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A sincere question about fall entertainment

Exactly what is the point of a hay ride? As I recall, hay rides generally take place at night, in poorly-lit areas, so scenery can’t be the goal. Sometimes hay rides might take you to some desirable destination like a bonfire or cookout, yet the hay ride itself is portrayed as an independently fun thing even when it is a practical mode of transportation. And of course there are plenty of hay rides where you just drive around in a circle. Why is this such a widespread practice? What is so great about sitting in a trailer full of hay on a brisk fall night?

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October 24, 2009 - Posted by | boredom

15 Comments

  1. I think the idea is that you go on the hayride with your sweetie, and the bumpiness of the ride gives you an “out” when you are “inadvertently” jostled in such a way that part of your body comes into illicit contact with part of your sweetie’s body.

    Or perhaps it’s simply meant to be an in-itself purposeless activity which provides an excuse for some time apart from other concerns (once again with your sweetie).

    Comment by ben | October 24, 2009

  2. I remember from my youth an abundance of “haunted” hayrides, wherein the trailer of hay was pulled past various scary thingamajigs (i.e., ghosts and shit). This suggests that at least in my area, there was a growing recognition that the opportunity to sit in hay may not be a sufficient inducement to come out in its own right.

    I think those in the preteen-teen set who “have game” at that age are supposed to like hayrides because they provide a snuggling opportunity.

    I feel like the bulk of my hayrides were taken at a time when I had relatively autonomy in how I spent my leisure time; it was more like, “Such-and-such org. is putting on a hayride–maybe you should go.” And so I went.

    Fall sucks. Fuck the seasons.

    Comment by transportinburma | October 24, 2009

  3. Teenage courtship ritual is the only good reason to go on a hayride.

    Comment by Hill | October 24, 2009

  4. I agree that it is a way to indiscreetly brush your teenage girlfriend’s breast, reminds of Billy Madison.

    But, in general hay rides remind of family time, or in my case a transportation to Hell House. I think viewing the orgy of abortion, domestic violence, homosexuals with AIDS, drug abuse, and suicide was enough to leave me with a bitter taste in my mouth with regards to hay rides. Gotta love evangelicalism.

    I should probably sue someone for that, I was only 12 or 13.

    Comment by Jeremy | October 24, 2009

  5. I asked about this during/after I went on a hayride at a halloween party in undergrad. I was told I was supposed to “enjoy the country air”.

    It didn’t take a genius to notice that the real reason was snuggling under a blanket in the twilight with your sweetie. I was sweetie-poor at the time, which is presumably why I was fed the “country air” line.

    To be fair, it was kinda pleasant to be out in the middle of nowhere in the twilight. Nice and quiet, apart from the cart bumping along. Nice view of the stars. Not too cold, since the hay was a good insulator. I probably wouldn’t do it again without a sweetie to snuggle, though.

    Comment by Daniel Lindquist | October 24, 2009

  6. I’m starting to see that my lack of a sweetie in hayride contexts has had a decisive effect.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | October 24, 2009

  7. It’s definitely all about the sweetie. I would add that this goes double for sleigh rides.

    Comment by Chaf | October 24, 2009

  8. Now ask us about the point of drive-in movies.

    Comment by ed bowlinger | October 24, 2009

  9. The only hayride I’ve ever taken–to the best of my memory–took me from a parking lot to an orchard and back. The purpose appeared to be pragmatic: carrying a bushel or two of apples a kilometer and a half can be a pain in the ass. The gas fumes coming from the tractor pulling the hay-thing makes it impossible that the intention was romantic. Likewise all the dipshits with their cameras taking pictures of fuck knows what.

    Comment by Craig | October 24, 2009

  10. The consistent use of the word “sweetie” really gets on my nerves.

    Comment by Anthony Paul Smith | October 24, 2009

  11. I was very pleased that everyone took my cue.

    Comment by ben | October 24, 2009

  12. I remember being on hayrides where one cart was the designated “hayfight” wagon, and the other one was an anti-fighting pro-sweetie snuggling wagon. I always chose the calmer wagon (even sans sweetie) because hay fights are miserable.

    Comment by Chad | October 24, 2009

  13. Chad! nice to see you, how’s your baby?
    all those rides are with real hay? i had an experience to prepare hay for two yrs with my father using real scythes, when was 16-17, great times, my legs got so nicely tanned cz was wearing the shorts, the piece of land was in the mountains, so it was pretty steep, had to walk from the mountain down to the forest, nice wind smelling the wild strawberries from the forest, never rode any haycarts though, no sweeties at that time either, was very disappointed with the smell which was different from what i imagined, too bitter
    the smell was okay, i thought hay should look yellow, but it was green and if prepared wrongly and it gets wet after the rain, it could become even dark looking and then no use

    Comment by read | October 24, 2009

  14. Hayrides serve the same purpose as horse-drawn carriages, and other such “outmoded” forms of transportation: nostalgia only (even though those were not simpler times, as we like to idealize).

    Comment by Toby P | October 26, 2009

  15. It’s a version of the Puritan “bundling” thing.

    Puritanism scientists tell me that the Puritans weren’t very Puritanical. XIX c. authors, notably Hawthorne, were projecting Victorianism backward. The “purity” and seriousness of the XIX c. middle class in the developed world deserves a lot of the blame for things like Hitler, sexual repression and the like which are normally blamed more broadly on capitalism, nationalism, Christianity, etc.

    Comment by John Emerson | October 29, 2009


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