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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Holy Hannah, Run for Your Life!

A re-run, while I spend a few days in Florida, thawing. :-)

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.


mybabyjohn/Delores said...

I don't think I could watch that movie NOW and I'm at least twice the age you were when you saw it lol. Anyway, it's ALWAYS good to have a spare pair on you somewhere.

The Angry Lurker said...

Good story and good advice...

Shelly said...

The underwear trick- hadn't thought of that. I can't ever watch movies like that- chicken heart that I am.

Joshua said...

I usually fall asleep during horror movies. What does that say about me?

Wanderoke said...

I was about 10 years old when my aunt and her boyfriend took me to the drive-in to see Mansion of the Doomed.

Memories of that movie still freak me out 30+ years later

bill lisleman said...

I like your life movie summary. Funny. good advice too

Eva Gallant said...

I still don't watch horror movies...at my age, peeing in my pants is a constant risk without any outside assistance! Extra undies and Poise pads are a must.

Joanne said...

So glad this film was released when I was old enough to make decisions about movies I would watch. It will never flicker before my eyes.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I can see where the garbage truck would've sent you into a panic.
Ah, the drive-in. We're so lucky--we have one in our town, so my kids get to grow up going every summer.

Pat said...

I've only ever wet my pants through laughing.

Belle said...

My mom and I went to see Psycho when I was 15. I'm not sure I am over that yet.

Susan in the Boonies said...

We all have to learn our limits.


Your poor ceiling-smacked heart. I guess the ceiling was its limit.

Linda O'Connell said...

We had a drive-in that showed X-Rated films, imagine seeing those bigger than whoopee images as you crested the hill. The privacy fence worked only if you were directly in front of it.

Douglas said...

I remembered this post. A beaut. And one which reminded me of the times I snuck into drive-ins in the trunks of cars... and happily breathing in the probably DDT fumes of the mosquito abatement truck that cruised up and down the rows. I can't tell most of my drive-in movies because I want to keep my blog family friendly.

R. Jacob said...

smart woman
the weather this week in Florida is beautiful! welcome to the neighborhood Pearl!

JohnD said...

Ah! The good old drive-ins - In Australia we had them from Mega-monster 4 screen/4 movies at once down to little box 'open-air movie houses where you could sit with your chick on the back of a motor cycle (no cars tho - other patrons sat in folding deck chairs.)

Great days and Spaghetti Westerns!

jenny_o said...

I grew up going to a drive-in every summer but never to anything but family entertainment. You poor thing. I still don't go to scary movies, and I'm older than you are :p

Actually the scariest part of my drive-in experience was that the public toilets often got blocked up and flooded the bathroom floor. Seeing as my bladder was the size of a pea, I spent a lot of time wishing I was home with my own bathroom. Hey, your advice is still good for that situation too!

G said...

great story...i don't think we ever had them in the uk, but they sound cool

Gigi said...

Those movies didn't bother me too much when I was younger...but the advice of an extra pair of undies is always a good one.

The one movie that DID freak me out for the longest time (and I hate to say I was in my 20's and should have known better) was Hider in the House with Gary Busey. I had to sleep with the lights on forever...even though we didn't have an attic to speak of and even if we did, we lived in Texas and NO ONE (not even scary Gary Busey) could have survived living up there.

Leenie said...

Extra underwear is ALWAYS a good thing to have.

Cloudia said...

you are TOO much!

Warm Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >


Daisy said...

Just the thought of that film gives me shivers! But you learned an important lesson - always carry clean extra undies!

Happy Thawing!

Austan said...

Wow, the memories you raised from the dead! Saw this in Times Square with my Dad. He liked horror, but was dismayed at the turn movies had taken to slashers. I sat squinched in the seat with my jacket up to my eyes.

And drive-ins. Going to the late show so you weren't eaten by no-see-ums and biters. We still have one nearby! They play double bills in the summer.

Great post.

Have fun in Fla. and come back refreshed!

The Elephant's Child said...

I am a wuss. I have never seen it. My smaller portion hired it one Christmas to counteract the schmaltz. I retired to bed.

Sush said...

Yeah...sadly that underwear thing rings truer now than in my youth.

Crystal Pistol said...

You actually PEED? Wow. Now THAT'S true fear. Impressive, really. :)

The only time I ever went to a drive in was when I was dating my husband. Needless to say I didn't watch any of the movie. Ahh... young love... :)

Murr Brewster said...

Fifty cents an hour. You're damn right. I never got more than that, including the time I sat for a girl with a voluptuous stomach flu and bad aim, and also for the family of five flatulent Great Danes. You know, even then it wasn't much money.

Mykuljay said...

This was wonderful and took me back to MY drive-in movie days. You're right - you couldn't ignore a screen that size but that wasn't always bad. If you went to see a movie that was "steamy" in some fashion - it REALLY was on the big big and BIG screen.

I may just have to write a blog on drive-in theaters. You have me in flashback mode. Thanks!!

Mandy_Fish said...

I remember going to the drive-in with my parents (when they were still married) and my siblings. I think there was always a double feature. The first movie was a kids movie, and then the second movie was an adult movie. I always fell asleep before the second movie.

Damn, now that I'm a parent, that sounds awesome!

nomadwayoflife said...

lol and an extra pair of paints, too, I'm sure. Thanks for the advice.

Buttons said...

OK first thing I must tell you is I am apparently a little older then you and I did not pee my pants. I did see this movie with my boyfriend(turned into husband) we went to the drive in on a date smart movie choice EH!(Canadian)We watched the movie him enjoying it , me trying to be brave and having my eyes shut almost through the whole thing. Unfortunately when I did open them it was always bad.
The statement at the start of the movie probably scared me the most. "Based on a true story" Yikes.
Needless to say when he dropped me off I was up all night throwing up from fear.The worst part it took me many many years to go back int the woods. :) Thanks for reminding me, I think. B