A visit to the drive-in

I took my wife to the Greenville Drive-in as the start for her birthday week. Cooked up lamb chops, polenta, and a spinach salad. She made strawberry lemonade. We took the dog.

It was all meant as a surprise, and it worked. We were only a mile from the big screen when Fawn figured out we weren’t headed for a Catskills picnic. When she saw the film playing – her teen fave Harold and Maude – she laughed.

What surprised us most was how much the dog loved our destination, racing around the field of cars to meet others like her, let off the leash for a frolic. The place even made “pup-sickles” for the furry friends.

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People put their masks on when entering the snack bar or biergarten, socially distanced. They relaxed in lawn chairs until the mosquitoes sent everyone into their cars.

Just before showtime, a man went around and “tried out” new socially distanced card tricks on the crowd. Everyone talked about how nice it was to be out and about under the night sky.

I’d forgotten how much I disliked the movie, although I didn’t say anything. It felt very much of its era, the Cat Stevens soundtrack a highlight now. Nevertheless, I got out of the car at the show’s finale to clap. Several months into pandemic, economic chaos, and shifting cultures, we were all applauding this folksy event. I found no metaphors or meaning to celebrate. No, sir. It was enough to be out on a sliver-moon night with an endless tableaux of stars, distant mountains, and a sense that somehow we’ll survive all this with memories intact.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.