Back in the ’70s my friends and I often went to local drive-in theaters. I remember a summer sky filled with stars. Night air that smelled of honeysuckle and popcorn. The sound of laughter above the roar of the window speakers. Fireflies flitting along the outer edges of the woods next to us.
Most of the drive-ins we patronized closed long ago, but there is one in a neighboring county that still survives. Sunday night my sister-in-law decided it would be fun to take our families, lawn chairs, blankets, food, and sodas and go see a new science-fiction flick, so off we went. It wasn’t exactly the way I remembered it.
Finally dark arrived, we spread out our blankets, and ate junk food while the big screen glittered before us. For a few moments it was fun. Then the fog began to roll in and the temperature dropped. Someone turned over a bottle of Coke and stepped in a bag of chips. Something in the night air didn’t agree with me or my nephew and our allergies went berserk. I managed not to sneeze on the pizza, but he didn’t. Then when it got even cooler, the car hopping started.
“Mom, Price wants to sit with us. Can he get in?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Mom, Thomas wants us to come sit with him in his car. Can we go?”
Someone knocked on my window and without even looking I yelled, “Get in or stay out but be still!”
It was my brother wanting to know if we had another blanket.
We tried to convince ourselves we were having fun but that’s hard to do when you are cold, sneezing, and the movie has no plot. Finally, we called it a night and went home.
When I talked to my brother the next day he informed me that the movie never did get better and the night got colder.
“It sure isn’t the way I remember it,” he said. “But you know, this morning Jackson looked up at me and said, ‘Daddy, thank you for taking us to the movies. It sure was fun!’ So I guess I’ll go back.”
Things are never exactly the way we remember them. Sometimes they’re better, sometimes worse. I just consider myself very blessed to still be around to appreciate the changes.