We have reached the age where most of us spend more time in our cars than we do in wakeful hours at home. You can get just about anything done in your car. We have drive-thru windows for fast food, coffee and donuts, and even banks.
Heck, even fine dining has jumped on board. Just call your order in and drive up to the valet in a half an hour, your order will be waiting curbside.
As for me, I never imagined that I would contribute to this craze. But I have in the past and now, toting a toddler, I do more than ever. With Matthew strapped safely in the backseat, it is often just plain easier to grab something on the go rather than do the car seat to stroller load and unload.
Besides, if you’re looking for a quick bite, nothing will get to you faster than a drive-thru. The whole restaurant seems to be designed around them. My experience is that they are faster. It’s a traffic thing.
What I want to know is where have all the drive-ins gone? As I sit in a full parking lot scarfing down a Big Mac and fries, antagonizing everyone who thinks I’ll be pulling out, I can’t help but think that drive-thrus are a step backwards compared to drive-ins.
They are remedial wanna-be’s. Drive-ins were designed to be a social gathering premised around your car, its style and comforts. Drive-thrus are designed around traffic.
I had some of my fondest memories as a child at drive-in theatres. These gems have been replaced by limited seating multi-plexes. The only use for drive-in theatres now is as stage props in multi-million dollar movies about tornadoes.
It’s all about speed these days and screens as large as a building that once played our favorites are only viewed as they fly across your wide screen, ripped up from their skeletons by massive funnel clouds.
Sure I realize that the concept of any type of drive-in doesn’t make a whole lot of financial sense. If I owned a restaurant, a drive-in wouldn’t be in my business model. I would opt for the more economically practical drive-thru, racking up my customer count by the carload.
But as a consumer, I miss drive-ins, all of them. And I don’t think that I am alone. Ask anyone who owned a convertible in the fifties, they’ll tell you about the fun times and the good old fashion fun that society seems to have forgotten.
Back then it was part of the social core, a watering hole in the center of town. It is something vaguely remembered at places like Bob’s Big Boy who holds a night of classic car showings with burgers and fries in the parking lot. But those aren’t a normal thing anymore, merely a novelty in a time when time is too precious to even savor.
I wish I could reason that my nostalgia was a result of living in the fifties, but I’m a product of the seventies when these traditions were already dying. It just seems like many of the simple pleasures are lost. Everything is commercial and quite frankly not memorable.
Perhaps I can place my wide screen TV in my picture window, turn up the surround sound, get a big bowl of popcorn and some soda pops to go with it, and invite all my friends to park their cars in my drive-way so we can enjoy a movie the old fashioned way. Don’t laugh, it could catch on.