It was a beautiful summer night. The huge orange sun was setting, with the moon already bright and full in the sky, waiting patiently for its turn to shine. The breeze was warm. It felt like summer when I was a child, carefree and seemingly everlasting. Caught up in my nostalgia, I suggested that the Carpenter and I relive some of our own youth and take our children to see their first drive-in movie.

First, you have to come to terms with how bad your vehicle interior really is, because there is something about watching a drive-in that changes the way you appreciate your vehicle.  We had two choices; the Carpenter’s air-conditioned work truck, or my super sexy roll-your-own-windows-down station wagon, with the hatch-back that won’t open.

The children choose the truck, naturally, as it comes complete with dangerous debris, sharp pointy objects, the aroma of form oil, and a rather impressive collection of brown coffee cups. It turns out there was also enough loose change in there to play video games into the wee hours, but thanks to spilled coffee you’d have to pull the gewy quarters apart.  But hey, that’s not a problem for this generation of kids. They have portable video games and they never leave home without them. Apparently they need to be entertained while they are being entertained. Go figure. I was about to insist no video games allowed, but then I realized I might actually get to watch a movie after their ten minute attention span is up. Best to let them be busy.

Funnily enough, as we arrived at the drive-in, I looked in the mini-vans and SUV’s around us (because I think only four people had actual cars, which is a commentary for another time), and I saw televisions on inside the cars, video game devices and iPods. I wasn’t watching a movie, I was living in one. It was a sci-fi freak-show. Some of my nostalgia was starting to fade.

Mind you my first drive-in was in 1977, when I saw Smokey and the Bandit. I was seven years old. The squawk box clung to the window and the sound quality had that charming tin quality to it. There was a play ground where we were free to run, to play in the traffic and run between parked cars, spying on teenagers, mystified by steaming windows. Nobody worried about us. Kids were free to be kids.   When the movies started, my cousin and I were nestled all comfy in our pyjamas, with our Holly Hobby blankets and pillows, lying in the hatchback of a Pinto. Yep, the car that exploded on impact when hit from behind, so naturally, that is where the parents stuffed the children.  Ah memories.

It’s not like that now. The radio in most cars has digital surround sound. All around us were luxury-style vehicles with all the comforts of a home theatre. Some people even remembered to bring Windex. Now that impressed me. The Carpenter and I scrounged for paper napkins to clear the fog from the windows. We shared the fleeting memory of when we could steam up windows together, in such locations, buth this was interrupted of course, by the screech of, “Mawm…he ate my popcorn,” followed by, “well she took some of mine,” followed by “you started it,” and well, you get the picture.

Then the moon came up. The movie came on. The children were mesmerized by the magic of radio and big screens working in unison right inside their Dad’s cool truck. Peace and popcorn. Summer nights. Awesome.