A date wanted to see a movie and suggested the drive-in, because he knew the novelty would appeal to me. Two movies for the price of one (actually, even cheaper than one at a standard theater) sounds like a good deal, right? Except… I can't sit through movies. I prefer to be doing other things with movies in the background. I like to get up and wander around. Two movies meant twice as long to be sitting doing nothing. Well, nothing except watching a movie.
We paid at the gate and drove towards the massive parking lot bordered by four large screens. There were little wooden guardrails to keep you on the path to your screen: one immediately to the right, branch off here for screen two, over there for three. We continued to the back of the lot, screen four. Only a handful of cars were spaced around, so we ignored the faded lines and parked in what would be the middle row of the theater. I was a little bummed that there were no speakers on posts, like I had heard about. Instead we tuned the radio to a certain frequency, and after a few scans, finally picked up the dialogue.
The best part about the drive-in, besides the novelty of it all, is that you can do whatever you want in your car without disturbing anyone. I don't mean that in an X-rated way, either. I mean that you can sit with your date and mock the entire first movie, the one you didn't want to see, making up your own dialogue and easily predicting what will happen next. Short of flashing your brights in Morse code, you're not going to annoy anyone; it's like being on your own little island.
There's an intermission between movies, the same clip they must have shown in the 70s. Concession stand food meant to look appetizing, but the desaturated colors of the film made everything look several years beyond its prime. (When we ventured to the concessions building, I realized this wasn't the fault of the film.) Prepared food is kept under warming lights for patrons to grab and continue down the line to the register. Buckets of popcorn next to a butter spout, nachos soaking in liquid cheese, corn dogs and wrapped hamburgers, cups of french fries. It's a little disgusting; I was charmed.
The second movie, the one we actually intended to see, was good - especially compared to what came before it. The parking lot had cleared out by then, due to the late hour and possibly the weather. Water droplets on the windshield didn't disturb us, and when the rain tapered off it had cooled the Memphis heat so much there was a chill in the early morning air.
I visited the drive-in Sunday, and started drafting this post Tuesday. On Wednesday, I was surprised to see the day's Google Doodle was a drive-in! After realizing that didn't mean my brain ruled the Internet, I read that the first drive-in theater opened on June 6, 1933.
Perfect timing, no?