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4 Rules for Avoiding Death at the Drive-In

4 Rules for Avoiding Death at the Drive-In

I have a deep, unending love affair with drive-in movie theaters.

But that doesn’t make me ignorant of their dangerous lure.

Did you know that 5,483 people have been found dead at drive-in movie theaters in this past year alone?*


And I’m not saying I’m an expert at surviving drive-ins, except I’ve been twice already this year and (here’s my real credentials…) am totally still alive.

(Yes, yes, I know, quite impressive.)

So it only seems right I share my secrets with all of you, so that, one day, our children may live in a world where drive-ins are as filled with double features and funnel cakes and cars as always, but with significantly less death.

4 Rules for Avoiding Death at the Drive-In

Rule #1. Under No Circumstances Should You Walk Alone to the Restrooms

I vividly remember my first drive-in experience.

The movie: Despicable Me.

The time: night.

The problem: I had to pee.

Thoughtlessly, I left my car and followed the bright guiding lights to the bathroom. Walking backwards towards the door, desperately trying to catch every instant of the movie, I rushed in and used the facilities, rushing back out a minute later, wiping my hands on my skirt.

(Drive-ins are no time for leisurely air drying.)

It was at this point I realized I had no idea how to get back to my car.

It was only through dogged investigation, nerves of steel and pure luck that I didn’t remain lost in that parking lot until my body eventually succumbed to the inevitable exhaustion and being eaten by wolves that roam drive-ins past closing to finish off half-eaten popcorn.

Have I told you lately how much I love drive-ins? Cause I really love drive-ins. A lot.

Rule #2. Never Attempt the Stretch/Boob Grab Maneuver

Especially not if you’re on a date.

As much as this seems like a sure thing, make no mistake – one wrong move and you’ll be stranded at the drive-in.

And branded a fool.

Even if you’re lucky enough to be left at a non-wolf-infiltrated drive-in, and have a mom who’s willing to come and retrieve you, you don’t want to know what they’re going to say Monday at school.

(While this drive-in safety precaution seems obvious, I must admit I was aided in including it by Kati. She’s a wise one.)

Nothing can be bad at a drive-in. The Three Stooges is about to put that to the test.

Rule #3. Never Let Your Friends Lock You in the Trunk

For those of you who’ve never been to drive-ins, this rule might seem confusing.

Or if you’ve never played “how long can you hold your breath in my Toyota.”

But today we’re focused on the first danger.

Which occurs when, being naughty drive-in patrons, people hide their friends in their car’s trunk to avoid paying the per person entrance charge.

(As a side note, my dad totally used to do this when he was a teenager.)

(It’s a miracle I was even born.)

As anyone who’s seen even the smallest percentage of horror movies knows, there’s a very fine line between a group of friends having fun, breaking the rules, and watching cinematic excellence and a bloodbath.

Sure, as the one locked in the trunk you have a shot at missing the killing rampage entirely, emerging only in the final scene when the police arrive and hear your desperate thumps.

But more realistically, you’ll suffocate to death without even a plot point to your name.

Or you’ll just die in the sequel.

(This rule is brought to you by Wasn’t Serious. And feel free to tweet her for her own list of drive-in death fears – there may or may not be lasers and hot dog eating contests involved.)

Apparently, it's useful to see Thor before The Avengers. Who knew?

Rule #4. Always be on the Lookout for Drive-In Serial Killers

Or groups of children who ignore the “no Frisbees” rule.

They’re just as bad.

All the best posts have Grease references



*There is a very small chance this is actually true.

Really more like no chance.


Equally Awkward Reads

* At the Drive-In

* Death by Spiders (the Serial Killer kind)

* Piggy Back Rides and Evil Goats

{ 44 comments… add one }

  • Aleta June 6, 2012, 11:11 am

    I have to confess, I’ve never been to a drive-in!

  • Stephanie @ Our Marriage Adventure June 6, 2012, 11:45 am

    I’m with Aleta….I’ve never ever been to a drive in. In fact, I don’t know that there are even any around me. So clearly I’m safe from Drive-In Death!

  • Melonie June 6, 2012, 11:47 am

    Oh, I totally did the hiding friends in the trunk thing when we went to the drive-in. It’s not that bad, as long as they remember to let you out.

  • hollow tree ventures June 6, 2012, 11:52 am

    Man, drive-ins are dead here. ::sad face:: To get my outdoor movie fix, I have to find a neighbor with HBO and sit quietly outside their window.

    • Megan June 7, 2012, 9:41 am

      Ugh, I’m envious – my neighbors are cheapskates. Around here you’re forced to risk trespassing charges for PBS.

  • John June 6, 2012, 11:53 am

    I have never, ever, been to a drive-in. I don’t know how this happened . . . where I grew up, in NJ, there weren’t any around. And now I have two drive-in theaters within a 20 minute drive of me, but, when I find the time for a movie, I head to the theater. I know this is impossibly simplistic of me.

    But, to go to a place where I can’t attempt the Stretch/Boob-Grab maneuver? Um, I’ll pass. I have my standards, and that move is the move which all of my other moves are based.

    • Megan June 7, 2012, 9:43 am

      What?! How have you allowed such a thing to continue? You must go at once – your life just wouldn’t be complete without it! And there might be a wife exception to the Stretch/Boob Grab maneuver – but only if you first get assurances she won’t kick you out of the car.

  • ellemck1 June 6, 2012, 1:44 pm

    Haha, thanks for the shoutout! It’s very important to never be branded a fool. You don’t want the talk at school for that. Or to run the risk of wolves!

    I really need to go to a drive-in. I know there’s one near Baltimore, I just need to get some of my friends to go with me. Because I’m sure being alone at the drive-in isn’t the best either. I’ll make sure to heed all your rules when I go.

    • Megan June 7, 2012, 9:47 am

      Okay, that drive-in is awesome! I mean, other than the fact that you’re not allowed to bring in your own food without paying them and the guy who runs it perfectly fulfills a mean old man stereotype. But the screen is HUGE and if you’ve never been it’s SO worth it!

      • ellemck1 June 12, 2012, 11:49 am

        Can I sneak food in in my trunk? Or would that work badly with these rules too? But a huge screen makes almost anything worth it.

  • LDiggitty June 6, 2012, 2:49 pm

    I wish we had a drive-in nearby! There used to be an abandoned drive-in in my hometown; all the kids fantasized about sneaking in there to explore. Then, one day we did and it ended up being really boring (an abandoned, overgrown parking lot…)

    Um… I never promised this story would be interesting. But your blog post was great! 🙂

  • Patricia P June 6, 2012, 4:49 pm

    Heehee! When I was little, my family would go to the drive in sometimes. My parents used to make me sit in the way back of our station wagon, and try to ‘look younger’. Apparently they were paying the cheaper, little kid rate for me.

  • Abigail June 6, 2012, 4:55 pm

    Oh my goodness this is hilarious. As a lover of all things drive-in I will be printing this out and using it for future reference. Being eaten by wolves at a drive-in is just not the way I want to go out.

  • Juliette June 6, 2012, 6:16 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to a drive in. Not anymore. Oh how I love the wolfless cinema indoors!

  • Mad Woman behind the Blog June 6, 2012, 7:05 pm

    5. Do not go to the drive in w/ the Mad Woman in that skirt b/c you may find yourself with a #3, sans skirt.
    Just sayin.

    • Megan June 7, 2012, 9:53 am

      It’s actually a dress! I don’t know if that’s helping or hurting my chances of survival.

  • Jen June 6, 2012, 7:08 pm

    I have never in my life been to a drive-in… but when I go, I will keep these rules in mind.

  • Scargosun June 6, 2012, 7:42 pm

    I am not sure where I would be without this knowledge. I feel much better prepared to enter the gate at a drive-in now. Before, you never would have heard from me again.

    I know…tragic.

  • julie gardner June 6, 2012, 7:50 pm

    My first twenty years (or so, I don’t really remember much of the original five, if I’m being honest) we went to the drive-in all the time.

    Then they replaced them all with giant movie theaters with the words Cine and Plex and REALLY F’ING EXPENSIVE in their names.

    I miss the drive in. And the boob stretch/grab.

    (But that last part only a little.)

  • Kari @ bite-sized thoughts June 6, 2012, 7:56 pm

    I’ve never been to a drive in, but now I want to go just to try these out. And live dangerously – who knew there were such risks out there?

    • Megan June 7, 2012, 9:55 am

      Oh yeah – drive-in attendance is truly living on the edge. And go, who doesn’t love that rush?

  • Jelli June 6, 2012, 10:07 pm

    You’re a funny lady, Megan. I used to love the drive-in as a kid going with my mom. I remember seeing “The Jungle Book” and having my eyes shielded through the naughty nudie “Titanic” scenes. Never rode in the trunk. I think I’d probably have felt bad enough to shrink back later and pay anyhow.

  • Lisa @ Blithe Moments June 7, 2012, 3:11 am

    I’ve never been to a drive in. This may be the reason that I’m still alive, but I feel that I’m missing an important experience. Alas no such establishments exist in my part of the world, so I continue to hope that somewhere, someday, I will encounter one at a time which is both convenient and when I have a car. Is that too much to ask?

  • blackhuff June 7, 2012, 6:17 am

    You should treasure these 4 rules you have set out here – here in South Africa, the Drive In’s are now down to just 5 in the whole country 🙁

  • Danielle June 7, 2012, 7:44 am

    We used to go all the time when I was little but sadly there are no drive ins around us anymore. Probably because of all the deaths…or the cold as balls New England winters that keep them closed most of the year…either one.

    • Megan June 7, 2012, 9:57 am

      Probably a combination – I mean, disposing of frozen bodies is always just a pain.

  • cat@jugglingact June 7, 2012, 9:04 am

    Love your fun post! Did you find me by googling drive -ins? just wondering? But thanks for the comment and well, rugby is very much the most popular sports for boys in South africa

    • Megan June 7, 2012, 3:31 pm

      Nope – I clicked through from a comment you left on some blog (I sadly have a dreadful memory and don’t know which!) but any blog that could be found through googling drive-in is clearly awesome.

  • spilledinkguy June 7, 2012, 9:29 am

    I was going to tell you how much I like your photos.
    Although I should be applauding your efforts in raising awareness.
    Because this is no laughing matter. Clearly.
    *communicated in Morse Code / banged out/from inside trunk while dabbing away tears with torn bits of dingy compartment lining*

  • 2girlsonabench June 7, 2012, 2:00 pm

    One of us can remember seeing Star Wars as a kid (the original one, when it came out, do not add or subtract or do any math around this) in the back of a station wagon at the drive in. Completely turned one of us into a weirdo, we’re not admitting which one. You may sit, and wonder why-y-y-y- but don’t bother, it’s drive in magic. Thanks for the survival tips.

  • Classic NYer June 7, 2012, 4:44 pm

    Rule number five is don’t own a car. As I don’t indeed own a car (nor have I any particular desire to watch movies) I avoid drive in movie theater death every day.

    And while we’re on the subject, gosh, you have pretty legs…

    • Megan June 8, 2012, 10:16 am

      Aw,why thank you – though, really, it’s the beauty of the drive-in reflecting off them!

  • Jo and the Novelist June 8, 2012, 6:32 am

    I have never ever been to a drive-in. We don’t have them in the UK… I don’t think…

    *consult Google*

    We only sometimes have them in the UK. When the weather’s nice. Which is almost never.

    While I am sad that I have never experienced a drive-in movie, I am pleased that by default I get to avoid the death it may/may not cause.

  • Skye June 8, 2012, 11:02 am

    Movies are so much better outdoors! I have to say, you didn’t give very specific advice about serial killers. Sure I can look out for them, but what do I do when I see one? My biggest drive-in fear (other than the screen falling on me if there’s a storm) is a serial killer silently sneaking around unnoticed and killing every single person in the theater. Of course, I’d be last, so I’d have the horror of discovering all the dead bodies, including the ones in the same car as me. *shudder*

    • Skye June 8, 2012, 11:05 am

      p.s. I feel like a loser because I don’t get the Grease reference at all. Probably because I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen the whole movie, and if I have, I must have been under 10.

  • Ninja Mom June 8, 2012, 11:46 am

    I feel so much safer! Not wiser, mind, but safer.

    Excellent fun, babe.

  • TexWisGirl June 8, 2012, 12:45 pm

    it’s been years since i went to a drive-thru. 🙂

    thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  • Jennifer@browneyedandblessed June 8, 2012, 9:24 pm

    Appreciate these helpful hints. I’ve only been to a drive-in once but I want to go one again this summer. Last time we went there was a guy who had a problem with his car. Any time he went to take a left hand turn, his car horn honked. He told us to just wave whenever this happened so it would lo0k like we knew one another.

    • Megan June 11, 2012, 10:27 am

      Hmmm… that man sounds lovely, but also like he might have been a drive-in serial killer lulling you into a false sense of security.

      (Always be vigilant- an important drive-in rule.)

  • Yuji June 9, 2012, 10:12 am

    Alas, there are no drive-ins in our area any more… I think they went out of business after the last of the people who attended were killed. I’m so glad you are alive to share your valuable advice.

  • Traci June 9, 2012, 9:59 pm

    We love the drive-in! There are two within 20 miles of us, so we’re pretty fortunate. Our biggest problem is warding off the mosquitoes!

  • Kimberly June 10, 2012, 10:32 pm

    I’ve only been to a drive in once and I was like 6…sitting in the back seat so I couldn’t see the screen because my Dad is an asshole like that.
    Oh my childhood memories.
    Cue cheesey 80 tune.

  • Anonymous June 14, 2012, 6:47 am

    haha!! i’ve been singing ‘stranded at the drive in’ aka ‘sandy’ all evening because of this. awesome. p.s. perhaps everyone should have a copy of these rules in their glovebox along with their registration. just in case.

  • Stripeyhorse June 14, 2012, 6:48 am

    woops. sorry, that ‘anonymous’ is me. wasn’t trying to be creepy 🙂

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