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Virgins

Settle down, hashers . . . it’s not what you’re thinking.

A long time ago, when I first started publishing lists of HHH contacts, I heard of a non-drinking kennel at some high school somewhere. And I listed it, because a hash is a hash, right? At the time, even though I drank, I didn’t see drinking as an essential part of hashing. It was just something most hashers did after the trail.

Over the course of the next several years, though, I woke up and realized drinking was pretty goddamn fundamental to hashing. At the hashes I ran with, drinking was hashing. And I realized I’d turned into more of a drinker than a hasher, as so many of us have.

About five years ago I started putting some distance between myself and the heavy-drinking aspects of hashing. I started a BYOB family hash and noticed right away that my own beer consumption went way down, as did that of other family hash members. Yeah, we brought six-packs to the hash, but it was rare if anyone drank more than two beers. This new moderation wasn’t just due to the BYOB policy, but also to the fact that we only set A-to-A trails. When you’re not stuck out in the desert, miles from your car after an A-to-B trail and with nothing better to do than help your friends float the keg, you just don’t drink as much.

These days I rarely go to the weekly adult hash, mainly because of all the drinking. I hash with two small BYOB A-to-A kennels — the family hash I founded five years ago and a bicycle hash some friends started more recently — lightweights in the boozing department.

Shortly after the bike hash started, I quit drinking altogether. At first I worried that as a non-drinker I might fall away from hashing, but it didn’t work out that way. I fell away from circles, not from hashing. Drunken circles are no longer fun, but good trails are more fun than ever. At the family and bicycle hashes, I get good trails and short circles, and I can get in my car and leave any time I want to.

I know I’m not alone: there have always been hashers who don’t drink, but today there are a lot of hashers like me — hashers who did drink but for health or other reasons have quit, plus a boatload of still-drinking hashers who want to quit or at least cut way back — hashers who would happily run with a less drunken crowd if they could find one. I would not be surprised to hear that drinking-in-moderation kennels like the ones I’ve described are beginning to appear in other places around the country. If you’re looking for a kennel like that and there isn’t one in your area, sound out some of the older hashers and see if there are enough of you to spin off a new kennel. If you do decide to start one, take it from me: BYOB and A-to-A is the way to go.

If you’re still with me (and not back at the keg, drinking and laughing at me), you may find this encouraging: there’s a brand-new hash kennel on the east side of Phoenix, the Virgin Hash House Harriers. And get this . . . it’s a non-drinking hash. Not less-drinking, non-drinking. And yes, I’ll put my money where my mouth is and drive up to hash with them.

Is it a movement? Not yet. But I predict it will be.

- Flying Booger

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