Briggs's Guide to Impeccable Drive-In Etiquette

By Joe Bob Briggs

Joe Bob photo There are some people in Massachusetts who don't understand why God created drive-ins. There are even some people in New York who don't understand what the word "drive-in" means. If you know any of these people — or any of the unfortunate people behind the Iron Curtain who are denied the right to attend movies in automobiles — I urge you to clip this article out and send it to them immediately. This is for the poor turkeys who don't have the advantages that you and me have. This is for the suckers who never got the chance to watch flicks in the outdoors the way they were meant to be seen.

  • Rule #1: Decide immediately whether you are interested in public or private entertainment. The beautiful thing about the drive-in is that the flick is public but your car is not. So if you have something more interesting going on in your car than on the screen, you should take advantage of the situation by purchasing certain options. One is the retractable steering wheel (to avoid hip injury). Another is the fold-back seat (to avoid the direct imprint of upholstory patterns on the skin). And a final, very important one, is various sundries and toiletry items to be deposited in the glove compartment (consult your pharmacist). If the screen is more interesting, and it usually is, all you need is one ice chest and anywhere from four to sixteen six-packs. (Löwenbräu specifically forbidden in Texas drive-ins, but permissible in wimp states like Vermont.)
  • Rule #2: No matter who or what you see at the drive-in, DO NOT bring lawn chairs. The worst you can do is take up space somebody could've used to park in. The best you can do is look like a jerk, sittin in a lawn chair with a speaker hooked on the back. This defeats the entire purpose — namely, to go out for an evening's entertainment while still enjoying all the comforts of your car.
  • Rule #3: When approaching another car, ALWAYS count the heads before opening the door. I think this one is fairly self-explanatory and falls under the heading of Class C misdemeanors.
  • Rule #4: Keep your lights off at all times. Not only does this muck up the picture for people who are trying to watch. It can be damned embarrassing.
  • Rule #5: Do not own a van. If you do own a van, do not bring it to the drive-in because it does not belong there. If you do bring it to the drive-in, please park it next to me so that I can shout loud remarks about your virility to the greasers in charge of keeping the hippies in line.
  • Rule #6: Never order Mexican food at a drive-in. This includes nachos.
  • Rule #7: When the sound goes bad or the picture goes blank, ride that horn like your life depends on it. There is nothing more terrifying than, oh, about 1000 car horns all blasting at once. The only place you can hear this on a regular basis is at the drive-in, the last place in America where the people can make more noise than the bureaucracy. Problems don't last long at the drive-in. This is why.
  • Rule #8: Never remove any article of clothing after the second feature. You think you're taking off your socks, but after three six-packs, you're actually taking off your pants.
  • Rule #9: Never say anything to the ticket booth operator like, "Hey, fatso, we're from Sigma Nu and we're ready to party." Ticket booth operators at drive-ins tend to weigh 240 pounds and carry weapons.
  • Rule #10: Never go alone to a drive-in. The ice chest can't hold that much beer.

The preceding is © 1987 by Joe Bob Briggs, America's finest drive-in movie critic. Used by permission. (Thanks again, Joe Bob!)

This guide is from the surprisingly out-of-print book Joe Bob Goes To The Drive-In, which is mostly a collection of his columns from the Dallas Times-Herald from 1984-85. In its pages you can learn what Joe Bob had against Löwenbräu and the Texas Alcoholic Control Board. You can also read his much more recent examinations of American culture in his column at Taki's Magazine. And you should visit his official site, where his alter-ego John Bloom is promoting his latest book, Eccentric Orbits, which happens to be really good. Check it out!