I suppose it was a couple years ago that I first learned what hashing was. My first assumption was that it had something to do with the cannabis plant. Although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the intoxicating resin from the plant co-exists in the hashing community, members of the Hash House Harriers (a.k.a. “hashers”) describe themselves as “drinkers with a running problem.”
The running part of the activity always kinda turned me off from it. I’ve never seen myself as a runner. And, honestly, I’m a pretty cheap drunk, too. So, I worried that joining a group of people focused on running and drinking wasn’t going to be for me.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine, who’s a hasher, told me that some people walk and some people just drink water, I started to entertain the idea a bit more. The fact that the community also prides itself on its musical prowess, littered with incessant sexual innuendos, convinced me to at least try it out once.
So, last week, for the first time in my life, I went on a hash. The Jolly Roger Hash House Harriers welcomed me as a virgin with open arms. I learned that a hare goes out before the hash and “sets trail”, which is a series of trail markings that the group follows to find the primary destination: a beer stop. Once everyone’s thirst has been quenched, the markings lead to the finish line, where of course, there will be more imbibing.
It was overwhelming at first. I had no idea what all the chalk markings meant, despite them being explained before we started out. There was mention of “plops” and “whichy ways” and “boob checks” and then, with a flashlight in hand, the hash started.
A few people ran off quickly, looking for the first trail markings. I walked behind them, still unsure what I was looking for. My main goal was to make sure I knew where at least one other hasher was at all times. I figured I wasn’t officially lost if I was in eyesight of someone else.
People yelled “on on!” when they were confident they had found the trail the hare laid out for us. The question “are you?” would be asked if they weren’t on the trail and wanted to know if others were. Whistles were blown when a hasher found the trail, a high-pitched beacon from the darkness of twilight that helped orient me to the direction I needed to go.
I went there with an open mind and with the minimal expectation that my Fitbit would tally a few thousand steps. I left with so much more. I met a group of extremely welcoming people, who shared my love of The Lion King, as well as my witty and sometimes perverse sense of humor.
I finished my first hash to a round of applause. And while I lost my hashing virginity, I gained a really great memory. I’m already looking forward to the next trail!