One of the great autumn events to be in on is the hayride-you know, get a hayrack, throw a few bales of hay on it, get your friends together, and find yourself a nice stretch of country road where you won't be in the way of traffic (and the traffic won't be in the way of you). Add a cool, crisp, clear night-and possibly some liquids to offset cool, crisp, and clear-and you have a recipe for a great evening!
In about a week, various organizations will start doing haunted hayrides, where the passengers are driven through a dark field or patch of woods and various ghosts, ghouls, maniacs, and zombies will endeavor to scare the crap out of them-or drive that girl into her date's arms, because that's one of the reasons for couples of any age to go out in that thar haunted woodlot-where people go in....but they don't come out! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Great fun.
Some places offer a more family-friendly ride, where the main attraction is simply to go out for that rustic, 'country' experience, take the kids to see some farm animals, and maybe pick up some apples, honey, and a pumpkin to carve up into a jack-o'-lantern. Those are enjoyable as well, if a bit tame.
The hayrides I've been on leaned a bit toward debauchery, such as in the Great Ride of '89.
A coworker of mine at the time lived on a farm out in the deepest reaches of Lee County, Illinois. His folks farmed nearby, so he had access to a hay wagon, no close-by neighbors, and plenty of space. I remember that it was a perfect night to be out. We loaded the guest of honor on the wagon-the keg-and then we found places among the bales and under blankets as we took off. I'd like to tell you great detail about the things we saw and about how beautiful the evening was. Truth be told, a good portion of the night was a blur. I remember belting out 'You Shook Me All Night Long', possibly better than Brian Johnson ever did in all his years with the boys from Down Under. (And, really, who DOESN'T have Back In Black in their collection of albums to party to?) We stopped at one of the two bars in the nearest town, Sublette. I believe someone was buying shots of tequila. Now, tequila is a fine fluid. You can use it to thin paint, or remove grease stains, or run a lawnmower. If it were drinkable, it would be perfect. What to do if someone's buying the shots, though? You have to drink up and pretend to like it. Several times. Fair enough. I'd consumed most of a bottle of cinnamon schnapps and apple cider before we left.
Somewhere along the way, my buddy Dave lost his glasses at one of the pee stops we made on the way back to Chuck's digs. As far as I know, those glasses are still there, lying along a gravel road or fencerow somewher between Sublette and Amboy.
Of course, men are lucky when it comes to stopping along the road to take a leak-just stand there and let fly. The ladies were forced to find cover and squat. Calls for some measure of markswomanship not to pee all over clothes and such.
By and by we got back to Chuck's. All that beer, schnapps, and tequila didn't mix well-never mix your alcohols, kids-and I think I vomited in Chuck's yard. He and his wife, Kelli, were kind enough to pour me onto a foldaway bed in the living room.
The next day, those of us that stayed all night went to a pancake breakfast at a church. I'm sure we made a good impression-hay in our clothes and hair, breath like jet fuel fumes, and headaches in the kiloton range. But the people there took our money, and we chowed down pancakes, homemade sausage, and coffee. Lots of coffee.
That's about what I remember from that hayride. We did Hayride 2: Electric Boogaloo the next year, but somehow it wasn't quite as much fun. I do remember our guy TC and one of the young ladies from the office ended up in the hayloft. Well, what happens in the hayloft stays in the hayloft. TC was in the Navy at the time. A good guy he was, but no genius, and I wouldn't have let him run a toy boat in a bathtub. The Navy made him a member of the Presidential Honor Guard, so at least he cut a fine figure in dress whites, and he couldn't hurt himself or anybody else in the middle of Washington, DC.
So when October rolls around, I think back to the simpler times back then and smile. I'm told I had a good time, so I'll take everyone's word for it.
I'll end this post with-well, you know the song we HAVE to end with!