My son eagerly anticipated the release of The Avengers so of course we just had to go. On opening day.
And, for a little nostalgia, we opted to go to the Leicester Drive-In, right off of Route 9 in Massachusetts. I looked online for the hours of operation, and it mentioned that all movies began at ‘dusk’. Now there is a nebulous word, don’t you agree? When exactly is dusk? I know it comes right after twilight (whenever that is exactly…) but when? I believe it is certainly open to interpretation, as evidenced by the time our movie actually began.
Thus did our long and painful evening commence.
I figured that since it was opening day, and that perhaps hordes of folk would be just as nostalgic, we would leave the house and get there right before the gates opened, which happened to be at 6pm. Big mistake. Since it was May 4, the daylight here on the east coast tends to linger. Unfortunately, I did not add that to the equation. We arrived promptly at 5:30 (forgetting that the theater was only 14 miles away) and we were the second car in line, if you could call it that. No mass of humanity yet. After all, dusk was still distant. Whenever that was. We soon found out.
At the appointed hour of 6pm, an elderly lady drove her battered minivan up to the gate, got out, and opened the door to the box office. She brought with her a metal cash box, a plug-in phone from the ’70’s (!), and what appeared to be a hastily purchased fast food dinner consisting of something saturated in fat. I deduced that by the stains of grease that bled through the wrappers. And remember, I was second in line.
We then paid our fare of $20 a carload, (quite reasonable, I thought, since there were four of us; Julie and I, and our son brought along a friend), and we swept through the gates along a dirt and gravel-rutted road. We proceeded along the bumpy trail and parked our car smack-dab in the middle of the third row, a choice spot indeed.
Now what? We waited for dusk. And waited. A few cars began to trickle in, and they, too, found good spots to park. At this point and out of curiosity, I ambled over to the old lady at the box office and inquired about what time the movie would start.
“All movies start at dusk, so I’d say, oh, about 8 o’clock”, she said.
Jesus H. I glanced at my cell phone and it was only 6:15. Great. Another hour and forty-five minutes before showtime. It’s a good thing I forgot to bring a book along, to idle away the time. I cursed myself for leaving so early, and forgetting a choice book. And Julie did wonder why we left at 5. I just thought that flocks of folk would descend to this drive-in but I was terribly mistaken.
So there we sat. Well, the boys did venture for a stroll along the grounds, as they were bored out of their skulls, and I certainly couldn’t blame them. They were aghast to learn that the movie didn’t start for almost two hours!
While the boys wandered off, Julie and I marveled at all the pinguid people that somehow managed to squeeze out of their cars. Jesus, no wonder the United States has the fattest people in the world. Just one glance around this parking lot and one can see why. Every gaze brought ponderous people into view, all plodding around their cars like a herd of pachyderms. Plodding and eating. I guess it must be de rigueur to be obese and eat copious amounts of carbohydrates prior to a drive-in movie.
To break the monotony, I took the boys down the street to a Dairy Queen and there did we meet more waist-challenged folk, all squeezed into the store, eyeing the various ‘brown’ foods on the menu. (You know it can’t be good for you if all the food is either brown or golden in hue.) The place was suffocating, but not because the interior was small. It was because of the mountain of gelatinous flesh that filled the restaurant, humongous people that barely supported their tremendous girth, all wheezing with eyes glazed as they scoured the neon lit menu board. It was quite a sight, to say the least, and we couldn’t wait to exit.
I procured two chocolate shakes for the boys, and a chocolate cone for Julie and me. (Mind you, they were small cones, and we are quite active.) We then fled the scene, leaving the heaving masses to forage for fatty fries.
(Yes, you are quite right, this post is about the movie, so let’s get on with it. Enough of the asides.)
As the appointed hour of 8pm slowly arrived, a dense fog began to roll in, obscuring surrounding trees and, more importantly, the screen.
‘Perfect!” I thought. ‘How could it possibly get any better?‘
Just then a misty drizzle–or mizzle–descended, like a fine Belgian rain, coating both cars and gargantuan people alike. The boys, who were nestled comfortably in lawn chairs, quickly took refuge in the car, leaving their comfy blankets trampled in the damp earth. Condensation soon formed on the windows (sounds great so far, doesn’t it?) and then we were soon treated to the movie. Or what we could see of it. At least, initially. Grainy shadows and indiscernible objects flitted about the screen. And then the movie stopped.
Fog and slight rain continued to add to the festivities, and people in other cars started honking their horns and flashing their lights, illuminating their displeasure for the delay. Every now and then we had to turn the car on and blast the fans, to eliminate the fog that had saturated the windows. Some cars left, still honking away. We stayed, waiting it out, and I thought that there was no way we were going to leave, especially after seeing the sign at the box office, written in big bold letters, that stated, ‘NO REFUNDS!‘
So we sat. In the drizzle. And the fog. The boys, getting fidgety, asked, “Why can’t we just leave and go to a normal theater?” I sure as hell wasn’t about to get up and go, especially after paying the twenty bucks, plus for staying this long.
Finally, the movie started once again. The boys complained, but only briefly, and then through the faint flickers of things on the screen, and all of us straining to see through the fog, we sat and watched the film in its entirety.
I was sure that at some point through the viewing a chorus of groans would be heard from the back seat, but the boys seemed entranced by the grainy performance before us. I was duly impressed. And it did turn out to be a pretty good movie! How can it not when so many super heroes are up there on the screen at the same time?
Our son’s friend insisted on staying through the credits (for what reason still eludes me) and I went off for one last pee to the incredibly decrepit and disgusting bathrooms, and then we left. It was around 11:15pm.
What a night. But, as it turned out, it was all good. Next time I’ll know not to leave so early, and to bring a book. And maybe a few beers.
Copyright*, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.
*except the photos