I know a lot about hashing . . . enough to know I don’t really know anything about hashing.
I grew up thinking once you’ve seen three or more marks after the last check, you’re on. That a false trail could be only three marks long before the BT. That if you can’t see the next mark up ahead and you’re not at a check, trail goes straight. That hashers had hash names. That all hashes had circles. That hares had to write Beer Near or On In somewhere close to the end.
But all these “truths” are local. What’s true in my mother hashes, Tampa and Okinawa, isn’t necessarily true anywhere else. There are hashes where hares lay false trails one or two miles long. Where hares turn on powder with no checks. Where hashers use real names, have no circles, wouldn’t know what Beer Near meant if they tripped over it. There are hashes . . . not many, true . . . where they don’t even drink.
It’s a big world and there are as many ways to hash as there are hashes in it. But there are also a lot of purists who know the One True Way and never hesitate to tell the rest of us about it. Hashers who insist dead hare hashes aren’t the real thing. That walkers aren’t hashers. That trails don’t count if they’re not at least eight miles long.
Hashers like that need to get out more, which is why I’ve always been a proponent of road trips. When I started traveling around Asia in the early 1990s, I learned that Okinawa HHH didn’t have a lock on the truth, that there were many ways to hash, all of them fun. Good thing, too, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have survived the shock of hashing with the Honolulu Hash, where they do everything differently. When I got back to the western US, I was a promiscuous hasher, traveling around California, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, and New Mexico, running with as many hashes as I could.
Every now and then I’d find myself in a town fellow Okinawa hashers had transferred to, and I’d call them up to see if they’d be at the hash. After the first dozen “they don’t hash here like they did in Okinawa” whinges, I quit calling. Frankly, I don’t want to hang around with people who have a lock on the truth. Their outlook on life is as limited as their outlook on hashing.
Are there any central truths about hashing? Of course there are. How can you have a hash if you don’t have a trail to follow? There has to be a trail, and therefore there has to be a hare. There has to be a pack, even if it’s only one guy and his dog, to follow the trail. I’ll stick my neck out and say there should be beer at the end, or at least some kind of liquid refreshment.
I’ll stick another part of my anatomy out and say that hares should always go looking for lost hashers. I know a lot of hares are reluctant to do that, but people should clean up their own messes. I think trail should go straight if you can’t see the next mark from the mark you’re at, especially if you’re in tall grass or shiggy. But these are my own personal truths, based on my own experience as a hasher, and if I visit a hash where these truths do not apply, I don’t bitch about it. If the hares won’t go looking for lost hashers I’ll do it myself; if trail is impossible to follow, I’ll go back to the start. It’s all good; it’s all hashing; it’s all useful experience; if it doesn’t kill me it makes me stronger.
Personally, I like finding out how much I don’t know. It helps me appreciate life, and people, and hashing.