us,  I began having nightmares with Michael showing up either with a pretentious smile or sinister smirk.  He’d then taunt me.  “Do you know who I am? That’s right.  I’m Michael J. Fox.  I’m rich.  I’m famous.  I will be the cutest the guy on the planet for the next decade. And guess what?  When your girlfriend turns 18, I’ll only be in my late twenties.  Doesn’t sound like much of an age difference now, does it?  Have you even began puberty?  Your girlfriend loves me, and wake up with this.  I can get in her locker anytime I wish.”

I’d wake up with my 13 year old frustrated fists flying, catching nothing but dust in our basement. Quickly, knowing it was time to get ready for school, my mind was made up regarding the next meeting amongst my girlfriend, her locker, me and Michael’s delicate face.  Upon her opening the locker, I was going to, with great fury, punch the first picture of him I saw so hard, my envious clenched fist would not only crush his phony grin,  but it would then blast through the concrete behind her locker, thus breaking every bone in my hand.  With gnarled knuckles, I’d pull what remained of his head out of the bloody locker and throw his wadded up onion as far as a ball of paper could fly in a Junior High hallway…….about three lockers down.  That was my plan.

During my mission, not able to run through the halls for fear of being busted by intimidating hall monitors, I walked with excessive speed, dodging friends, acquaintances, teachers and janitors while seeking the locker and its squatter.  Before I could reach my destination, someone pulled the fire alarm, and there was a mad rush for the doors amidst prayer from all those attending the school, teachers included, that this was not just a drill or a prank.  Waiting outside for five minutes, much to everyone’s dismay, it was merely a prank, so we all had to return to our lockers and proceed to class.  This five minutes provided time for a moment of clarity.  If I completed my task as imagined, what would my girlfriend think of me?  What would that accomplish? If I knew her properly, she would have been embarrassed for me, and then perhaps never spoken to me again. For once, I actually thought of her.  She had always been nice to me.  We shared a very kind relationship mostly based on mutual respect for each other and inside jokes directed at friends and teachers making us the most conceited couple in the school.  We had fun together.  Ultimately, it was never her taunting me.  She had never intentionally made me feel inferior to this small movie star.  In fact, he was in her locker before we had even met that year, so actually, I was infringing a bit on their relationship.  It was time to act like I was five feet six inches tall and rise above Michael J. Fox and those pictures.

Still making my route to her locker, we didn’t have much time to talk, so I merely stopped to greet her briefly.  In the process of her opening the locker, I wondered if should bother taking a glance at my nemesis, thinking it may induce irrational behavior.  Yet, figuring I’d inevitably be tested sooner or later, I decided to get it over with.  Peering into her locker with a little anxiety, when I scanned its interior walls…………………….they were all still there.   Crud.  For some reason, I thought with my new found maturity, they would disappear not only in my dreams but in reality.  No such luck.  Still, I never even clenched a fist, and I never thought twice about that funny, talented and teenage girl’s crush again for the remainder of the year.

Every now and then, when my wife and I see an interview with Michael J. Fox, sadly suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, I jokingly make fun of her for maintaining that nauseating collage of pictures in her locker.  She just laughs and rolls her eyes.  I even texted her the other day when Mr. Fox and others were being interviewed regarding their epic movie and the Cub’s World Series Prophesy.  Randomly, I wrote.  “Hey, Britt.  You know, I still tower over Michael J. Fox.  Sincerely, your five feet nine inch husband.



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