I Could Travel Through Time

When I was a kid, I could travel through time. I could only go forward, though, never backwards.

drive-in-theater-5

And only in very specific circumstances.

I mean, I couldn’t just time travel on a whim. A very particular set of events had to occur in order to be able to jump into the future.

The first requirement that needed to be met was that either a new James Bond movie or a Godzilla movie, or something else that was in new release that we as a family wanted to see, had to be playing at the local Drive-In Theater.

We were a family built for Drive-In Theaters. Dad got a station wagon and I like to think it was specifically so he could back into the stall at the Drive In and open the back. We would all spread out and eat popcorn and hide our eyes from the action on screen. Sometimes we would be hiding from Bond being in a precarious position while fighting a nefarious bad guy, or Godzilla being in a precarious position while fighting a nefarious bad monster (there is an essay in there somewhere about how Bond and Godzilla are basically the same character).

Back then, in the late 60s and early 70s, going to the Drive-in was still at the height of Americana, and considered to be wholesome family fun. A mere short decade later it was almost the exact opposite.  F’rinstance, one time in the early 80s when my best friend Scott and I were in High School, we experienced a dead battery one freezing cold winter night at the Drive In.

We had snuck in to see a double feature of “Dagmar’s Hot Pants, Inc” and “Swedish Fly Girls” at the Riverdale Drive-In just outside of Roy, Utah. The lot was about half filled with cars, each occupied by creepy people. We know this because we had to go knocking on windows to get a jump for the car battery. You don’t know what awkward and uncomfortable is until you are a teenager stuck on a freezing night at a Drive In knocking on fogged up windows asking for a jump.

But back to the point at hand, Dad liked James Bond films and Mom preferred Scary stuff. I remember pretty clearly Dad taking us to see “Live And Let Die” when it first came out and our excitement about that. And one time I remember Mom taking us to a triple feature that included “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”, “Frogs”, and “Godzilla Vs The Smog Monster” (I think that is right) and the uneasy quietude that comes over kids when they realize that they are in way over their heads.

The second requirement that had to be met in order for Time Travel to take place was a quiet drive home from the Drive-in after the movies. On the drive home I would sit quietly in the back seat and concentrate really hard on the lights from outside the vehicle that would swim by, fluttering across the interior of the vehicle and over the back seat and past my eyes. I would count the seconds between street lights, and the length that we would be stopped at an intersection. I would try listen in to the radio station that Dad would have on, which was usually big band and classics, while trying to blur out the voices of the singers. I would let my parent’s occasional soft voices lay over me like a blanket.

If I did all of this right, the roughly 40 minute drive home could be shortened to 10 minutes – effectively letting me travel 30 minutes into the future.

As I got older this ability became tougher and tougher to recreate. It was definitely over when my Dad said that I was too big to carry in from the car anymore.

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