As a five-year-old, I was living in quite a bubble. In the 1970’s, when I was born, parents didn’t coddle their children as much as today – at least mine didn’t. We didn’t wear seatbelts, sat in the front of the car, had never heard of a ‘booster seat’ and played outside until the after the sunset. It was a different time on many levels.
My family was on the verge of cracking open. As a kindergartener, I didn’t know it. Sure I’d heard the yelling, seen the slamming, felt the fear when the wheels of the car burned rubber while I sat at the table, but in my innocent mind, wasn’t this how all families worked? Clearly not, but on a cool Friday evening, all that was put aside when right before bedtime, already in our pajamas, my parents told my older brother and me to get in the car.
In the backseat (again, no belts, no boosters at five) with our pillows (they must have provided some added protection), we were off. With no clue where we were going, we asked, and asked, and begged, but determined to keep the surprise, neither parent cracked.
After a few minutes, we arrived. A drive-in movie theatre, with popcorn in both the front and back seat and the arcane speaker contraption hooked onto my father’s halfway rolled down window, we were all set. It was way past my bedtime, but I was wide awake and ready.
And then the movie began. Grease. As a five-year-old, I had no clue who Olivia Newtown John, John Travolta, or anyone else in the movie was, but it didn’t matter. The screen came alive with music and dancing and GREASE LIGHTNING. It was electric. I’d never seen anything like it.
When the movie was over and both the credits and our tires began rolling, my brother fell fast asleep, but I was awake. Humming the songs from the movie, looking at my parents in the front seat, happy.