Amarillo Sam's Drive-In Round Up
Sunday, July 5th, 1981
Is it just me or is having fun in America getting a little too passive? I asked this question just last night when I went with my date Juanita Tubbs over to Alvin’s drive-in. I was expecting to see one of those one-for-her/one-for-me double bills that I’d normally just rather pour salt in my Hemicuda’s gas tank than have to sit through, but Juanita said there’s something about felt fabric that puts her in a “special kind of mood” so I figured suffering through the “Great Muppet Caper” was a small price to pay for a little nookie on the Fourth of July. However, what we were met with instead was a lot full of anxious families, eating sticky food and anticipating a fireworks show in honor of our great nation’s independence. Now I’m not knocking a little patriotism, but isn’t the idea of bombs bursting in air while you change your baby’s diaper on the car trunk the exact opposite of what that ritual is all about?
Now if you happened to attend last night’s fireworks display -- or if you maybe live in an immediate 500-mile radius of Sinkwood -- you’ll know that we didn’t start the evening with the typical, same as last year, paint the sky by numbers, more predictable than a twelve year old with a stack of girlie magazines and an empty house on a Friday night show. What we were treated to instead was a true showing of American revolution.
While the facts are still coming in, it’s apparent that the projectionist, Leland “Ding” Stiltz, took it upon himself to hold the night ransom with a fireworks show of his own -- apparently in protest of the very thing I’m getting at, that we take those freedoms granted us more than 200 years ago by a bunch of New England academics and rich southern rednecks so lightly that we can’t even grasp the idea of stating our own point-of-view anymore. This opposition toward the underdog was broadcast to me in techno-color last night when an angry mob cheered on the police force as they hauled ole Ding away in a paddy-wagon just in time for the planned fireworks show to commence, which lasted about 10 minutes, concluded in a grand finale carbon copied from the many years before it, and ended with a bunch of tired, blitzed citizens angrily honking their horns at each other as they fought to get home and catch the tail-end of a Dallas re-run.
Now I know what you’re saying: “Sam’s gone commie on us! He’s on the side of the pink-o protestor!” No, sir, not at all. ‘Matter of fact I’m still pretty steamed that Ding’s antics upset Juanita Tubbs so much that she made me take her home on the spot, opting to bypass the singing muppets and, therefore, the backseat banana split altogether. But I do think we need to use this event as a small lesson on what it means to blow stuff up on America’s birthday. Sure, it’s fun, and satisfies us on a level of animal instinct unmatched even by what turns us on when the lights go off. Deeper than that, though, is this celebration of protest -- the fireworks meant to stand in place for the bombs of revolution all those years ago. If you take it from your buddy Sam, you don’t have to agree with Ding -- or light up half the cars surrounding your proverbial projection booth -- but you do need to open those lips every once in awhile for something other than smacking bubble gum.
And speaking of cold showers, I was able to drop Juanita off and hop back to Alvin’s just in time for the second show, “Final Exam”, a true-to-life expose of life on campus after a lunatic from the local insane asylum breaks loose and goes hunting. Let’s grade the report card:
--A finely tuned student body staying after class to earn some extra credit in biology; a killer who fashions himself a psychopathic Moe from “The Three Stooges” and likes to tally up his body count with the scoreboard hanging over the basketball court; and a piano prodigy who likes to play the keys nekked and gives a new meaning to the term summa cum laude.
Sam says check it out, and if you see Juanita Tubbs, tell her she owes me 5 bucks and no hard feelings.