Dear Doctor Down-Down,
I started hashing years ago in Southern California. In those days San Diego had just one hash, and it was a great one. Unfortunately, my company transferred me overseas, and I’ve only recently returned to San Diego, and to hashing. Something must have happened while I was away, because today there are more hashes in this town than I can count. What’s up with this? Why can’t hashers leave a perfectly good thing alone? Why are there so many hashes here, all competing with each other? What’s wrong with having one hash per location, rather than many? How do I choose which hash to go to?
Confused in California
Many cities have only one hash, but as you point out that’s not the case everywhere. Some cities have become hashing “megacenters,” and San Diego is one of them. In San Diego, you can hash every day of the week, and two or three times a day on Saturday.
So why do multiple hashes spring up in certain locations? Do multiple hashes compete with, or complement, each other? Based on patient testimony and my own hashing experience, I can offer a few ideas:
If a Little Is Good, More Is Better
As you know, my clinic is located in Tucson, Arizona. Over the years, members of the original Tucson hash, the jHavelina HHH, started several other hashes: a weeknight pickup hash, a monthly family hash, a biweekly pub-crawl hash, separate men-only and women-only hashes. Far from competing with the original hash, the new hashes were created to give hashers additional opportunities to hash. How do I know this? Because I see the same old jHavelina hashers at every other hash, myself included!
Time to Lose Some Weight
In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the original hash attracted huge crowds, growing to almost 600 hashers, a logistical nightmare for mismanagement, who responded by intentionally breaking the original hash into three separate hashes – and not only that, scheduling each of the three hashes’ weekly meets on the same day and time, thereby preventing all 600 hashers from showing up at all three hashes. In some locations, separate hashes exist to accommodate members who can’t all hash together on the same day, as in Las Vegas, Nevada, where many hashers have to work on weekends.
I’m Feeling Kinky
In many cities, specialty hashes abound, each designed to appeal to different tastes in hashing. Thus a men-only hash may spin off a women-only hash, then a mixed hash, then a family hash, then a hard-core hash featuring long and athletic trails, then a laid-back hash featuring pub crawls and fat boy trails, and on and on. This is closely related to the first category, in that the outcome is more opportunities to hash.
Are You Seeing Someone Else?
It’s not unheard of for two hashes to spring up in the same area, each unknown to the other. By the time members of one hash find out about the other hash, they’re already used to their own traditions, and see no reason to merge. Something like this happened in Perth, Australia, with Hamersley HHH and Perth HHH. Sometimes these independent co-located hashes get together for joint events on special occasions, like New Year’s Day, but generally they keep to themselves.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Once in a while, hashes break up into competing groups. Since you mention San Diego specifically, several hashers have told me that the original group’s by-invitation-only policy led excluded hashers to start new hashes. I once heard of a harrier who ran for GM of a hash kennel, lost the election, and started a new hash – just so that he could call himself GM. More than one hash has been founded as a result of an acrimonious divorce, thus allowing ex-husband and ex-wife to continue hashing without the annoyance of having to see each other on trail. Usually, breakaway hashes schedule their meets so as not to conflict with the original hash, but this isn’t always so – sometimes the breakup is so bitter the two hashes intentionally schedule their meets on the same day and time, forcing everyone to take sides. I call these “oppositional hashes,” and I’ve actually heard of a case where hares from one oppositional hash sabotaged the other group’s trail. When hashing gets that competitive, you know something’s wrong. Alas, hashers are only human, and some of us just don’t play well with others!