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  • Writer's pictureTodd Stevens

The great drive-in conflict

Back when drive-in movies were still a thing in the early 80s, my friends and I lived for Friday and Saturday nights at the movies. Of course, the first thrill was trying to sneak in, followed closely by the procurement of illicit booze, and finally attempting to find a potential impromptu date after being emboldened by some liquid courage. One hot July night a couple of my friends and I were at the drive in, huddled in the back of a pickup chugging Mickey’s Big mouth beers. There was no pretense of enjoying taste or the social aspect of a drink. We were there to pound our share of a 12 pack down as fast as we could for the buzz. Mickey’s tastes mildly skunky if everything is perfect, but half warm it’s like drinking musk from a beaver skull. We didn’t care, it had twice the alcohol content of other beers and that’s all we were really interested in. After climbing out of the back of the truck, stumbling drunk, I had to find the bathroom mirror to get my hair feathered perfectly with the big handled blue comb that always stuck out of my pocket. I remember the buttery smell of popcorn mixed with hot dogs and onions wafting through the air. The audio was always strange and disconnected sounding coming from 300 individual speakers hanging from car windows, and it was always just slightly off from the actual film on the screen. That one particular night there was a huge motor home about 5 cars away from the snack shack. As I walked by I recognized a girl I had a crush on sitting in the passenger seat, and her hulking boyfriend in the drivers side. I saw her, and could tell that she saw me. I wasn’t too keen to get my ass kicked by her giant boyfriend, so I looked away and went in to to the bathroom to get my hair just right. I came back out, the beer filling me with false confidence and making me think I was extra cool. I lit a cigarette and started strolling back to the truck. When I passed in front of the motor home my crush was outside. She said, “Hey, come here for a minute.” I was worried about the boyfriend, but not so worried that it held me back from approaching the hottest girl any guy could ever possibly get, the legendary ‘girl from a different school.’ She asked me to come into the motor home, telling me that the hulk wouldn’t be back for an hour or so. I did. We went in and she locked the door. For the next 10 minutes or so we did teenager stuff…and then it happened. That hour he was supposed to be gone evaporated into a banging knock, then a jerk that rocked the whole trailer, and then a rapid bashing on the door. Him, “Open this #%*+^%# door RIGHT NOW…” Her, “Just a second, I’m going to the bathroom…” Him, “Bullshit, I can hear your voice too clearly.” Her, “Just one second…” Me, “I’m about to die.” Her, “Go out that window, quick, he’s going to kill you.” Now, I was about 5’11, and couldn’t have weighed 145 lbs soaking wet. The guy beating on the door was maybe my height but 235 lbs…and SOLID. I cranked the window all the way open, and thank God there wasn’t a screen. I somehow squeezed out that window that was a horizontal rectangle not much bigger than a shoe box. I dropped to the ground and ran back to the snack shack, went into a stall and climbed up on the toilet so my feet couldn’t be seen. I stayed there, shaking for 6 or 7 minutes before venturing back out…after combing my hair of course. As I made my way back toward the home base I could see that a large crowd had gathered, and I could hear the raised voice of the guy who was going to kill me. I worked my way through the tight crowd until I could see what was happening. There in the middle of the ring was the hulk, chin to chin with…my future brother in law, 2 seconds from blows being thrown. The hulk, “I KNOW IT WAS YOU IN THERE.” Future brother in law, “I have NO IDEA what the hell you’re even talking about, but it wasn’t me?” Me….slinking backwards like a timid house cat hoping no one noticed me or my cowardice, as I disappeared into the dark summer night.

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