Sowing my wild popcorn


Nice girls don’t go to drive-ins. Every mother knows that.

However, nice girls also don’t threaten to run away and join the circus if faced with another weekend of peeling wet bathing suits off the bathroom floor.

Yet there I was, threatening to go on the road with Ringling Brothers if I didn’t get a night out – pronto.

My spouse, wisely, knows when a date is not just a date but a crisis intervention. Swift action was needed!

Nonetheless, with $20 in our collective family pocket and no baby sitter on hand, the prospects for date-night were severely limited.

Where does one go with a cargo of kids and 20 bucks? Why, back to the 1950s, of course!

Racy. Lured by the siren song of bright lights and dirt cheap carload pricing, we decided to risk a visit to the den of iniquity every mother since time immemorial has warned us about: the drive-in.

All those motherly warnings aside, we parted with a token amount to get in the gate (which, by the way, wouldn’t have rented us the right to as much as sniff at the popcorn in a regular theater).

With Mom’s warning about nice girls and drive-ins firmly in mind, I peaked all around to spy on the action.

Where was this seedy Sodom and Gomorrah of the big screen? What sights would assault my delicate eyes?

Children on swing sets. A boy and his dad playing catch. Two women in adjacent cars were trading a recipe for low-carb trail mix.

These are the people my mother warned me about? Truthfully, I felt a little let down. It was all so … ordinary.

Lights out. Awaiting the setting of the sun that would signal the start of the movie, we found the best part of our evening had already begun.

After a brief trip to concession central to stock up on treats culled from the highly undervalued “gummy” food group, the offspring were lulled into believing they could stay up “as late as they wanted” and watch both features!

Thus they were blessedly asleep before the sun set.

This alone makes the drive-in date so attractive to parents.

Still clutching fistfuls of gummy blobs and liberally plastered in popcorn, many small children fall prey to the sandman long before the first preview flickers onto the screen.

The plot thickens. Eventually, the sun set on our sleeping progeny and the screen glowed to life.

With my bare feet propped rakishly upon the dash, I smiled beatifically at my husband as we enjoyed the sweet silence from the back seat.

A balmy summer breeze caressed us through the open windows. Melted butter dripped down my fingertips.

Popcorn, peace, and decent plot development – what more could a person want?

Deeply involved in the story line, I tensed with each move of our movie’s heroine.

As the on-screen suspense built to a fevered pitch, our son, without warning, popped groggily up between our front seats. Who needs 3-D movies and special effects when you can have that kind of excitement right in your own lap?

I eventually regained use of my terror-paralyzed limbs and peeled myself off the dome light. I figure my heart rate went high enough to count as a cardio workout and burn off at least a handful of the jujubes, right?

Four hours and less than $20 later, my plans to undertake elephant cleanup detail with the circus were alleviated through eating my weight in popcorn while enjoying an evening of semitranquil entertainment with my spouse.

More importantly, this miracle was accomplished without a month of advance planning, CIA clearance of a baby sitter, or breaking the bank.

Last chance. Before “the summer that barely was” rolls out of sight, you might consider making one last field trip of your own.

If you are blessed with one of the last great American drive-ins within road trip distance, I recommend, no I command you: Put on those pj’s, pack up the car, toss back the popcorn, and live a little!

I promise, I won’t tell your mom.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt urges everyone to eat more popcorn today. Contact her at or write P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.