I don’t have any particular desire to see the Ghostbusters movie which just opened, but the trailers and reviews that I’ve been seeing bring back memories of the first Ghostbusters movie, released in 1984. My husband and I did see that movie.
We’ve always liked movies—our first date was to a movie, though I can’t remember now what it was (I think he remembers). We spent many a weekend evening at the movies, both before and after we were married.
Right after we were married, when we were still in law school, we often arrived at the last minute and found that the theater was sold out. Mind you, it was my husband’s doing that we were late. To this day, he hates to get to the theater before show time.
Back in law school, when we couldn’t get into the show we wanted, we converted our date evening to a trip to the grocery store. Not very romantic, but, hey, we needed food.
I recall a time or two in Kansas City when we ended up at the grocery store instead of the movie also. It hasn’t happened in years, because I keep the pantry better stocked. Now we just go back home, disappointed.
Once our son was born, our movie nights dwindled. Getting a babysitter on a weekend evening was too much trouble. We didn’t have a VCR yet, though occasionally we rented both VCR and movie.
But then a friend with small kids suggested we try drive-ins. “The kids sleep right through it,” she told me. “Just take them in their pajamas. It’s great.”
The drive-in movies started later than we wanted, but we could put our baby in the back of our station wagon. Or just leave him in his car seat. He could sleep anywhere.
We never worried about the movie’s rating. We went to any movie we wanted to see—sex, violence, it didn’t matter, our son slept right through it. When we got home, my husband carried him up to bed, and he didn’t even budge.
During the summer of 1984, our son was two years old—almost two-and-a-half. Ghostbusters was a blockbuster movie that year. It wasn’t really the type of flick I like, but it was a big drive-in hit. I figured I could tolerate a funny action movie. It was rated PG, so I didn’t think there’d be too much gore.
So Ghostbusters was the first drive-in movie we went to in 1984. Just like we had the two years before, we bundled up our son and his lovey (which he called “Boppy”) and headed across town to the drive-in. We parked, set up the speaker, and settled in for an amusing movie.
“Go to sleep,” we told him. “Boppy’s right here. Just lie down and go to sleep.”
He sat up watching the previews.
“Lie down,” we said, when the main attraction came on. “Go to sleep.”
He sat transfixed.
I worried about the sexual banter, but figured he wouldn’t understand the PG repartee. No big deal.
The green blobby guys showed up. The gargoyles burst into real monsters. The terror dogs roamed wild. Women were possessed.
Our son watched it all. Bug-eyed, he watched it all.
I thought he’d be scared, but he didn’t seem to be. Just star-struck. I could tell the Ghostbusters were going to supplant Superman and Batman as his heroes of choice.
Finally the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man climbed the building, and the good guys blasted away. Marshmallow bits rained down, and civilization was saved.
Our son was still awake at the end. None of our entreaties to go to sleep during the two-hour movie had had any influence.
And that was the last drive-in movie we went to until our children were pre-teens. We bought a VCR the next year.
For years, our son roamed the neighborhood with his pals, all chanting the mantra, “Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!”
What parenting mistakes have you made?