Let’s take this RV to the Drive In

In the course of a few meager months I will have finally quenched several long-standing desires of my childhood: 1) attending a drive-in movie theater and 2) traveling in an RV. Apparently I secretly desired my youth to be significantly more white trash than it actually was, but I’m OK with that.

The drive-in movie eluded me for years as a child, seeing as there were no drive-in movies within driving distance of my home in New Jersey, which was unfortunately ironic since the drive-in theater, like so many other things in your life, was actually invented in The Jerz. I had a chance to go outside Baltimore once with this girl, but rains kept us away.

Then in October, in Atlanta, I finally lost my drive-in-ginity thanks to this guy and his lack of ways to entertain four visiting South Carolinians. Unfortunately, we saw “We Are Marshall,” which was an OK movie I guess if you like wondering how multiple people can claim to be the same person named Marshall. It made me fall asleep and snore loudly in the back seat, though that could have, um, also been due to the bottle of Jack Daniels we were passing around in the car. Then we drove through the screen behind us showing the latest Ben Stiller abomination and we (OK, I) rolled down the window and screamed “IT’S THE SAME CHARACTER! HE’S PLAYING THE SAME CHARACTER ALL THE TIME!!” Hopefully someone took heed.

I can’t help but feel some connection between the inevitable fate of the drive-in theater and the sad doom facing the American newspaper. Both once held a very intrinsic connection to the American way of life and both are now treated as relics of pre-digital age that are being outpaced by the wheels of time and technology. So it was with great respect, and a sense of purpose, that I returned to the Highway 21 Drive-In in Beaufort (pictured above) this past weekend on the 75th anniversary of the first drive-in movie theater, which opened in Camden, N.J. in 1933 (pictured below).

The theater didn’t do anything in honor of the anniversary, except for possibly holding some sort of “two mullets for the price of one” special that I was unaware about. Eight-year-old me would have been proud, because it was a hot stinking good time. The snack bar food is decent and comprehensive, the beer we brought was cold and satisfying and the bugs were surprisingly merciful, except for Shapiro, whose hand got bit by one of those ants from Indiana Jones and his hand swelled up to the size of a novelty ball-park hand.

Here’s Wired’s story on the drive-in anniversary, and its slow march towards extinction.

But this week I get to dive head first into the longing that’s been with me ever since watching the first season of Road Rules, and probably before hand actually. I’m traveling by RV from Maryland to Tennessee for Bonnaroo, which I understand is some sort of Christian youth group festival and basket weaving camp. There’s something about being able to travel in a mobile house that always fascinated me, causing me on several extended family vacations to try and pretend our Dodge Caravan was actually an RV. This led to me hopping from seat to seat in the back and trying to sleep on the floor, until my dad pulled over in mid-Georgia and told us to sit the hell still or he would personally stab Donald Duck to death when we arrived in Disney World. I went back to reading my choose your own adventure books and pretending the Caravan was a Conversion Van instead.

Things I plan to do in the RV:
• Drain the battery by roasting several chickens at once
• Watch the Robin Williams movie “RV”
• Strum a guitar thoughtfully in the corner while talking to a film crew about my band’s journey
• Sleep in that compartment above the cab that I will refer to as “Batman Awesome Perch Fortress”
• Sneak attack other cars with toilet water

Other things from my childhood I have yet to accomplish: driving a tank in the Seaside boardwalk tank-shooter game (now defunct); go camping (thanks for nothing, Boy Scouts); have a birthday party in an arcade; mount a Beachwood-wide watergun war.

At this rate, I should have all of these accomplished within a year. Now taking applications for soldiers in the watergun army.

EDIT (via Facebook)

Jonathan Cribbs (Savannah, GA) wrote
at 12:51am
We didn’t see “We Are Marshall.” That’s a movie about that football team that died in the plane crash or whatever.

We saw “We Are the Night,” which was about two brothers facing off against each other on either side of the law.

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