Steamy Windows

Who remembers when they saw or heard their first phone pager? My first question was who needed one and why?. When a pager started beeping or buzzing in a crowd, everyone assumed it must belong to a doctor or some other critical profession where being able to contact that person was a matter of life or death. Otherwise, why would anyone want to be tethered with such a short rope?

It’s interesting how attitudes change and how quickly the public can embrace new technology. In today’s world, being “connected” is considered an absolute necessity. And if you fail to answer your phone or respond to a text within three minutes people accuse you of intentionally ignoring them. Standard excuses for not responding immediately include;

  • My phone was on the charger
  • I was on the pot
  • Wheel of Fortune was on

What’s your favorite “go to” excuse?

If you’re new to Friday Flash Fiction, the Gorilla Glue who holds this band of misfits together is Koko No-Go Wisoff-Fields. If you’d like to participate in this exercise of madness, head over to her blog for step-by-step instructions. To view the ensemble of practicing fic-titioners in the writers in FFF Hollywood Squares Authors Block click here.

copyright – Ted Strutz

“There used to be a drive-in theater right here.” Mr. Carroll made a sweeping motion with his right hand.

“The concession stand and projector room was there.” He pointed to a pile of rubble. “And the screen stood at the far end of that thicket.”

“Wow,” whispered his grandson. “People watched movies outdoors?”

“Yeah, but most of the action took place inside the cars.”

“You mean like virtual reality?”

“No.” Mr. Carroll chuckled. “See that old car? That’s where Speedway Randy was conceived. I still remember what was showing that night.”

“What was it Grandpa?”

“Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”


49 Comments on “Steamy Windows

  1. Yep… once upon a time it was a rarity to hear a pager or phone. Now? What? You don’t have a cell phone? How and why is that possible? (I say this because I have ONE friend who is not tethered… I’m in awe and at the same time could not imagine giving mine up…) Best excuse? Lemme see… ah yes, forgot to turn on my volume this morning…

    And, I used to work in a drive-in theatre… Lemme tell you, there were some shenanigans going on in them thar cars… The ushers – all guys – were the only ones allowed to work over time by cleaning up the field the next day. Lemme tell you, the stuff they picked up…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a good thing you didn’t have a cellphone back in the Drive-In days, you would have probably gotten in trouble filming some of those shenanigans.

      Did your drive-in run those same 30-year-old ads for the concession stand that ran down here? They looked like they had been filmed before technicolor was invented, even the hamburgers were green (which was actually pretty close to accurate).

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t even want to think of what could have been filmed!

        Nope. No ads, no swing sets at the front either. Though our hotdogs and hamburgers had….”spices” as my boss would say. When he wasn’t around, I dumped them… He wanted us to sell them after having heated them 2-3 times… Blech!


  2. First, an answer to your question of excuses… mine is valid, BTW… “I didn’t hear it”. Hubby put on the theme from StarTrek for my ringer, but even at max volume, I seldom actually hear it unless it’s right on my shoulder. Next… Love your story! I have fond mems of the drive-in… first movie I remember seeing was “Puff the Magic Dragon” (I was 4). Scariest movie… “The Birds” (the old b/w version). Scared the bejeebers out of me for years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m right there with you, Jelli. My wife usually has to tell me if I’m getting a call or text, unless I have my Bluetooth hearing aids in. In which case it rings loud enough in my head that it causes me to jump.

      I remember seeing “The Birds” on TV as a child. I hid behind my father’s easy chair and would only peek at the screen occasionally. I still have a hard time watching it. One of my favorites I remember from the drive-in was Woody Allen’s “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask.” What a hilarious movie!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Never saw that movie, or even heard of it… lol! “Birds” is such a classic horror, and could be so very real… Having been caught in migrating swarms of sparrows, I know that for certain.


  3. Dear Paul Marcarelli Gayer,

    Can you hear me now? I’ll confess to being as attached as anyone. My favorite and most used app is Scrabble. Perhaps you could record more of Liza Jane’s arias. Wouldn’t that make a great ringtone?

    So Speedway Randy’s was a passion pit baby? Who knew? Ah the drive ins. How many movies did we go to not see in those days? Not to mention you could get a whole family in for the price of two as long as the kids were under 12. My brother was 12 for at least three years after his birthday. 😉 Those were the days, my friend.


    Koko No-Go W(T)F

    PS I found an extra b in the rubbble. Feel free to add it to your ruble. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • My personal grammar Nazi pointed out that I wrote drive in’s instead of drive ins. Could you pull me arse out of the ruble and correct it? Thank you, Paul. Thank you, Dale. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Koko No-Go W(T)F,

      We expect Liza Jane to be offered a recording contract any day now. But before she turns professional she says she’d like to win The Voice or American Idol first.

      You failed to tell us how many years YOU got in free due to the 12 or under rule. I’m guessing at least 25 or 30 (or perhaps you still do). You and Jan should come down this summer and we’ll all go to the 112 Drive In. I’ll pop some popcorn and you can bring the vino.

      See you at the movies,
      Paul Marcarelli

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s great. Shades of Titanic (and Rick & Morty). There actually was a Speedway Randy who wandered up and down Speedway Boulevard in Tucson, a homeless guy who wore a red bandana and a soiled 101st Airborne jacket. I bought him a malt liquor once and we sat while he shared bits of hobo wisdom such as the fact Sizzler throws out all the foil-wrapped baked potatoes at the end of the night and that when people gas up their cars there’s always enough fuel left in the hose to “soak your rag real good.” It made me grateful to not be homeless, but I had to think about future dark days where this vagabond’s wisdom might be useful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. One of my goals this year is to work as many fictioneers into these stories as possible. Thanks for playing along and starring in this episode.

      Interesting (and sad) story on Speedway Randy. We can learn a lot from the homeless if we only take the time to listen.


    • I was watching an old TV show the other day where the actors were using some of the first cordless phones. The phone were about the size of a shoebox and had long antennas. We’ve come a long way, baby.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember people having pagers for no reason other than wanting to look important. I’m still a Luddite with a landline (which I rarely answer until I see who is calling). 😀
    Grandpa’s fond memories-priceless!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We still have a landline too, though I’ve been trying to get Connie to drop it for the past couple of years. Based on the number of times it gets used in a month, the calls are costing us about $1 each.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I just leave my phone on silent mode and only call or text back those I want to. As for drive-ins, over here they’re making a comeback as Christmas occasions showing seasonal films in December.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Much of the time when I’m a home, my phone is on the dresser. People can leave a message if they want. Most of the calls are from telemarketers anyway.

      According to wikipedia (data from 2017) there are about 330 drive-ins in America today, down from a peak of around 4,000 in the late 1950s. We are fortunate to have one nearby, although I haven’t attended a movie there since my kids were in their early teens. Still, I hope it remains open so the next generations can enjoy the drive-in “experience.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Most drive-in attendees were teenagers who could care less about the movie. All they wanted to do was make-out with the girlfriend. Sometimes it escalated a little beyond just kissing, 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. There was a study done in recent times that showed TV and the internet were responsible for dramatically falling birth rates around the world. Perhaps in some parts of the world they need to bring back drive-in theater that only show bad movies.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Days of open movie theatres. Very little movie used to be seen. A lot of other activities were far more important and interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So that was how Speedway Randy was born? Who knew? And I love the Invasion of the Body Snatchers reference – very apt for pregnancy! What’s my excuse? I never give one – I just apologise for my late reply and carry on the conversation. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Our drive-ins would have marathons where they would show 4 movies in a row. I don’t know how many people stayed until the last movie was over, but I doubt many of those who did were still awake.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always liked the idea of a drive in cinema – I’m not sure we ever had any here. Don’t have the weather for it. There’s something romantic about the thought, but perhaps that’s a hangover from watching that scene in Grease with Travolta singing ‘Sandy’ 🙂


  10. I have memories of going to the drive-in as a kid, with my parents and younger brother – playing in the playground, take-away something or other from the snack bar for dinner. I think I missed out on the steamy windows of your story. Great title by the way, and a fun story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember the playground too. I went with a bunch of kids to a birthday party at the drive-in once. A couple of the boys climbed the ladder behind the screen. It was a long way to the top, so I stayed on the ground. As soon as I got a car, I started taking my dates to the drive-in, but we didn’t watch a lot of the movie. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The Wheel of Fortune excuse wouldn’t work for places where it’s not broadcasted. 😉
    Love the grandson’s interpretation of “action inside cars” as virtual reality! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My excuse is like so many others, the volume was off (which it is). My husband refuses to own a phone and blames me for not hearing the phone when someone calls looking for him. Loved the drive-in as a kid with my family packed in our wood-panel station wagon. Didn’t go much as a teen. An entertaining story as always! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • My hearing is extremely poor, so I miss a lot of calls. If they really want to talk to me they’ll leave a message.

      The drive-in was a lot of fun as a kid and as a teenager. I always had a great time there.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I think my favorite real excuse is that I had to go a place without coverage… (I spend all my vacation in such blind spots)…

    In Sweden we never had drive in theaters, it doesn’t make sense since in summer when it’s warm enough there is too much daylight for movies… but I have seen this weird thing in movies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We still have a few blind spots too. We call them “dead zones.”

      I feel sad that you didn’t have the drive-in experience, but I bet you found a place to get educated on the birds & bees.


  14. Favorite excuse: I turned if off. I may never turn it back on. We have a landline. Use it. Of course, we do have caller ID. . . . and a really cool little program called I guess I’m just not phone-friendly.

    As to drive-in theaters, my dad made it excruciatingly clear that my date would NOT be taking me to one of those hotbeds of iniquity. “I know what goes on there, Linda. It won’t be going on with you. Do you want me to tell your date?” “No, Dad, I’ll tell him. I WILL TOO!”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Good one! I really enjoyed your story, Russell, it really took me back. I’ll bet some of our fellow writers may have no idea what you are talking about or have never experienced the joy of going to a drive-in movie. In Sacramento we had quite a few and I think there still is one in operation. My favorite was The Starlite Drive-in.


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