Taking the kids to the drive-in

Saturday night, we took the kids to the drive-in. They’d never been, and my wife and I hadn’t gone since ’96, when we saw Twister at the Buccaneer in Richmond, Kentucky. (I Googled. It’s closed.)

The closest drive-in to our house is the Hi-Way 50 Drive-In, 45 minutes away in Lewisburg, Tennessee. The movie was Shrek Forever After.

We weren’t big on seeing it, because the last Shrek was so bad, but, really, we weren’t sure the kids would like seeing any movie at a drive-in.

We warned them the picture would be darker and muddier than the movies we watch at home. It wouldn’t be 3-D, like Shrek at the theater in the town where we live. Insects and cars passing by were the closest we’d get to surround sound.

We got there around 7:30. My wife worried that we’d have trouble finding a place to park, but it wasn’t too crowded, and we found a spot on the front row. She’d also wondered driving down whether there’d be a lot of teenagers, but it was mostly families.

Before the movie, a bunch of kids played football in the field in front of the screen while my daughter and I played catch (until Junior decided to turn it into a game of monkey in the middle and took off with the ball).

We settled into our lawn chairs at dusk, and around 8:30, the movie started.

Our daughter wanted to make an ice cream run about 30 minutes in, but other than that, the kids weren’t too fidgety. No one complained about the heat or the bugs or the crappy sound on the radio (drive-ins stopped using pole-mounted speakers years ago).

When it was over, we waited while a guy used our jumper cables to start his truck, and then we headed home. Junior was asleep before we pulled onto the highway.

“That was good,” our 10-year-old daughter volunteered, sleepily.

What was good? I asked. The movie or just going to a drive-in?

“Everything,” she said.

Do you call them lightning bugs or fireflies?

Here in the South, they’re lightning bugs.

You don’t remember a lot about when you were a kid, but I remember being 4 or 5 and staying out late to catch lightning bugs. Dad said he used to catch lightning bugs when he was a kid and put them in a jar, and that’s how he had enough light to read at night. I’m pretty sure he was kidding.

Anyway, I saw my first lightning bug of the year last night. It was the perfect start to the long Memorial Day weekend and a sign that, no matter what the calendar says, it’s summertime.

Photo by jamelah (Flickr)