‘Back to the Future’: How Exactly Did Marty McFly and Doc Brown Meet?

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We all know how the story of Back to the Future starts out ever so innocuously, with Marty meeting the Doc just past midnight in the parking lot of a mall. But their exact, ahem,  relationship was never quite explained. And no, it’s not quite what you’re thinking, if you think their relationship might have been a little bit too strange for comfort. In fact the answer is rather simple, so don’t let your mind go there.

(PHOTOSThe Multitalented Michael J. Fox)

The question emerged on the Mental Floss blog, and pretty soon someone by the name of Bob Gale (that would be co-writer of the Back to the Future series, to you) explained the situation:

For years, Marty was told that Doc Brown was dangerous, a crackpot, a lunatic. So, being a red-blooded American teenage boy, age 13 or 14, he decided to find out just why this guy was so dangerous. Marty snuck into Doc’s lab, and was fascinated by all the cool stuff that was there. when Doc found him there, he was delighted to find that Marty thought he was cool and accepted him for what he was. Both of them were the black sheep in their respective environments. Doc gave Marty a part-time job to help with experiments, tend to the lab, tend to the dog, etc.

And while this is the Internet so there really is no proof that Tina Fey isn’t totally actually writing this article, despite the byline, there is no proof that it’s really Bob Gale either. But I would say the description is innocent and reasonable sounding enough to make it a logical explanation. Sometimes, a friendship is just that — a friendship.

(MORE: Bob Gale Talks Back To The Future, 25 Years Later)

Erica Ho is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.