Roadrunner, one of Practical Man’s sisters, was not impressed.
Even though it was a classic, unfolding right before her very eyes. She couldn’t understand why hoodlums suddenly broke into song; how we could ever conceive of juvenile delinquents dancing around on twinkle toes.
Although, I can’t imagine why not.
Anyway, West Side Story was on TV but Roadrunner was definitely not a fan.
Despite this, as a good sister-in-law, I kept making her watch, of course. After all, the movie had Natalie Wood and a score by Leonard Bernstein. Roadrunner had heard all the songs but had never understood the context. That is, she had never been exposed to the magical and tragic idea of West Side Story: a really long, ’50s Romeo and Juliet with dancing juvenile delinquents and songs sun by hoodlums.
It’s a classic.
But, Roadrunner just kept sitting on the couch next to Practical Man, the two of them clipping coupons out of the flyers, like bookended, practical siblings on an enthusiastically frugal mission to find the best sale on pickles. They were very impressed by the pickles.
West Side Story? Not so much.
Thursday nights are vintage-inspired Movies in the Square in our town. They remind me of summers with my grandparents at Sauble Beach on Lake Huron. Sauble Beach is an amazing vintage beach experience, to this day. It has the main drag down to the water. It has the wrought-iron entrance sign to the beach, the “strip” complete with mini-putt, fudge shops, giant slide and $2-for-10-minutes-until-you-throw-up mini trampolines.
The camp my grandparents were seasonals at used to project movies on the side of the camp store and we would sit on the grass with the smell of popcorn and campfires in the air. Movie Night in the Square transports me immediately back to age 9, sunburned nose, mosquito bites covering my legs and jonesing for a toasted marshmallow or seven.
In other words, it’s really great.
At Movies in the Square, people set up lawn chairs behind city hall and watch movies on a giant screen under the stars and lights of the surrounding buildings. It’s kind of like camp for urbanites. Last night the movie was West Side Story. The square was full of people. There’s no grass but adults and kids were sitting in bag chairs and lounging on blankets festooned over the cobblestone where the market stalls usually stand on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The earlier rain had stopped and the night was a perfect Ontario summer night. Warm, but not hot, breezy but not buggy.
Movies in the Square started a few years ago and people have embraced it. They come out in droves and munch popcorn under the stars. Even for the singing hoodlums and dancing juvenile delinquents.
After all, it’s a classic.
Our town also still supports a drive-in theatre.
Yes, indeedy, we are a cool, vintage-loving town.
Practical Man and I went last year and I was reassured that while it still has that wonderful vintage vibe that drive-ins are known for, a few things had changed for the better:
- you no longer have to balance a giant, metal speaker on your car window; now, you just tune your radio to what I assume is “the drive-in station”.
- because you no longer have to balance a giant, metal speaker on your car window, you could close your windows against the 9:00pm mosquitoes and swelter in a bug-protected hot yoga-type cocoon. Or, you could really eschew the vintage and turn on your air conditioning (but that totally ruins the vintage ambiance – shame on you!).
- I didn’t have to watch the movie with a seat belt through the picture.
As a child, my sister and I camped out in the back seat on a big piece of foam my parents wedged over the seats. It made the back seat into a giant couch…or rather, the way my parents saw it: a bed. At a certain time, my parents would turn away from the movie and say, “okay, time to sleep” and my sister and I were expected to close our eyes and obediently drift off.
Of course, we didn’t. We would stall and complain and finally, when we had no other choice, I would lay with my head towards the window and peek around my dad’s seat to watch the movie. The seat belt hanging in the way was slightly annoying but beggars can’t be choosers, especially when it comes to staying up late and watching movies that are reportedly far too old for you.
On the upside, one thing at the drive-in had stayed the same:
- the dancing hot dog cartoon between movies
A recent news article alarmed me that our lone drive-in theatre is in danger of going dark. At first, I blamed bucket seats, obviously. Bring back the cuddly bench seat in the front seat of cars and I’m sure drive-in movies would have a surge in popularity. But, it turns out that our drive-in is in danger because they still use reel-to-reel film and all the movies and indoor theatres have moved to (very expensive) technical fanciness like digital. The classic drive-in theatre, already rare, is being wildly threatened with extinction. Vintage is in danger, boys and girls. So, let me just put out a plea:
Sure, the drive-in movie theatre dancing hot dog cartoon is not as well known as West Side Story or as revered as dancing juvenile delinquents, but still, I’m sure you have to agree with me that even more than finding pickles on a steal of a sale:
It’s a classic.