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I’ve decided to republish my all time top 5 most visited posts. Here’s #5…

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Drive-in movies seem so 1950 -1970. I’m sure I’m not the only boy who saw, touched or felt his first breast at one. But mine didn’t happen in the typical teenager-making-out-in-the-car sort of way that you’d imagine.

When I was a child and one of 8 kids in the family, drive-in movies were the only movies that my parents could afford to take us all to. You paid per car back then and got a double feature.  We’d all dress up in our pajamas and bring our pillows.  Mom would pop popcorn and put together bags of treats.  My parents would load their stash of Tab or Fresca sodas.  We’d all pile in the station wagon and head to the drive-in at dusk. I loved everything about these adventures.

Even when I was teaching ESL in the 90’s, my foreign students thought drive-in movies were the epitome of American culture and made sure it was on their bucket list of things to do in the USA.

Most Americans now are unaware that the tradition lives on. There are still open and active drive-in movie theaters. I never go on my own or with other adults. But as a dad, they are still one of my favorite things to do with the kids… just like when I was the 10 year old boy in Six Million Dollar Man pajamas.

In fact they’ve gotten better.  Instead of the old mono speaker patrons used to hang from their windows, theater-goers now tune in to a local FM station and can hear the movie on the car stereo.  I have an SUV that I face backwards in the rear and make a nice bed in the back with all the seats down.  We also bring camping chairs and some of us sit outside with the doors open.

Like my Mom, I bring along bags of treats for the kids. The kids wear their pajamas and there are lots of pillows and blankets involved. On the way, I usually grab burritos or a pizza for dinner and get there early.

The younger kids are usually asleep by the time the second movie starts so it seems obvious that the first movie should be a fun family movie and the second one something that the parents and older kids would enjoy. It rarely works like that nowadays but I seem to remember it that way… watching a Disney movie and then being told to go to sleep while my parents watched something racier.

I remember seeing my first onscreen boob at a drive-in by not falling asleep for the second movie. I have no idea what the movie was, but I recall the bare breasts.

Seeing tits didn’t do anything for me even back then and it would have been a non-event for me except for my mother’s reaction. She was indignant and got upset at my Dad for some reason…perhaps he had been called in to advise the director of this movie? I don’t know. Who knows what craziness goes through a Mormon mother’s mind when flesh is revealed. I’m guessing that it was my dad who selected the movie and so he was to blame for its contents. My mother’s freaking out about it only further solidified my first impression that this was something I should NOT be seeing… ever.

To tell the truth, the actual movie is secondary to the whole experience anyway.  Yesterday the kids asked to go see a drive-in movie this weekend and I said OK without even knowing what’s playing. I can’t even tell you one drive-in movie I saw as a kid although I’d guess a Herbie the Lovebug or Apple Dumpling Gang sequel was thrown in there somewhere.

But the pair of boobs, those I remember.

Now, I’m not one to take my kids R rated movies but ratings now and ratings back then are two different things.  I’ve rented old PG movies for my kids that include enough violence and sex that would be R today. But I wouldn’t freak out if my kids saw flesh onscreen.  What would probably happen is this…. the kids would scream, “GROSS!!”  or “Yuck!” or “Disgusting!”

After 10 years of living with their mother who, like my own mother, wasn’t on good terms with her own flesh let alone the flesh of others, this sort of reaction bugs me. So, I’d probably interject with  something  like, “That’s not disgusting.  It’s someone’s body.  It’s inapropriate maybe, but it’s not disgusting.” In fact I’m fairly certain I’ve said that enough in other situations that my kids could probably repeat the speech on their own.

I’m just trying to help them appreciate and not fear their own bodies. I’d rather that they recoil at unkindness and hypocrisy than at human flesh.

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