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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Holy Crap! Run For Your Life!!

The drive-in tried to kill me when I was 12.

How, you say?

Well, I did a bit of babysitting in my youth. Of course, one had to do quite a bit of babysitting at that time to make any money, because the going rate was fifty cents an hour, regardless of the number of children.

I once babysat four kids overnight and got less than $8.

But that’s another story.

I sat for my youngest cousin, Chad, here and there; and so it came to pass one weekend that my Aunt Jewel and Uncle Keith decided to go to a drive-in, bringing me along to watch the two-year-old Chad.

You remember drive-ins, don’t you? Rows and rows of speakers on stands, the rows of piled dirt that you parked your front wheels on, aiming yourself toward the screen, the teenagers who arrived in the trunks of their friends cars in an attempt to save the $4 or whatever it was to get in…

I didn’t get out much as a 12-year-old. I was a late bloomer of a gal, someone who could easily be portrayed in the movie of her life as someone who starts out in her brother’s corduroys and granny glasses and ends up, well, giving her brother his pants back.

But we’re going to the drive-in! We’re going to the drive-in!

Jewel and Keith up front, Chad and I in the back, what movie are we going to?

Why, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, of course!

I remember, quite clearly, Chad running ahead of me to the playground, lifting and placing him on the swing. The drive-in screen was visible, just beyond a couple trees, and I pushed Chad absent-mindedly while I watched the movie, watched as the van in the film pulled over and picked up the creepy hitchhiker, the one who went on to play with a knife, the one they kicked out a couple miles down the road.

I couldn’t hear it, of course, but even a fifth grader could tell you that this was not going to end well.

A number of hot dogs, some popcorn, a small keg of pop later, and we were in the back seat of the car again.

Chad lay on the floor and fell asleep.

With nothing else to do, I began to watch the movie.

Projected onto a screen 100 feet wide and 80 feet tall, I watched, through latticed fingers, as the free-wheelin’, van-drivin’ hippies were killed in horrible ways.

I kept my foot on Chad’s back as he slept.

We went back to their home after the movie, somewhere around 1:00 a.m. and I spread my sleeping bag on the floor of the spare room and closed my eyes.

And that was when the real horror began.

I was not accustomed to sleeping there, and every sound, every creak, put in motion the leather-faced freak now occupying precious brain space.

I summoned the dispenser of fear – the alphabet – for hours that night, reciting it in English, French, and Pig Latin.

Ohway ymay odgay.

It was around 6:00 a.m., as the sun was coming up, that I finally started to fall asleep.

And that’s when the garbage truck came down the alley. The sound of the hydraulic lift on the back of the truck – sounding every decibel like a chainsaw – caused my heart to rip through my ribs, whereupon it was propelled upward and hit the ceiling with a wet, percussive slap.

I peed my pants.

And then I died of fear.

You know, every day, I try to learn a little something.

What did I learn that day?

That there’s no way to ignore a screen that size.

And that you should always pack one more pair of underwear than you think you’ll need.


Madame DeFarge said...

There is so much to learn from this post. The enxt time I go to the pictures, I'll take clean underwear. I generally prefer popcorn, but I'm willing to try anything once.

Douglas said...

Horror movies never bothered me as a youngster. But I watched The Exorcist one night and never viewed my young son quite the same way again.

The Retired One said...

Thank God they have Depends now..you can be scared shitless and still keep your dignity. (But not much else).

I saw a few too many horror films when I was too young, and for this, I pay now by not being able to tolerate watching ANY of them. I simply can't. Even violence on TV bothers me. Which is why I now even have trouble with watching the evening news (oh, and hockey games). Sigh.

Barbara Blundell said...

Know what you mean The wicked stepmother in Snow white caused many sleepless nights too as did the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz

Pearl said...

Madame, I am here but to serve. :-)

Douglas, ha! I finished reading The Exorcist the night our dog had her first epileptic seizure!

Retired One, I had not considered the practical applications when not supported by the medical ones. Could be quite a time saver as well.

Barbara, oh, the witch in Snow White -- and the wolf in the Three Little Pigs. I do recall that wolf on the big screen... I was maybe four, and when he showed up I mortified my mother by laying on the floor -- the filthy floor! -- rather than watch. :-D

Susan said...

Ii feel so bad for you. And I feel so bad that I enjoyed that post so much - at your expense. I saw Poseidon Adventure at the drive-in. Ask me if I've even considered going on a cruise. Hell no.

a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! said...

word. pants peeing is the pits.

@eloh said...

I'm not sure rating films now days helps all that much.

I saw Hush Hush Sweet Charlote (babysitting) and it was supposed to be a love story. I was in my twenties before the thought of someone chopping my hand off as I stuck it into a dark room to turn on a light, started to fade from my mind.....huh...actually, I couldn't have written this if it wasn't still back there somewhere.

mapstew said...

Oh Pearl, you do make me smile.

Pop and Ice said...

I haven't watched any type of horror movie since I was in Junior High. I would have nightmares upon nightmares, so I stopped seeing these films.

I also travel with more underwear AND medication than I need. You never know where or for how long you might be stranded.

And, yes, I have an emergency box in my basement. Just like the government and The Red Cross recommends!

♥ Braja said...

You truly are a nutcase Pearl, and I love it. And you :)

Jane said...

LOVE your blog! I'm with you on the horror flicks. Not the best way to get a night's sleep. I yi yi. LOL You are really very funny! I have a blog you might like, let me know what you think...

www.livinginthelandofnod.blogspot.com. I'd value your opinion.

Thanks, Pearl!!

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...

We had a drive-in in my neighborhood that we would always sneak into through the chain link fence outside my best friends back yard. The first movie I ever saw there was the Exorcist. I had a hell of a time getting home, seeing how I lived just across the street from my friends house it didn't seem like it should have been that great of a feat. Taking those twenty steps across the street sure seemed like it took a while. And what were all those noises I was hearing? Was that a scream? I must have heard something every time I took a step. I still love horror movies.