Friday, July 14, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Skyway Drive-In

The Skyway Drive In was perhaps the worst place in the history of cinema to watch a movie.  It was though, without question, an excellent place to drink beer as an underage adult.  This was the primary appeal for most of the bitter end of the Skyway's glorious run as a screening home of first run Hollywood films.  Sure, there were the occasional family or couple attending.  There was nothing like watching a movie in the car with the absolutely awful clip on silver speaker.  For the most part though, it was punks like me walking around the lot drinking like it was a Browns tailgate.

A friend of mine had a Delta Olds 88, which was a car about the size of my first apartment.  That car had two things going for it.  First, it had a pretty good aftermarket car stereo, which played almost exclusively Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, and regrettably Def Leppard.  Second, it had an enormous trunk, which could easily hold an overloaded cooler and two adult men.  Though the prices at the Skyway were certainly reasonable, part of the allure was trying to sneak in for free.  By this time I had already developed a strong set of sales skills and always persuaded someone else to climb into the coffin like trunk.  In retrospect it must have seemed a bit of a tip-off to have two young men in an enormous car ask for two tickets to a movie and the car being wildly weighed down in the trunk.  “What’s in the back son?”  Rock salt sir.

There was a specific area where the “cool” kids parked.  This was the area where that Olds 88 always came to rest.  I never felt like I was a “cool” kid at the time, but there is a perception out there now that I was at least at the outer peripheral of that clique.  I wish someone would have confirmed that with me at the time that I was “in”, as I spent most of those years feeling awkward and painfully unaware of what I was supposed to be doing.  I tried to blend in with the herd.  I generally stood around in the dark learning how to drink beer, making small talk, and trying to see whom else was standing around by the cars in the dark doing the same thing I was.  

The Skyway turned a blind eye to this activity, as I am sure they were barely scraping by as a business.  During the height of my time as a Skyway customer, they made the move from the giant silver speaker that you would attach to your driver’s side window to having the sound broadcast on a low power FM.  While the sonic quality increased from “fucking terrible” to “I can sort of hear it now” with the move to FM, it wasn’t without issues.  While it was good to be able to hear the dialogue from the movie, it was always delayed by a half second.  This made all movies appear as if they were dubbed into English as if everything was a cheap karate movie.  The other issue was people’s car batteries would die out by playing the radio, so it was important to remember to turn the car on once in awhile or at least have a friend nearby with jumper cables.

I didn’t watch any movies at the Skyway.  In fact, the only movie I remember attending was “Blade Runner” which I then failed to recap at all at the family breakfast table the next morning.  Sample conversation:  Mother:  How was the movie?  Me:  It was OK.  Her:  What was it about?  Me:  I don’t know.  Her:  Why don’t you know?  Me:  I don’t know.  (I spent two years responding “I don’t know” to any question asked of me by my parents.)

The Skyway Drive In is most memorable to me for reasons outside of cinema.  I remember a guy named Rick getting accidentally locked into the Olds 88 trunk when the key broke off in the lock.  In case you ever want to know what someone would sound like that got buried alive in a coffin, I can tell you.  It’s not pretty.  Rick freaked the fuck out.  I was pretty helpful as I stood around holding a beer saying, “He’s really freaking out in there.  This isn’t cool.”  I’m a good guy in a crisis that way.  Eventually the back seat of the Olds 88 was removed allowing Rick the emerge from the trunk like a trapped miner, wide eyed and dazed from the experience.  It was quite the buzz at the Skyway, let me tell you.

The other key memory was the time I brushed my two (2) fingers on my right hand on the outside of the panties of a very desirable young woman in the back of a Honda.  She must have had very impaired judgment as the entire episode went from “highly unlikely” to “oh my God, this is happening!” very quickly.  I am not saying I was inexperienced, but my finger technique at the time was very similar to the motion and pressure one would use on a scratch off lottery ticket.  I am now quite certain that this lack of technique, lack of subsequent timely follow up via phone call, and likely strong negative reaction from her friends all but assured me of the ensuing amnesia from her regarding this incident.  I will say this.  Mistakes were made.

It’s a shame that the time of the drive in movie has passed.  A summer night like this would be perfect to load up the car with beer and some of my middle aged friends in the trunk.  The real problem is that I don’t think I have any friends that would climb into a trunk (outside of Leo of course), and there just aren’t any drive ins any longer.  Also having a car with a trunk in the front that is about the size of a laundry hamper might pose an issue.  It’s a shame.  I’d like to finally see Blade Runner.


At July 21, 2017 at 2:35:00 PM EDT , Blogger Chiller said...

Good stuff Greg. Tulsa still has a drive-in and it's in pretty good shape. This brings back some memories.


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