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Back to ‘Back to the Future:’ The Gamble House (Doc Brown’s Home) – May 21, 2015

October 21, 2015, was the date that Doc Brown, Marty McFly, and Jennifer Parker visited in Back to the Future: Part II, and, by no mere coincidence, 2015 is the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future. (It’s a nice round number, after all.) For that reason, on the 21st of every month leading up to the big day, Fanbase Press invites you to join actor Samm Levine (Freaks and Geeks, Selfie) and FP Senior Contributor Drew Siragusa as they revisit the locations used in the BTTF films. Along the way, they will be joined by contributors writing about what Back to the Future means to them and how it has influenced their lives over the past three decades.


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May 21, 2015
by Graham Stone Johnson

I’m not sure just how many people saw me in that moment, gaping at my phone akin to Doc Brown when he learned the need for 1.21 gigawatts, or heard the slew of expletives I uttered, but I’m guessing it was more than none.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself though . . .

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not much for planning. When opportunities arise to take part in picking or choosing, I tend to fade back and let the group take over. Going with the flow and tagging along with others’ decisions is what I do best. You could say I’m easygoing, carefree, and laid-back.

But, let’s be honest . . . I’m just lazy.

So, when a certain opportunity arose some years back, I had to step a bit outside of my comfort zone, and, fortunately, Back to the Future was there to help.

My girlfriend Bethany was a huge BTTF fan, and Great Scott! if her affinity for the trilogy didn’t merge with my own creating something . . . heavy. I suppose you could say we were each other’s . . . density.

OK, that’s three. Is three enough? I think so. Moving on . . .

JULY 1, 2010: I needed a Flux Capacitor.

Unfortunately, even though someone had recently come out with a pretty sweet, full-scale replica, it wouldn’t suit my needs. See, I needed a smaller one. Small enough to hide in one’s pocket, yet large enough to (Spoiler Alert) place a ring inside.

Many months passed with no success in my search. I found myself discussing this dilemma with a friend who suggested I think outside the box.

(See what I did there? Eh? Eh?!)

Encouraged with this new vision, I pressed on.

JANUARY 3, 2011: Countless Google searches, emails, and phone calls later, resources were acquired and plans were best laid. I called off work and met with a guy named “J” to finalize the particulars. The deal was set to go down the following night. From there, I went to Sprinkles to get cupcakes, because those were going to be involved, too.

(Because cupcakes.)

So, there I was, walking down S. Santa Monica, had just crossed Rodeo, everything was going great . . . and I got a text from Bethany.

It’s been over four years and three phones since I got that text, so I’ll have to paraphrase, but it went something like, “Hey, I’m volunteering to pick up Chris from the airport tomorrow night . . . ”

(That earlier bit about the Doc-Brown-Meltdown? Right here.)

I immediately called her and blurted “You-you can’t do that. I have anniversary plans. I have reservations.” We’d begun dating in January of 2008, so it seemed like something she might buy and not totally spoil the surprise.

She said she hadn’t committed to Chris yet, but there was no one else available for an LAX run, and then asked apologetically if I couldn’t maybe move the reservations to another night. To avoid suspicion, I knew I couldn’t press any further. So, I took a breath, visualized months of planning falling apart, and told her I’d see what I could do.

I prayed, dialed J, and explained the situation. He graciously obliged to adjust his plans for me.


So, I picked up the cupcakes and proceeded to inform everyone in the know that “It wasn’t going down tonight, don’t be asking her things/congratulating anyone.” etc.

Pro-Tip: When you’re going to propose, TELL NO ONE. Far too many variables. Far less stressful. You’ll thank me.

JANUARY 5, 2011: I left work early to finalize some last-minute details before picking her up. When she asked what we were doing, I told her our reservations were at a new Italian restaurant we’d been wanting to try.

Upon arrival, the hostess asked “Two?” to which I responded “I have a to-go order, actually,” and then smirked at Bethany, who was clearly impressed with the concept of me planning. She looked a little suspicious, too, but went along with it.

(Dammit, past-“never-plans-anything”-Graham.)

I then drove us north of town into the Verdugo Mountains, to a secluded, remote spot that I’d sought out weeks prior. After parking, I pulled a table, two chairs, and some candles from the trunk. Instant romantic spot under a—wait for it—


Yeah . . . take some time. It’s okay . . .

Recovered from all that awesome yet? OK, good.

We ate the admittedly-now-cold food and tried not to freeze to death, as it was mid-winter in the mountains. Then, we ended up having the cupcakes in the car, because we were shivering too much to talk outside. Alright, so maybe a couple of extra jackets/blankets would’ve been a good idea. Deduct a few awesome points.

I could tell she was pretty impressed that I pulled this off . . . and while she didn’t show it, she was pretty sure I was about to pop the question.

So, I threw her a curve and said “OK . . . you wanna get some coffee?” and proceeded to leave the romantic, perfect, meteor-shower-occurring-directly-overhead spot.

Suspicions: shattered.

Awesome points: recovered.

Finally out of the mountains, we arrived at a Starbucks. We ordered, waited for our drinks, and I tried to act natural. The coffee was just a ruse, honestly, because we were WAY ahead of schedule and I needed to kill some serious time. I excused myself to the bathroom and texted my two accomplices, verifying they were going to be ready.

We hung out there for a few minutes before I decided it made more sense to leave. Somehow, staying there felt suspicious . . . perhaps because she’d see me fidgeting.

Still ridiculously ahead of schedule, I drove at a snail’s pace the majority of the way home. Cars zoomed past us on the highway, but she didn’t seem to notice as she told me a story about her day. Admittedly, I haven’t a clue what she said, as I was trying to not get a ticket for going too slowly. My well-timed grunts and uh-huhs managed to keep her unaware.

Desperate to kill more time, I made up an excuse to stop by my apartment, then somehow convinced her to wait in the car. You see, I’d told my roommate I was going to propose that night, and for all I knew he’d congratulate us upon arrival when the deed hadn’t even been done yet.

(See aforementioned Pro-Tip.)

So, I went in and basically just stood in my apartment for 5-10 minutes staring at the clock, then returned to the car.

I drove us the 2-3 miles to her apartment and once there, pressed send on my phone before slipping it into my pocket, unnoticed.

As we were exiting the car, she began asking me about the leftovers.

Did I want them? . . . Did she? . . . Should she keep them? . . . Would I eat them? . . .

Food was so not important right now. Didn’t she know what was afoot?!

“Just leave it! I’ll keep it!”

(A little snippy. I was nervous, alright?)

“OK, geez . . . ”

Now that she thought I was a jerk, I began walking with her towards the front gate, then veered off and stopped in front of the garage instead.

(Not only was I a jerk, but also confusing! Yay!)

Then I knelt down, and her face was a clear “Really? Here?”

I finally manage to say, “So . . . I wanted to ask you something . . . I wanted to ask you if you would marry me . . . ”

She smiled and said, “You can ask me!”

I felt my pockets for the ring box and came up empty handed. “Uh. I don’t . . . I can’t . . . I can’t find it. Maybe it’s in the car . . . ”

She laughed at my untimely forgetfulness when suddenly, from around the corner, sped a film-accurate BTTF DeLorean.

It squealed to a stop, and J (wearing a ridiculous white wig and goggles) hopped out, ring box in hand, and declared, “Great Scott! You’ve already started! Here, you left this . . . IN THE FUTURE!”

I grabbed the box and returned to Bethany as J mumbled something about Libyans and sped off.

I finished the proposal, and she said yes.

(Because, hello, are you reading this?)

While I was attempting to get the ring on her finger, she kept looking around, trying to spot the DeLorean, a bit overwhelmed by the abruptness of it all. “It’ll come back!” I assured her and regained her focus.

It did come back, as promised. Photos were taken. J graciously allowed us to sit in it for a while and push buttons. Well . . . we didn’t ask if we could push them, but we did anyway. I mean, who wouldn’t?

So, there you have it. That’s the story of how I proposed with a DeLorean, because I say if you’re going to propose, why not do it with some style?

Now, see, that was number four. I think a fourth was too much. Let’s keep it at three.

Proposal 1 1de

About Graham Stone Johnson
Graham is a horror-comedy/indie sci-fi writer. When he’s not writing or doing his daily monkey trade, he’s working on an animated webseries along with his wife and a friend entitled Monster County. The series is planned to launch later this year, Lord and Adobe Flash CC 2014 willing. He once had a two-day text-rap-battle involving the unrealized soundtrack for a ’90s action-comedy version of Seven Pounds. He recently learned he’s allergic to mango rind, because that’s apparently an actual thing look it up. It’s the worst. He resides in Burbank, CA, with his wife Bethany and their 65-lb. lapdog, Penny. If you care to look at more words he’s strung together, you can read his short stories at

Drew Siragusa, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor


Favorite Movie: Metropolis Favorite Comic Book: The Ultimates Favorite Video Game: The Legend of Zelda

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