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We Get Mail . . .

The following emails were prompted by my recent (Not Really a) New Year’s Resolution post.  The first one comes from Higgins in Belgium, and I’ve included my response (in blue):


I like your post and wonder to what extent what you’re experiencing locally is representative of the entire hashing community. Getting close to 20 years on on 1369 trails and having visited about 250 kennels I’ve only seen about 5 fights in total, most fueled indeed by excessive consumption of alcohol – often spirit.

Myself a serious heavy-drinking party animal in my younger years (in and outside the hash) I’ve cut down seriously after some stupid bouts including one alcohol poisoning experience which could have been fatal. I also know personally other hashers in the same situation who saw the light in time. These days I focus on quality rather than quantity which makes the entire experience much more pleasant and nasty hangovers a souvenir of the past.

Of course we’re spoiled in Brussels thanks to the choice of beer in general and the great selection offered on a weekly basis on the hash. I’d rather have two specials than five pilsners myself. Also the Down Downs volume was reduced from the initial full pint to about a fifth years ago once the police decided to enforce DUI laws that hadn’t been their priority so far!

What I still don’t understand are so-called hashers who NEVER do trail and stay at the bar. My understanding of hashing is that trail comes first because you have to work out a thirst. That’s why we always have a runner/walker option on BMPH3 so nobody can use the excuse that the pack is too fast ;-)

Ooops, am I in danger of growing up?

Hashy 2011, with or without beer!

On Out


Dear Higgins,

I was in a bad mood when I wrote that entry, and things are probably not as bad as I made them sound.  It is true that I no longer enjoy going to jHavelina H3 events here in Tucson, and it is true that it’s a pretty alcohol-centric hash.  Not nearly as bad as some others, because at least they don’t hit the beer before trail, but the circles go on forever, and yes, there have been some fights and even some people kicked out of the hash.  I don’t like the drama, and I don’t like not having anyone to talk to at the circle or on-afters, because those who stay generally get too drunk to have normal conversations with.

Does this reflect the current state of American hashing?  Probably not.  But I do sense that a lot of older hashers, here in the States and everywhere else, are drinking less and looking for hashes where there are more people like them.  I’ve been beating that drum for a while now.

On On,

The following email came from an American hasher who wishes to remain anonymous.  Once again, I’ve included my response, and one further email from the anonymous hasher:

Hi FB,

Here’s the deal: I’m tired of the excessive drinking. I don’t like to drink to excess myself no matter my location. I’m not quite where you are in terms of the drink-centric hashes due to my willingness to drink some, especially at away hashes, but the more I hash and the more I see, the less inclined I am to participate. Here’s my problem: this has been the case for other good hashers, and I still want to be able to see them.

I was converted at what was supposed to be a fantastic gathering.  There was a surprise boat cruise. Unfortunately, there was a non-related drinking event prior to the hash, and then those stupid drunks came and drank MORE. My dear friend from out of town had come in just for this event, and the two of us just wanted off the boat as quickly as possible. There were many fights. One guy broke his (ex-)girlfriend’s nose, and she had to get a restraining order against him. Lots of other fights over old bad blood. So much alcohol-fueled rage. I was livid.

I’m totally with you at this point on most things. (I’m not with you on you Don’t over-advertise the hash, and especially don’t do stupid things that will get you in trouble WHILE AT THE HASH. There was talk of banning the dude who beat his girlfriend, and I’m all for at least an extremely stern warning, because that guy puts ME in danger when he does that shit. Nothing short of that will have me questioning his presence at the hash, though I wouldn’t really want to associate with known scumbags.

Back to the problem: I want to do something to make my hash a better place, and I want people not to have to second guess coming to the hash because it might get too rowdy. Starting another hash is right out for me, though I realize it’s a valid solution. I know that it’s been done before in _________, but I would consider it a subversive move in the wake of all that has transpired so recently. I want to be able to make positive change from within. I know all the advice for this sort of thing: actions, don’t proselytize, set a good example. I had a vision of G late one night, and he gave me some advice, so I’m going to do something awesome where I set a trail for each bullet of the original hash charter over the next year. But do you have any hash specific ideas? The obvious ones are more trail and less (and finite) beer. Short circle (going to put my name into the hat for RA next year, I think it might be worth doing to steer people in the direction of shorter, more focused circles). What else can I do? I know that I can talk to people who would be receptive to this general vision, but I don’t want it to look like a power grab or something (even if that’s essentially what it is, it’s not my intent).

Thanks and On On!
Anonymous Hasher


Dear ________,

I was a pretty heavy drinker, but I always did trail.  I started having doubts when people began turning up at hashes with no intention of doing trail, but merely to drink.  I guess my natural instinct was to drink less when those types were around, mainly because I didn’t want to get friendly with them.  That progressed to not much liking really long circles and the float-the-keg mentality that somehow migrated from college fraternities to the hash.  I finally quit drinking for reasons of my own, and now of course I don’t much like circles at all.  But almost all hashers do like circles, and since I’m not prepared to give up hashing I put up with them.  Even in the small hashes I started here in Tucson, hashes where people could enjoy trail without having to endure the excesses of the regular Tucson hash, I still do circles.  But they’re short.Some things I find that work (some may work within the context of the hash you already belong to, and some may not, but I understand your wish not to alienate people by starting a new hash from scratch):

  • A-to-A trails.  When the end is at or very near the start, the cars are handy.  You can have a circle, then get people moving to on-afters.  If you end at a B that’s beyond walking distance from the start, the hares can only take a few people at a time back to the start, and other hashers have to wait at the circle until the people the hares took back return with more cars to take everyone back.  Naturally, the people who have to wait at the B don’t have anything else to do but drink.
  • Organized circles.  Because if you have a plan for the down-downs you’re going to award, you can stay on schedule and keep the circle fairly short.  Unless there’s a naming.  Then you’re screwed.
  • Not doing guerrilla down-downs.  These almost always get out of hand, and the drunker people get the more guerrilla down-downs they want to award.
  • Hashing in the morning.  When combined with an A-to-A trail and a pre-announced on-after location for lunch, this works great.  People have one or two beers, and then they’re ready to go to on-afters and get some grub.  Might not be an option if your local hash has always met in the afternoon.
  • BYOB hashes.  This really only works with A-to-A trails, because hashers couldn’t get to their beer otherwise.  But it may be an impossible sell in a hash where everyone is used to having a biermeister.

I’ve really come to love the two morning hashes I go to here in Tucson, the one I founded and the bike hash some friends founded.  Both do A-to-A, both are BYOB, both meet in the morning.  There aren’t a lot of older hashers here (that still show up at the hash, anyway), but the hashers who come to the morning hashes tend to be a bit older, and everyone is there for the trail and the socializing afterward, not for rowdy and long circles with a lot of drinking.

It’s probably best not to tell anyone you’re trying to change things in order to cut down on the drinking and the bad behavior that comes with drinking.  You know how people are.  Just do it, and if anyone asks, tell them you wanted to try something different without telling them why.

Worst comes to worst, and your hash refuses to change, you can do what Magic User in Long Beach always does.  He finishes trail and then immediately runs all the way back from the B to the A to get his car.  But that would kind of suck.

Please let me know what you decide to do, and let me know if it works for you.  I think there are more and more people like us in the hash, and I’m mainly writing about these issues to let them know they’re not alone, and that a few other hashers at least are trying to keep hashing while drinking less, or not at all.

On-On in solidarity, brother hasher!
Flying Booger


Hi FB,

This is all excellent advice, including a lot of things I have not thought about. I spoke to a wise hasher who got a DUI a while back and has been open about changing his ways since then, and he said that these sorts of things move in cycles. He mentioned that paid membership dropped in half after one raucous year a couple decades ago, and things have long since picked back up. I guess my concern is that a lot of people who have said to me that their recent lack of attendance is due to the horseplay are young and people with whom I have become friends with beyond the hash. It’s sad to see fairly new hashers say that they’re not as interested in coming anymore as a result of these kinds of incidents.

I like all of your suggestions. I think A-A is much more typical here than it is where you are. I’d say it represents at least 70% of trails. I think I remember a post once where you hared and the beer went out…and that was it. Our turnout can be dramatically different, but I’m going to plan for the aggregate and not buy too much beer. I can always “discover” more beer if the turnout is double what I expected. BYOB is usually done at bars, so consumption is only limited to the depth of one’s pockets.

Is it worth talking to the RA about the circle at my hashes? I don’t know how our current RA will feel about these suggestions (not intimating bias, just absolutely not sure about how she’ll react). I feel like saying, “hey, can we make the circle short?” before the hash begins will get me called up a second time right at the start. I feel like this is something I have to do on my own.

On On!
Anonymous Hasher

© 2011, Flying Booger. All rights reserved.

About Flying Booger  Hash House Harrier, man about town.


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