Last weekend was the season opener at the drive-in.
We go as often as we can, all summer long, it's our thing, it's our date night.
But drive-ins are a dying breed, and not many people are so lucky (or as interested), and those people are quite easy to spot when you say "We've been to the drive-in!" and they say "What did you see?"
What did we see?
Well, we did see something, and at the drive-in, it's always a double feature minimum, a triple feature on holidays. But when you go to the drive-in, it's not about the movie, it's about the experience. It's not what you see, but who you see it with.
We bring a chilled bottle of champagne, mosquito screens for the windows, a picnic of delectables (or a pizza if we're in a hurry), a blanket for discretion. We've got this date night down to a science.
We usually throw a lot of pillows into the back seat and tuck ourselves in. The windows are going to steam up no matter what you do, so you may as well make out a bit while you're back there. Or makeoutPLUS* as the case may be (like Hulu, the content of this blog will remain free but Saint Vodka is now offering juicy premium content for a small monthly subscription fee...stay tuned for details).
The first movie, at minimum, is a dud anyway. Movie studios learned long ago that pairing a non-starter with a blockbuster is a great way to direct a little more box office towards a flop. That's how I saw The Last Airbender. And Pacific Rim. And last week, Noah.
Not great movies, but you feel more forgiving if at least one of you has their pants around their ankles.
Either way, the movie is incidental. It's a social event. I remember seeing Crocodile Dundee as a little girl, all of us in our jammies to sleep through the less kid-friendly second feature. Armageddon with my mom and sisters, a van full of hormones and tears. Lost in Space with a handsy high school boyfriend.
Over the past few years Sean and I have learned about drive-in culture. Everyone starts honking their horns before dusk, to usher in the movie. Dogs get in free, and it seems that most people stuff the empty seats of their SUVs with pets, and then they trot them about during intermission, a little doggy parade between cars. The old guy who runs the place likes to interrupt the movies to tell us when the canteen is opening and closing - but don't worry, he always picks a climactic scene or important plot point to mute so you can be sure to find it on imdb the next day if you're still confused about something you missed. And he sometimes even remembers to turn the sound back on as he's finished his announcement. Not always. Sometimes the last 10 minutes of the film will be silent, but that's okay, because you didn't come to find out how the Harry Potter series wraps up once and for all (we did see the 8th and last Harry Potter movie at the drive-in but since neither of us had ever seen any of the others, it was fabulously out of context and mysterious and we didn't mind losing crucial scenes to our hanky panky-hokey pokey. Actually, I remember that the sound was abandoned for the final parts of the last Die Hard movie, but you don't need words to tell you what you already know: that John McClane is tough and sexy and loves making things explode. He'll get scratched up but will ultimately walk away victorious, probably from something fiery.
And when the lightning started crashing during Noah, we did worry for half a second about whether the weather would turn biblical. It seemed a bit ominous. But our rain cleared up before theirs did, and we had the benefit of a few well-timed twists of the wipers.
No matter what's playing on the screen, there is something inherently romantic about sitting underneath the stars, in your own little bubble. It's magic. It's nostalgic. And it's always two for the price of one.