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When Ritual Becomes Rule

You’d think hashing, with all the surprise and trickery that go into setting trail, would be a hotbed of anarchy, the last place you’d encounter hide-bound rigidity. After all, Rule # 1 of hashing is . . . No Rules! But hashers are people, and people like what they’re used to. And when it comes to the circle after the trail, hashers really, really like what they’re used to.

I’m on this rag because our local hash circles have become almost formal in their dedication to ritual. I remember trails, because, thank G, they’re all different. But I can no longer remember much about the circles afterward, because they’re all the same.

How all the same? Well, the GM always follows the same order for down-downs: trail trial, virgins, visitors, returners, awards (which in turn always follow the same order: hash stud, hash shit, hash bitch, FRB, best dressed), violations, and announcements. Even though jHavelina hashers pride themselves on knowing a lot of hash songs, we’ve backed ourselves into a corner where we have to sing particular songs for particular down-downs, even though there are many other choices – we always sing “Where oh where were you last week” to returners; we always sing “S-H-I-T-T-Y T-R-A-I-L” to the hares; we always sing “We’re the ________ Hash, All the Others Suck” to visitors. We’re even getting to the point where certain hashers – no substitutions allowed! – have to lead particular songs! Always, always, always, and no deviations please!

Seriously, some members of the circle get visibly uncomfortable when the GM gets the down-downs out of order, or when someone sings a different song than the one they expected. And that’s not right! The joy of hashing is the unexpected, isn’t it?

Now please don’t mistake me – I love the hash and all my hashing friends and even the ritual of the circle. I just wish we’d give spontaneity a little breathing room.

To be fair, I have to say that while hashers resist change, change they do, albeit slowly. When I first ran with my local hash, in 1994 or 95, no one knew more than two or three hash songs. Today any member of the pack can sing dozens – we know so many, in fact, it’s an automatic down-down if someone repeats a song that’s already been sung. As for the circle, the awards and down-downs we give today would be totally unrecognizable to a time-traveling hasher from the mid-90s. So yes, hashers change, but you won’t see it happening from week to week – year to year’s more like it.

It’s also peculiar that our resistance to change applies only to our home hash. Local hashers routinely go hashing in distant cities, some as far as 350 miles away. They don’t go to strange hashes and complain because things aren’t done our way; on the contrary, they love the experience and they come home full of new ideas. And I do have to admit that, over time and in spite of local resistance, some of those ideas work their way into our way of doing things – especially if it’s the GM or RA who comes home from a hashing vacation with new ideas!

Similarly, local hashers run with other area hashes, all of which do things differently from each other and from us, both on trail and in the circle, and they’re fine with the differences. Just don’t be pullin’ any of that stuff at our hash, thank you very much!

So what’s the point of this diatribe? Loosen up, hashers, that’s all. Just loosen up.

And do things my way, damn it!

 - Flying Booger

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