Half-Mind Weblog

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You Can Too Go Home Again

I’ve been noticing something lately. I’m getting older. Oh, the hints are subtle . . . a ponderous belly, sagging buttocks, swollen ankles, knobby knees, varicose veins, trifocals, hemorrhoids, scabies, shingles, gray hair, missing hair, moles with hair, hairy nostrils and ears, liver spots, shrinking pudenda, quivering hands . . . but undeniably there if you have a sharp eye and know just what to look for. The cane, for one, is a dead giveaway.

Along with these unwelcome physical changes come changes in my attitude toward the hash, and at first I wasn’t sure if these changes were welcome or not. Like someone’ll interrupt the Circle to shout “Head? Who said Head? etc, etc.” It was hilarious the first time I heard it, and it stayed funny the next 6,347,993 times I heard it, but from the 6,347,994th time on, it quit being funny . . . and when it first quit being funny, I wondered if there was something wrong with me. You know what I’m talking about?

I still love hashing, but I’m less enamored of the things that have grafted themselves onto hashing over the years. When I first found the hash, I loved everything about it . . . the pre-trail antics, running through angry homeowners’ back yards and gardens, the beer checks, the Circle and Down-Downs, all those wonderful songs, the gallons of ice water dumped over you and the stinging blocks of ice to sit on, screaming “show us yer tits” to harriettes (who sometimes would!), invading pubs or bars afterward and chasing the civilians away, liberating trophies from visiting hashers, throwing up in other peoples’ shoes, socks, gym bags, and cars . . . oh, it was all so wonderful!

Well, as the old poem goes . . .

When I was a young man, I used to be so proud,
I had a cock so mighty, I wanted to shout out loud.
It never took a day off; it was always there,
And every morning when I shaved, it would stand and stare.
Now I’m old and weary, my pilot light’s gone out,
What used to be my sex appeal is now my water spout,
Oh, I’m gray and wrinkled, and it sure gives me the blues,
To see the thing hang down my leg to watch me shine my shoes.

. . . or, for you harriettes . . .

When I was a little girl, I had a little quim,
I’d stand before the looking-glass, and put one finger in.
But now that I am old and gray, and losing all my charm,
I can get five fingers in, and half my fuckin’ arm.

And now some things aren’t as much fun as they used to be. I get angry at hares who haven’t sense enough to pick a spot for the Circle that’s well away from civilians or cops. I want to stop and apologize when ex-pat hashers boorishly and selfishly insult the customs and values of their host nations. I feel bad when harriers scream “show us your tits” and some harriette feels pressured into doing it. Sure, many harriettes love showing off, but some don’t, and they don’t all have the strength to say fuck off. I turn around and find another way when the trail goes onto private property. I won’t sing hash songs in front of non-hashers, or in front of hashers who don’t like those songs . . . I’ve discovered that many hashes in other parts of the world are quite tame compared to hashes I grew up in, and I’ve learned to respect others’ wishes.

But as I mentioned earlier, I still love the hash. I’ve absorbed enough hash history to know that the songs, the ice, the Circle and Down-Downs, even “Head? Who said Head?” are all things that hashers have imported from other groups . . . private schools, rugby teams, fraternities, and so on. These rituals have been attached to hashing for so long now that younger hashers just assume they’ve always been there. In 1938, there were good mates, a trail, camaraderie, and a few beers afterward. And here I am in 2001, on the wrong side of 50 and then some, finally realizing that the very things that keep me coming back to the hash are . . . my good mates, the trail, the camaraderie, and the beer.

Last spring I finally did something about it. I started an invitational hash, one Monday evening each month, modeled on the Mother Hash . . . as near as I can get it to the Mother Hash in 1938, in fact. We have a trail and we have beer (in a bucket, as God and G intended it). We drink a toast to a new or departing member if we feel like it, but mainly we’re there to do the trail and see our friends. And people are knocking down our doors now, trying to get invited.

I’ve heard a lot of hashers comment that the hash is getting too intense for them lately . . . too many “traditions,” too many down-downs, too much pressure to do this or that. If you’re one of those hashers, try setting up a back-to-basics hash. It doesn’t have to be a separate, new group, like ours . . . you could try haring and hosting a “traditional” trail once in a while. I know you’ll love the experience, and I bet others will too. And not all of them will have gray hair!

- Flying Booger

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