Tribune-Courier News Editor
Sometimes being a parent means not getting the cheeseburger you really want. Friday night reinforced that as I loaded up the kids– Ethan and Marley– and headed for the Calvert Drive-In.
The weekend started with a conundrum— weather perfect for an outside movie and Transformers 3 on at the drive-in.
Now, before this goes any further, there’s nothing wrong with the Transformers franchise. I grew up with Transformers cartoons. I have no problem suspending reality long enough to believe a four-story tall robot can fold up into a Pontiac Solstice, like some kind of metal origami plastered with Chevrolet logos.
That said, there’s a time and place for everything. And Friday night just wasn’t seeming like the time for giant talking alien robots without Megan Fox.
The kids disagreed. Maybe it was the allure of cheeseburgers (probably not), or the movie (maybe) or just the opportunity to run around slow moving cars (most likely). Whatever their reasons, they began chanting “drive-in” around 6 p.m. and kept the mantra up as we loaded into the Explorer 16 blankets, four pillows, two cans of Pringles (because no child can eat just one kind) and a Dora the Explorer folding chair. We didn’t even look for the bug spray for the first time in months as the night was nice enough even the turkey-sized mosquitoes were probably too relaxed to do much of anything.
The drive-in itself was already fairly bustling by the time we got there. That’s no great surprise given it’s one of Marshall County’s tourist draws, ranking somewhere behind the second hole at Maggie’s Jungle Golf and slightly ahead of the lake. But, as the night just kept getting better, we found the spot I wanted.
For those who aren’t drive-in proficient, there’s at least one spot with only one working speaker attached. If you get there early enough and lay claim to the speaker, it almost guarantees the adjoining space will be empty.
We parked the Ford, unloaded and realized that everyone else had come to the same conclusion about it being a great night for the drive-in. Apparently, they’d realized it about the same time, too, as the line for cheeseburgers began somewhere around Possum Trot. Now, the line for cheeseburgers is almost as well renowned as the cheeseburgers themselves.
But it is manageable.
For starters, there’s patience. No matter how bad the line looks, given today’s ADD generation, it’s going to shrink fairly regularly. The longer the line, the more people that will stand there five minutes before wandering off because they forgot why they got in line in the first place.
Secondly, it always helps that someone will periodically ask why no one is in the other line (which is for movie goers just getting a drink or some popcorn). Move another few people.
And as you get closer to the start time, a few more will drop out in fear of missing the opening credits or mandatory opening scene explosion.
Unfortunately for the Norwoods, the line didn’t move fast enough Friday night.
Marley became a Transformer herself, a two-foot tall airplane buzzing the shins of anyone within her flying range. Ethan– probably the only one in the trio actually there for the movie– did what most 10-year old boys would do and put a fair distance between himself and his sister.
Slowly but surely the line moved forward. It was more slowly than surely.
As we got closer to the front, close enough to smell the scents wafting out every time the door opened, Marley decided it would be more fun to run into traffic. Ethan, meanwhile, was quick with a tackle.
But eventually it brought out the parental version of a nuclear deterrent– the ultimatum.
Getting down on Marley’s level and looking the 2-year old in the eye, I told her she needed to stop. She shook her head. With the move of last resort, I asked her if she wanted to go home. The thinking from my perspective– as a hungry 32-year old– was that she would want to stay. Her thinking– as a tired 2-year old– was that going home meant cartoons on the couch and probably ice cream. Ethan’s intermittent agitation of his sister wasn’t helping things either, I told him.
So, of course, she said she wanted to go.
I gave her one more chance, which was really my way of saying, “I’m trying one more time at getting a cheeseburger.”
Marley responded by running to the corner of the building and yelling that she needed to go to the bathroom before resuming her duties as an airplane.
It’s never easy when your bluff gets called. Feeling as malicious as Megatron in the movie we weren’t about to see, we loaded back into the Explorer and left the chance at cheeseburgers behind.
Parenting comes with many, many unique benefits. But sometimes it means settling for fast food cheeseburgers.