The only part of Time Bandits I remember
is the end, when the boy’s parents hold
a toaster oven between them with a charred
hunk of evil inside. The boy tells them
not to touch it. I think he says, “Don’t touch it,
it’s evil!” But they touch it anyway, and though
we don’t like them—they’re bad parents—
the resulting blast is disturbing. Even as
the curious neighbors step out onto their lawns
and the firetrucks arrive, we know he’ll be left
alone, which isn’t necessarily better. I might
be remembering it wrong. It’s been thirty years
since I saw it. But I remember clearly the dull
sense of dread settling in my bones. It probably
came from the recent realization that my parents
weren’t quite up to the task of raising me,
and that I wasn’t quite up to it either,
and those were the only available options.
This was about the time when all my friends’
parents decided it would be best if I played
at their houses, and not the other way around.
They were generous with their invitations
to sleepovers, but it was starting to dawn
on me that that’s what this was—generosity—
and generosity was something people exercised
when they were comfortable and had some
comfort to spare. It other words, it was optional,
conditional, and unreliable. Our toaster oven
was reliable. I used it to cook Pop-Tarts and
English muffin pizzas, which, along with ramen,
were the main staples of my diet. I was trying
to grow up as quickly as I could. I didn’t know
how much time I had left before it all exploded,
leaving me like the boy in the movie, standing
alone in the front yard as the sirens faded
and everyone else went back inside.