When I was a kid, I loved the movie The Karate Kid. After watching it, I wanted to be the Karate Kid. I took karate lessons. I walked around the house randomly kicking and punching things. I quoted the movie in normal conversation for no reason at all.
“Daniel, don’t forget to wash the dishes. It’s your day to wash dishes.”
“OK, Mom, sweep the leg, do you have a problem with that?”
“What? Sweep? No, wash the dishes. What are you talking about?”
“Nothing, Mom. I will wash the dishes, and practice my wax on, wax off technique. Bonsai!“
It didn’t help that I had the same name as the main character, Daniel. Even at school, other kids would call me “Daniel-san.” I would bow and do an imaginary crane kick just to show off. Yes, it was pretty sad. But, I don’t blame the movie for this. I blame the place I watched it: the drive-in movie theater.
I will tell you why I blame the drive-in. First, some of you might not know what a mystical place an outdoor movie theater can be. We would pack our family or friends in a car, park it in front of a big movie screen, attach a weird-looking contraption/speaker thing to our window so we could hear the movie. There were no comfy seats and no extreme, eardrum-bursting sound. Instead, it was our car seats and that weird speaker thing attached to our car. We walked to the concession stand behind in the back of the lot and brought the snacks back to our car. Our car became our own private movie theater, and it was awesome.
I watched The Karate Kid this way, and what happened right after the movie ended made me want to become the real Daniel-san. As soon as the credits rolled, every single kid exited the cars they sat in and met in the middle of the lot, and they proceeded to start the biggest karate mosh pit ever. There were imaginary leg sweeps, crane kicks and jump kicks everywhere you looked. Sure, some kids were accidentally hit with real kicks, but, hey, karate was not for the faint at heart. There could be only one Karate Kid. That whole scene made the drive-in movie theater memorable.
Two weeks ago, my wife asked me if I wanted to bring our little one to watch a movie at a drive-in too. “Really? They still make those? We gonna bring our cassette tape collection and listen to Madonna all night? Maybe bring our jean jackets or varsity jackets so we can look like Miami Vice?” I joked.
But, yes, they still exist. We packed into our car with an open mind and found “new” fun. We parked and watched families pull out lawn chairs and blankets. Some cars had elaborate setups with tents and battery-operated radios to blast the movie sound to their parking area. You want family-friendly? Kids ran around with other kids to get out extra wiggles before the movie started. And if a movie was not exciting enough, my daughter could pull out the old faithful tablet and play Angry Birds to pass the time.
But what made it awesome was all the things this place didn’t have. There were no random texting sounds and ringtones during the movie. No one scooting in front of your seat to get to the bathroom, and no one kicking your seat from behind. And it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to enjoy.
So now when the weekend comes around, the question is, “Why aren’t we going to the drive-in to watch a movie?”