I used to love drive-in movies.
Back in the 50’s and 60’s when I was a teenager it was one of my favorite things to do, especially on a date. That was a few years ago. OK, it was more than a few years ago.
In the States the number of drive-in movie theaters has declined 88% in the last 40 years.
Well, the other night I got the chance to relive some of my teenage experiences by going to a drive-in movie. Yes, indeed. A drive-in movie.
You say, how can you do that given the Covid restrictions that are in so many places throughout this country? Yes, regular movie theaters are closed in many counties. But, drive-in movie theaters are not. The main reason being is that they are outdoors and therefore present less of a risk. So the health officials say.’
I don’t know about you, but I am experiencing a little cabin fever. Staying home and staying safe. If I can find something that gets me out of the house, and still be Covid safe, I want to try it. So, when I found out that drive-in movie theaters were popping up again, I wanted to try it.
One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that entrepreneurs are coming up with very creative ways to stay in business and still meet the Covid restrictions that are in place. Movie theaters are no exception.
Two theaters in my local area have started drive-in movies. I had to try it out. I had to see if the drive-in experience was anything like it was a few years ago.
First off, I had to reserve in advance. I could not just show up. Secondly, I had to choose what I wanted. Did I want to come and sit on a picnic table and watch the movie, or did I want to bring my own chairs and watch the movie. Or, did I want to bring my car and park it in the first row. Or, did I want to park in the second row, or third row, or fourth row of cars?
Since I did not know what the drive-in theater looked like, I chose to splurge and I reserved a parking spot in the first row of cars so that I could be assured of a good spot to watch the movie. I paid for the privilege.
I didn’t care what the movie was. I just wanted to be out of the house and experience a drive-in movie again.
When I arrived I drove to the first row of parking spaces in the parking lot for the movie theater. They had found a way to use the back wall of the theater building to hang a massive screen. They then used the regular parking stalls for each of the patrons to park in.
I pulled into my parking spot and, because of Covid, the parking spots next to me on both sides were vacant. Every other parking spot was kept vacant so that there was no way I would be too close to the next car.
What was different from the experience years ago? The parking spots in past times were slanted to that the front of the car was higher than the back of the car. In this drive-in all the parking spots are level since they are using a regular parking lot.
The concession stand in the center of the massive drive-in theater of old is not there anymore. No, sir. The chance to have your food on a tray hanging from your car window is no longer. You are encouraged to bring your own food and drink.
The cars today are different from the cars we had years ago. The major difference is the front seat. In the old days, there were no bucket seats. Nowadays, we have the luxury of being able to recline our seats.
How we get sound and volume has changed dramatically. The old days had a contraption that you hung on your window that was connected by a cord to a stand. I can’t remember how many times I started the car years ago to leave the drive-in movie theater and forgot to remove the sound contraption from my window and return it to its stand. Not a pretty sight, as I would rip the cord off of its stand!
Today, in Covid times, sound and volume are delivered in a quite different way. All you have to do is turn on your car radio to a specified FM channel and there you have all the sound and volume you want.
I am sure some of you are wondering about bathrooms. In this case they are similar to the past in that you have to go into the regular movie theater to use their bathrooms.
The amazing thing about the experience I had going to today’s, Covid inspired, drive-in movie theater is how I felt about it. I felt that night and still feel that it was a truly exhilarating experience. I was pumped to go to the drive-in and I was pumped during the time I was there, and I am still pumped.
And I ask myself why. It surely was not the movie. I cannot even remember what I saw that night. Can’t remember the title, or the plot. I can’t remember anything about it.
No, what I think has been so exhilarating for me was the opportunity to in effect relive an experience of so many years ago — an experience that back then was so wonderful. One that I have only good memories of. One that I yearn for in some ways. One where a great evening was a round of miniature golf, a chocolate milk shake and then a drive-in movie. Wow! It did not get much better than that.
So maybe going to today’s jerry-rigged, temporary drive-in movie theater allowed me to get back in touch with my feelings of years ago, with my emotions of yester year. Maybe the experience touched a nerve that was pleasant and also wistful.
Bottom line. Try going to a drive-in movie theater during these trying times. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.