My One Drive-In Movie Story by
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Prompted By Drive-Ins

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OK, this week’s prompt had its intended flashback effect on me.  Here is my one drive-in movie story.  It could probably form the basis for a John Hughes movie.  I would have the Anthony Michael Hall role.

Here is my one drive-in movie story. It could probably form the basis for a John Hughes movie. I would have the Anthony Michael Hall role.

One spring day my junior year in high school, my mother informed me that she had received a call from one of her friends.  Her friend’s daughter (let’s call her Myra, because that was her name) was coming home for the weekend from her girls’ boarding school and could I double date with Myra, Myra’s date (from a nearby boys’ boarding school) and Myra’s roommate. I assumed that I was the target of the invitation because I had a car (and a Mustang at that) and was a “good boy.”  It was really not a question; this was obviously a command performance or, at the least, a clear expectation of my mother’s — She Who Must Be Obeyed.

I said OK (good boy, remember?), but was dreading it.  Not only did I think I had better plans for the evening with my own friends, but my recollection of Myra from before she went off to boarding school was of a homely and pretty loony kid; in fact, my clearest memory of her was when she “painted” all her fingernails in sixth grade with a pencil and then walked around with the pencil stuck in her ear (or maybe it was her nose).

Things brightened considerably when I showed up at Myra’s house at the appointed time.  Myra had clearly emerged from her ugly duckling stage and was now very attractive — though she still seemed kind of loony.  Even better, however, was Myra’s roommate, who was absolutely, drop dead gorgeous.  (I forget her name now, but let’s call her Angelina.)  And even better than even better, both Myra and Angelina were wearing their school uniforms — you know, the white oxford shirt, blue blazer and plaid kilt outfit, with the kilt rolled up at the top into mini length to create the “naughty schoolgirl” look of every adolescent boy’s wet dreams.  Oh, and of course, Myra’s boyfriend was the hunky, jock-y, preppy type who I knew was way cooler than I was regardless of the disparity in our SAT scores.

So off we go to the local restaurant/hang out in New Haven for dinner, it having been announced to Myra’s parents that we were first going there and then to a nearby movie theater. However, as we were finishing our respective burgers, the three others (hereafter, the “co-conspirators”) informed me that we were not going to that movie theater, but to a neighborhood drive-in movie instead.  They even assured me that they had all seen the movie we were supposed to see, so they would have no problem discussing it with Myra’s parents if need be.  Of course, these brilliant co-conspirators hadn’t thought about whether I had seen it or not.

Fortunately, I had seen the movie as well (an early James Bond, probably) and, in any event, was not entirely averse to going to a drive-in with the charming and enchanting Angelina. And it was quite clear to me about 30 seconds into the movie at the drive-in — and I have no recollection of  what the movie was —  that the whole reason for going to the drive-in was so that Myra and her boyfriend could make out in the back seat the entire time, as they were more than a little constrained by their boarding schools’ strict rules on visitation, to say nothing of Myra’s parents’ that weekend.  Meanwhile, back in the front seat, Angelina immediately explained to me that she had just gone through a rough break-up with her boyfriend (Myra’s boyfriend’s roomie, as I recall) and that she loved being in the company of a really polite, smart conversationalist such as I rather than the kind of rude boys who just wanted to put their grubby paws all over her.  Well, that might sound like a compliment to a parent, but to any boy with half a brain and half a sex drive — both of which I had — that was an unmistakable message to just keep talking and stay the hell away from her.  So Angelina and I spent the duration of the movie in undoubtedly scintillating, but chaste, conversation while Myra and her boyfriend went at it behind us.  And, of course, I felt totally used.

After the drive-in, we all went back to Myra’s house and we were invited in by Myra’s parents, where we dutifully had a snack and discussed with them the movie we hadn’t just seen.  I was at least somewhat rewarded, not by the expected report back to my mother from Myra’s mother about what a “nice boy” I still was, but by the sudden and seemingly heartfelt (and tongue included) kiss that Angelina bestowed on me just before we got out of the car.   That encouraged me sufficiently to call her a couple of weeks later when she was back at school to see about having a real date.  Unfortunately, Angelina explained, and as much as she really, really liked me, she had just gotten back with her boyfriend and he was the really jealous type and, well, you know. At that point, I realized that I hadn’t been just 80% used the night of the drive-in, but 100% used.

Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin

Characterizations: been there, funny, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Poor John…tough to be the nice guy in the front seat with a gorgeous girl next to you and a pair going at it in the back seat, while your hormones were doing a loop-d-loop too. And you only got a teasing kiss as a reward. Good story, and I suspect, not all that unique. Reminds me of one I experienced (no drive-in involved) while visiting camp friends in Wichita my senior year in high school. Too involved for this comment, but will explain at some point. Meanwhile, thanks for sharing your story.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks much, Betsy. My story was an obvious plea for sympathy (or empathy from similarly situated guys), but, even then, I was more amused at having been played so thoroughly than anything else. And it’s not as if my intentions were all that honorable, either. Will want to hear your Wichita story.

  2. John Zussman says:

    Sometimes the most awful experiences make the best stories, and you tell this one beautifully. You’ve perfectly captured the maddening frustration of being cast as the “good boy” adrift in a sea of hormones, watching others yield to temptation.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Yup; you absolutely nailed it, John

      Also, been meaning to tell you –and hope I get around to commenting soon — on how much I enjoyed your drive-in story. Great build up (I was fully expecting disappointment) and absolutely moth-watering. Reminded me of esoteric discussions I had Back in the Day as to why the special sauce on Whoppers was far superior to that on Big Macs. But I am sure neither could compare.

  3. Susan says:

    Well, even if your intentions weren’t thoroughly honorable, you racked up a lot of karmic points by being the good soul you were. I think I cracked up the most at the image of all of you having your snack-and-debrief with Myra’s parents after the movie! Makes me wonder how many times my kids pulled the wool over my eyes (mmm, I don’t really want to know.) Thanks for a great story!

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks much, Susan. Of course, getting karmic points isn’t exactly high on the list for horny teenage boys. Especially when considering the alternative. That said, I remember, or think I remember, that no actual lies were said in the parental de-brief. We all talked about the movie, but no one said exactly when we had seen it. Though I guess I will have to wait a bit longer to see if I burn in Hell for this.

      And, in answer to your question about your own kids, many times.

  4. Suzy says:

    Great story, John. I particularly loved “let’s call her Myra, because that was her name” and the naughty schoolgirl outfits. I can totally see it as a scene from a John Hughes movie. Maybe your problem was the Mustang, you and Angelina would have been much cozier in a Karmann Ghia.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks, Suzy. And, yeah, it felt like a teen movie even then, though this was pre-John Hughes. And, sadly, Karmann would not have solved the problem. As you may recall, that, too, had bucket seats — not exactly a recipe for front seat coziness (I think there was a gruesome scene in Garp to that effect). Plus the issue was clearly one of interpersonal relationships — or at least hormones — and not automotive geography. That said, might have still fared better if I had borrowed my mother’s Impala convertible with the bench seat up front. (Forerunner of her Impala which I did borrow to drive a load of us down to DC for the Peace March in ’70.)

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