“WILL YOU MARRY ME?” said the words on the screen. There were names attached to the request, and I heard a scream behind me — and sure enough, the happy couple was in the next car back. She said “yes,” he slipped her a ring, and cars all around them honked and flashed their lights.
Welcome to Saturday night at The Bengies, a drive-in movie theater a little bit northeast of Baltimore. It is one of the last — and one of the best — of its breed, right down to the old-school (and cheap, by movie standards) snack bar and the cheesy advertisements for PiC between the films.
My wife and I went there Saturday for the first time in four years or so, enjoying Disney’s “Earth” documentary and Pixar’s “Up!” There was the aforementioned entertainment between the movies, too. We brought a folding table and chairs and a boom box, liberating us from our car and allowing us to still hear the audio (modern drive-ins use FM radio broadcasting for sound, not the old speakers-inside-the-car).
The Bengies is operated with more rules than a Catholic school — you get a four-page pamphlet of stern warnings when you enter the theater, and those rules are enforced with ruthless efficiency — but that also leads to a family-friendly, good-natured atmosphere. It’s more than just a nostalgia trip for those of us old enough to warmly remember drive-ins from our youth. It’s a genuine good time.