We like to surprise the boys with things from time to time. An acceptable form of torture, as they get into the car asking a million and one questions. “Where are we going?” “Uh, why are we in our pajamas?” And then come the guesses. “It’s a sleepover. I know it’s a sleepover.”
“It’s not a sleepover. I don’t think you even know that the thing we’re doing exists, so you won’t be able to guess it.”
They fixed their seat belts after I took the pictures and saw they weren’t sitting properly. Kids.
“We’re going to a… movie?” “In a… car?”
“But where will we watch the movie?”
“Up there on that big screen.”
“It is not a screen. It’s a sign with all the words scraped off.”
I had the good smarts to run back inside just before we left the house to grab our Calvin & Hobbes books. We wanted to be at the Lynn Drive In early enough to get a good spot, but that means waiting for the movie to start. The boys read, quite pleasantly — if not slightly confused — while we waited.
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10 years ago this summer, two young and in love early twenty-somethings went to their first movie together — also at a drive in. Oh yes, it was us. We went in FireDad’s dark green Mustang and sat between car loads of families there to see Finding Nemo. Nemo always holds a special place in our heart.
I handed my phone to BigBrother to snap a quick picture.
We look different than we did 10 years ago. I like us better now.
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Eventually the lights on the screen-slash-sign-with-the-words-scraped-off started to flicker and the previews began. The boys sat in the back of our car, piled on top of sleeping bags and a Very Hungry Caterpillar comforter and pillows and blankies and their jaws dropped as the movie began.
As we’ve already started back-to-school bedtimes (7:30, with BigBrother allowed to stay up and read for a bit), LittleBrother almost didn’t make it through the movie as it started at 8:45. He curled up on the blankets, his eyes still attached to the screen. I asked him if he was okay. “Yes, I’m tired but I want to watch the movie.” Sleep hung on each word, and I smiled from my green camping chair just outside the back of our car.
He made it. When it ended, we piled everything back into the car and drove the 47 miles back to our house with two sleeping kids. I smiled at a memory stuck in my head from decades gone by; riding home, tucked into the silky brown camping sleeping back in the bed of my dad’s pick-up truck, I stared up at the black night sky sprinkled with stars, my mom next to me. The 80’s were different, weren’t they?
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We didn’t take our sons to the Drive In to be part of a movement, but apparently we’re part of a movement anyway. We drove 47 miles to the Drive In because that’s the closest one. They’ve been disappearing for decades. But since the film industry is now the digital movie industry — read: no film — Drive Ins are going to be forced to shut down in about three months unless they can fork over $80,000 per projector.
Honda wants to save the Drive In. I want to hug Honda. Basically, they’re donating five of the expensive projectors to the Drive Ins that we, the people who love Drive Ins, choose. I obviously just went and voted for Lynn Drive In in Strasburg, OH. I strongly encourage you to go vote for your local Drive In Theater — or, if you don’t have one and you can spare a click, please vote for ours so my boys can keep creating memories. (You can also text a vote: Text Vote81 to 444999.)
I didn’t realize I’d feel so strongly about this campaign to save Drive In theaters. I didn’t realize a simple summer surprise for the boys would turn into something more, but that’s the way things go. I’ll be sharing this post regularly — though I can’t find a date that the campaign ends.
Now go visit Project Drive In, pledge to visit a Drive In, and help spread the word. My sons thank you.