There was a time when the Drive-In was the ultimate in cool.
Much better than the local cinema, that required a bus trip. Hard to impress the girls when you’re fumbling for change and sitting in the front row.
The blokes who had wheels were in another league. As youngsters, we heard stories about legends who would spend all Saturday night, parked in front of the big screens. If only half those tales were true, they were going alright.
My first trip to the Drive-In was with Mum and Dad. We took our own sandwiches, and Dad plonked his beer bottle on the glovebox lid. I’m pretty sure it was in winter, and we froze not long after the opening credits.
When I got my licence, it was one of the first missions to embark on. A few of us would park side by side, and imagine we were an Eighties version of the Fonz on four wheels. How wrong we were.
The most memorable trip to the vast viewing ground was with a good mate and girls. In our minds, we had become the legends.
Thommo’s car was in better nick than mine, so we took it instead of the Kingswood. That also allowed me to take the back seat.
Things were going well, until we decided to go and get food. The typical fare of the time, dripping in oil and batter.
I was obviously excited about this teenage feast, because I lost concentration for just a second. What a mistake that would be.
In my haste, I slammed that back door shut. Firmly, and with great effort, onto the hand of my girlfriend.
One finger in particular bore the brunt. The sound of bone crunching and female expletives quickly drowned out the audio coming from our ancient speaker.
Being the sensitive guys we were, we offered sympathies. And then asked what their order was again.
This wasn’t what she wanted to hear. Thommo’s friend was equally unimpressed. The night pretty well ended there. Romance and busted blue fingers don’t go hand in hand.
I thought of those fun times, when we visited a Drive-In a few weeks back. Yes, they still exist. It was part of our school holiday adventure.
What struck me was the change in audience. It now seems to be a family venue. With utes, and trucks, and four-wheel drives.
Kids in pyjamas are set up in the back, with their blankets and pillows. Mums and Dads are perched in camp chairs. It’s like a camping trip on asphalt. No cool leather jackets in sight.
Those goofy speakers are still there, but they’re not needed. The audio comes through your car radio. Mighty impressive.
Along with their cousin Super Shaun, the girls munched on that greasy tucker, just like I did all those years ago.
They thought it was fun. Something different. Next time, we might go in our PJs too. And they know the golden rule. Take great care in the opening and closing of doors.