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No Hash is an Island

At On-Afters a few weeks ago, a harriette asked me if I’d co-hare with her on an upcoming hash. “Sure,” I said, but something about the way she asked told me she wasn’t happy about it, so I went on to ask her why she wanted me to co-hare.

“Because the GM told me it’s hash policy that an inexperienced hare has to have an experienced co-hare,” she answered.

“But you are an experienced hare, aren’t you?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she said, “in Saipan I hared all the time, but this’ll be my first time here.”

“That’s bullshit,” I said, “if you’re experienced, you’re experienced.”

“Apparently not . . . the GM told me I have to lay trail _________ style, not Saipan style, and that’s why I have to have a co-hare.”

So what happened to laying trail hash style? I get a righteous beak when I hear small-minded shit like this, and try to fight it whenever I encounter it. Hashers are people, and like any group of people who do the same thing week after week, we gradually fall into the rut of always doing it the same way, but as hashers, I think we should try to keep our minds open to new experiences. Isn’t that what drew us to hashing in the first place?Many hashes (especially in the USA) pride themselves on live-hare runs. What if a visiting hasher from Kuala Lumpur offered to lay a trail for your hash, Mother Hash style? Would you say no thanks? My hash might . . . after all, it would be a dead hare trail, we’d have to follow paper rather than flour, and we’d miss our checks, bad trails, checkbacks, and two-hour-long Down-Downs. But we’d also miss experiencing how other hash groups do things, and I think that’s (to borrow a word from Stray Dog) unhashlike.

Sure, hashers get set in their ways. We’ve all known hashers who moved to another city or country where there was a hash, but when we look them up in their new location years later, they tell us they don’t hash anymore because the new hash “just isn’t like our old hash.” Which makes you wonder if they were really hashers in the first place. And, more to the point of this rant, we’ve all encountered GMs and RAs who resist the introduction of new ideas to their hash . . . they like it just the way it is, thank you.

Well, that’s okay . . . up to a point. When you get to the point where you tell an experienced hare she can’t hare for your hash unless she does everything your way, I think you’re cheating yourself and the other hashers in your group.

I’m not saying hash groups shouldn’t protect their own traditions. Of course they should . . . that’s what makes them special, and in some cases unique. I’m just saying that hashers should try to stay open to new experiences. In the early days of hashing, the few kennels in existance were pretty much the same: men only, dead hare trails, no checks, no circle. Somewhere along the way individual hashers introduced live haring, checks and bad trails, organized circles with down-down ceremonies, even (God forgive them!) women. These hashers were open to new experiences. Today there are almost as many ways to organize a hash as there are hash groups.

Every now and then I hear from hashers who’ve just discovered that hashing is a worldwide phenomenon. They’re amazed and delighted . . . they actually thought their own hash was the only one, or that hashing existed only in their own state, country, or region. I remember an experienced hasher, a harriette who’d attended several events around the USA, actually writing the hash e-mail list to ask if there were any hashes in Thailand. Damn, that’s sad, isn’t it?

Hashers who travel, and who make the effort to hash with other groups while they’re on the road, are constantly exposed to new ideas and experiences. That’s why they’re such pains in the ass, enthusiastically telling anyone who’ll listen how it’s done in Hong Kong, San Diego, London, or Jakarta. Put up with them . . . they might just bring back a really neat idea some day, an idea that will get your group excited again and maybe even attract new members . . . and as I asked earlier, aren’t new experiences what attracted us to hashing in the first place?

- Flying Booger

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