The Starlite Drive-in

      32ta0c900n4sgsm  It’s Friday night. Not just any night, but FRIDAY NIGHT!! Mom’s not cooking supper and we don’t care. It’s FRIDAY NIGHT!! My brother and I sit on the edge of the sofa and wait. It’s after 6:30 and we are waiting for Mom and Dad to get ready because it’s FRIDAY NIGHT!! Finally we hear the jingle of Dad’s key chain, which means we are in the final count down. Then those wonderful exhilarating words….”You boys ready?”…..Yes!!, because it’s FRIDAY NIGHT and that mean we’re going to the DRIVE-IN!!!!!!!

It’s 1956, I’m 9 and bro is 7. We already have our pajama’s on and the reason for the pajamas is by the time we get home tonight, Mom and Dad will have to carry our comatose butts into the house and put us into bed. We have to look both ways as we run out of the house in hopes the guys won’t see us in our pajamas. I’m still wearing my Roy Rogers pj’s from last year but, bro’s are so faded I can’t tell which cowboy it originally was from when they were mine two years ago.

We jump in Dad’s 1955 Desoto and patiently wait for the folks to get on the stick. “You boy’s pee?,” Mom asks.

“Yes ma’am.” we both lied because we knew if we went to take a leak, our folks would runn off and leave us behind. Then we pulled out into the street and begun our Friday night trip to the Starlite Drive-in! Now, it takes about 25 minutes to get there….that’s 4 hours in kid time. We both scan the terrain for landmarks as we travel. Our greatest fear is that Dad might have to pull over for gas and that might cause us to miss the cartoon feature! The sun is starting to set and that’s a bad sign. Bro is already beginning to whimper.

Finally! We can see the glowing road marquee with it’s million little flashing light bulbs. The cars are lined up to get in and once again we are seized with fear. As we slowly wait our turn to pull in we study the marquee. ‘THE BLOB’ staring Steve McQueen and “The Bad Seed” with Nancy Kelly. The second movie is when we’re suppose to fall asleep.

We finally pull up to the little ticket house and there we can smell the enchanting vapors of fresh popped popcorn. We get one box to share, but, that’s OK, cause the concession stand is waiting! Dad counts up eleven rows from the front and then drives mid way across the designated row and parks. He has figured out that this strategic location allows for the most optimum of viewing pleasure. Dad rolls down the window and ceremoniously brings in the sound icon called the ‘speaker’. He spends a few moments positioning the device and then carefully adjusts the sound mechanism. My Dad was a master of sonic perfection. Finally, it’s almost dark and Dad gets out to make a quick trip to the concession stand and restroom. “You boys need to pee?” Mom asks.

“No ma’am,” we lied because we had heard about the gypsies that hung around the restrooms. Just as the big screen begins it numeric countdown, Dad’s back with our provisions. Four hotdogs, two orders of fries, four sodas of various sizes and a box of Tootsie Rolls. We sit on the edge of our seat with hotdog in mouth, soda in hand, fries in lap and eyes mesmerized on the gigantic screen that has now exploded to life in bales of Technicolor with a Woody Woodpecker cartoon.

Much later, after “THE BLOB” was over, we used our empty soda cups to pee in and poured it out the window down the side of Dad’s car. We seldom ever remembered much about the second feature and, as routine would have it, the next thing we knew, we were waking up in bed Saturday morning.

The Starlite Drive-in will always hold a special place in my heart for all the wonderful movies and hotdogs I enjoyed there. A few years later the drive-in served me well as a writ of passive as I became a man in the back seat of my old ford, on row 30…..during the second feature.

HEAVEN AND HELL….THE FIRST REALITY SHOW??

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IS THERE A HEAVEN?
~The Firmament~

     I grew up believing there was a Heaven, as this was a requirement in the Southern Baptist church I attended as a teen. To me, Heaven was more of a mystery and consternation than even the story and outline of Creation in the book of Genesis. Heaven is mentioned, described, indicated, suggested and referenced to, dozens of times in the Bible, but what stands out the most is that Heaven is the dwelling place of God. His base of operation you might say. As you will read, I have no confirmation to any Heavenly facts, as I have had no communication with any of the spiritually evacuated. I’m not writing this to debate the existence of Heaven or any other visionary belief that was written about twenty centuries ago, but simple to ask a few gnawing questions that still seem to elude most ‘back home’ preachers. The concept of Heaven runs as a philosophical thread through most all world religions and I, for one, would embrace the belief once a few of my questions have been answered;

~When you go to Heaven, how old will you be when you get off the ’Glory Bus?’ Will you and your grand parents all be teenagers again or will everybody be their last age at the time of their rigor mortis?
~Seems a great many righteous folk have departed this world during our brief layover, so, is Heaven crowded and how effective was the inquisition?
~What services will be available to help us tract down departed friends and family or will we even care?
~Is there any landscaping or is it just cloudy everywhere?
~What will we do all day and every day……f-o-r-e-v-e-r?
~Pets? Where do we put the poop?
~Will we be able to talk or is it all choir stuff?
~Walk, float or beam around?
~Jogging suits or togas?
~Will there be turf issues between Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and Protestants?
~Will only Hell have rap music?
~Will there be any Democrats?
~Celestial cable?
~Beer?

       I’ve had a little fun with one of man’s unresolved questions concerning his ‘here after’ and as a declaimer, in case I’ve offended anyone, I will offer this proactive apology; I’m truly sorry if I have appeared to have shown any disrespect or scoffing concerning any heartfelt and bewildering beliefs you may have and that it was not my intention to do so, as I respect all devout beliefs and ideologies…..with maybe the exception of those involving professional wrestling and reality shows.
                                        “Faith is believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”

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IS THERE A HELL?
“Do You Have Reservations?”

     I wrote about Heaven, now I feel the necessity to flip the coin and relate my views about Hell….God’s outhouse. Naturally, I don’t want to commit my observations solely to just Heaven or Hell, as I have friends in both places, so I will simply offer my restrictive opinion to both, with Hell taking it‘s turn at bat. To start with, more people believe in a celestial Heaven, than they do in the noxious pits of Hades. The “Old Testament” mentions the word over 31 times, but the word or words were often translated from Hebrew words meaning pit, grave, abode of the dead and dark crevasse. In the “New Testament,” of the King James Version, Hell is translated from the Greek word “Hades” in 10 different places. The King James Version also uses the word “Hell” or “Hellfire” 12 times from the translated Greek word “Gehenna” which refers to a desolate pit where children were once sacrificed in the kingdom of eon. Seems no one could make up their minds about the logistics of the place, so the scribing monks pretty much tagged it as Hell and went to the next chapters.

     Well, so much for the lesson in linguistic anthropology. The fact is…..there is still a lot of head scratching about this all inclusive resort. We know it’s a bad place for your complexion and for evil people and educated atheist. There is, of course, a long list of qualified applicants, from unreformed dick-headed socialist to serial killing crack-hoes. Politicians and lawyers occupy most of the best real estate there, located by scenic lava flows and pus fountains. Dignitaries abound, such as Enron’s Kenneth Lay serving as grand marshal in the annual “Das Führer Day” parade. The long lines of ‘robed’ pedophiles awaiting their turn at the sacred alter of the Castratum Vegematicum, and currently a mosquito filled sauna is being prepared for the arrival of Craig Gilbert, the creator of the first TV reality show. Yes, there are many more purged souls in it’s confines and I imagine there’ll be crowd control issues once the last of the old hippies take that final toke as they trip into mellow oblivion.

     The Devil…..Many have a strange visualization of what the Godfather of Hell looks like. Some see him as a sweltering giant of crimson sludge with blazing coals for eyes and with massive horns spearing meters into the air. His fiery breath flambéing the flesh off your bones as he bellows at you. I think, in true reality, that the devil looks more like Richard Simmons on steroids. Jumping from one outcrop to another, rocking to the oldies like Splish Splash or Flying Purple People Eaters. His little short horns, flaming afro and bouncing man-breast. Scary.

     One last point….God does tend to his children, be they heathen or Saint. The best example is whenever cannibals are on the brink of starvation, Heaven, in it’s infinite mercy, will always send them a plump missionary. One misconception I hear too often is that marriage is really Hell and, of course, in some rare occasions even Heaven. Through my many years of observing married friends, reality shows and acquaintances, I have found that marriage is more often a purgatory for many with Hell being a welcomed recess.

CREATIONISM….EVOLUTION….INTELLIGENT DESIGN….AND MARTIANS

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     I grew up in a war zone of ideologies. As a young teen, I was indoctrinated into the spirituality of the Christian faith. At that time, most all my friends parents took them to church as they wanted to set a good example, and we guys found it a good environment to meet girls. Once I was an adult with a family, the in-laws served as an incentive to caravan to morning services if I wanted peace in my own family, plus an excellent Sunday lunch at the in-laws. As I mellowed and aged, I spiritually morphed into reality and soon indorsed the doctrine of Evolution. It was not until my wilting years of old age that I finally embraced the true reality of life….but more of that later.

Creationism….God created the world in six days and the NFL on the seventh. The saga goes that God built a wondrous garden center and called it Eden. At first, the help loved working there, but, soon took to nibbling at the merchandise and cavorting with each other behind the philodendrons. God sacked the help and foreclosed on the garden center. From this point, Adam and Eve Smith went out and populated the entire planet, poor Eve. Much, much later, God got really mad and exterminated most of the planet with a category 20 hurricane that makes Katrina look like a spring shower. Anyway….God finally got used to mankind’s inadequacies and BS, and in due time God accepted the reality that man was spiritually challenged and needed others in high places to tell him who and how to worship….thus man got right with God and life went on.

Evolution….I’m not saying that Charlie Darwin didn’t eat a few of those mushrooms he discovered, but, even though I found merit in his theories and timelines, it was still a stretch accepting the premise that life took it’s first grunt as a microscopic fart bubble in a churning primordial sea. Then it popped out a couple of eyeballs, grew scales and acquired an appetite for everything. Then it belly crawled out of the sea where it’s future litters would some day produce bellowing offspring the size of Ferris wheels. Then, thanks to a big friggin meteor, most of them were eliminated and what was left eventually downsized to ignorant furry monkeys living in caves. But, a day came when the apes finally got their act together, built fires, ate anything with a face and waged war on each other for the next five million years. That’s evolution, pretty much.

Intelligent Design….Here we have a conundrum. Anytime you associate the word ‘intelligent’ with any debate about Creation, most folks will turn the channel. Fact is, Intelligent Design tends to be a smorgasbord of scenarios. Some grand maestro orchestrated the ‘Grand Happening’ by taking a fact from one category, a myth from another and a whopper from still another. In all reality, after all the dinosaurs had turned to primordial crud, some liberal aliens visited our globe and gathered up all the apes, and then spliced a few strands of their own galactic DNA into the hairy simians and WALLAH! It is, because of this ancestral violation, that anytime you visit the monkey cage at the zoo, you can expect the hairy anthropoids to grin, and then toss shit at you, their corrupted cousins.

     Fact is, I don’t really know how we got here. Hell, I don’t even know why we’re still here! But, we got here and even with our proclivity of screwing things up, we still survive and flourish……for now. As far as religion goes, to each his own. I have learned early in my life that I don’t need a zealous pulpiteer expounding unequivocal directives as to how I am to worship, pray, and kowtow to some delusional manuscripts written by some forsaken monks centuries ago without a spellchecker. At heart, I may very well be Pagan, or even some kind of diluted Druid. But, most likely I’m just a follower of the divine church of reality. Religion was not created by God….but, by man in order to control man. It is a fact that some folks do need religion because it makes them happy, and all power to them, but, the fact a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than a drunk being happier than a sober guy. Sure, religion has had a vital role through out history such as the genocide of the crusades, the inquisition, and of course the 913 devout members of the Peoples Temple that passed around Jim Jones’s Kool-Aid at the last fish fry. Now, religion has been regarded by most folks as true, and by the wise as false, and by most all rulers as very useful! Thus, man has joyously committed all extremes of evil for a multitude of religious convictions. Once in awhile I get downright philosophical about life, much like I do about football. Not that I worship football, even though I do pay homage to it with offerings of pay per views. During my 68 years of dodging assorted idiot mentalities, ring worm personalities, and one disaster after another, I have learned that my life has been directed and salvaged by two very simple, but, powerful words….Faith and Hope. They both have a lot in common and each has a potency all it’s own.

     Faith has been allocated to the spiritual and theological realm for thousands of years, but, for some, it’s all about family and special friends. My greatest faith has always been through Wifey, as I know she will always be there for me and I likewise for her. So many times, during the last thirty years, she has been there when I needed strength, guidance and a trash can to throw up in. Faith is very simple….you never have to turn around, cause you know someone’s always got your back and will never let you down. Ever! But, not to believe in faith, is to believe in nothing and that’s one hell of a black hole! But,most important, is you must have total faith in yourself! Never, ever let your own self down. It’s important to remember that having faith in your family, and most of all yourself, must be absolute, never requiring proof or explanation….ever!

     Hope is the first cousin of faith and they are both nephews of destiny. Hope can be more delicate than faith because for many, hope is all they have. Hope can often be as fragile as a young girl’s dreams and the last thing a person does before admitting defeat. It must be remembered that hope is a direction of both conscience and determination.

     Every conflict of man, whether on the field of battle, of the body, or of the spirit, is supported by both faith and hope. Fact is, everything attempted and completed in life is based on these two concepts. To live without either, is to cease living. So, what I’m saying to you comes from a man who has seen heartache, known the infirmities of his own body, plus the torments of his spirit. When all seemed lost….faith held up one side of my dwindling spirit while hope held up the other, and together they helped me to face my anguish. In the end, I became stronger, wiser, and more loving to those who needed me. How you interpret faith and hope is solely up to you, but remember….together, they are butt-kicking awesome!

Charlie