I’ve been hashing for almost two years now and I recently discovered Flying Booger’s Half-Mind Weblog, which I’ve been reading on occasion. It’s always edifying to read up on the history and practice of the glorious pastime we call hashing, and get someone else’s take on it. You’d never know how much the tradition of hashing can vary from place to place until you read about other kennels. Plus, Flying Booger’s website is a wealth of links to various hashing resources, not to mention the home of the famous Half-Mind Hymnal (of which I have a printed copy).
Today’s post, dubbed Boozing It Up, caught my attention (as does anything involving booze, natch). It was written from the 2009 InterAmericas Hash in Winter Park, Colorado. It has to do with the fact that Flying Booger doesn’t drink alcohol and was worried that he wouldn’t have fun at such a raucous, booze-filled event. Luckily, as I would have expected, it was not a problem for him. The VooDoo has at least a couple members that do not drink regularly, and have had other members refrain from drinking during Lent and the like, and it’s never been a problem for any of them. Obviously, you don’t need to drink to enjoy a good game of Paper Chase or a few bawdy singalongs! And if they’re ever called into the circle, we’ll usually make them chug from their water bottle or their electrolyte-infused sports drink, or whatever the kids use to moisten themselves these days. So if you don’t drink and don’t run, don’t be afraid to show up at a VooDoo hash anyway! The VooDoo is a social club that works for everyone.
There was one contentious point in Booger’s post, however. He doesn’t agree with the idea that HHH is “a drinking club with a running problem:”
Down-downs, circles, and interhashing — I hate to say it, but it’s true — are all built around drinking … and then there’s that goddamn motto about the hash being a drinking club — but you’ve all read my repeated rants on that, and I won’t bore you with more.
Well, since I’m new to hashing and the Half-Mind blog, I haven’t read his rants on the subject, but YES, the Hash House Harriers is a drinking club (surprise, surprise)! The whole practice literally revolves (circles) around drinking. First off, I’m not usually one to preach fundamentalism, but the original hash was founded as a hangover cure. It even specifically mentions the word “beer” in the Constitution of the Hash House Harriers circa 1950! But even ignoring that, what would a hash be without a circle at the On-In? A hash has a circle, and a circle has down-downs, and down-downs require chugging; therefore the hash is a drinking club. Without down-downs, there would be no circle. If we all chugged water, it wouldn’t make much sense, and we’d just stop doing it. It would only work if an alternative form of “punishment” was established. Not to mention many songs are written about drinking or contain the words “down-down.” So, sorry to say, HHH is unequivocally a drinking club.
Hashing without a circle at the end is quite possible, but it sure would be missing a lot of the rowdy traditions and songs that make it fun and unique. As hashing gains popularity across the globe, I’m sure it will continue to evolve many more forms, but to really understand it you would have to experience it in its original form. I mean, I suppose you can sing songs whenever you want, but it would be confusing to introduce any new boots to the hashing traditions outside the context of a circle. Hash songs, down-downs, hash namings, accusations, hash crimes, elbow-pointing, headgear, “who said head?”, full mooning, two dogs fucking, spank machines, sleeves of justice … these are all traditions that more or less rely on an organized circle to make them happen. It would be a shame not to have these things. To me, it might still be hashing, but it just wouldn’t be the same.
What do y’all think?
Update 09/24/09: Flying Booger updated his original post after reading this one to remind me that what we know as “On-In circles” are actually a recent development. According to a comment left by Amnesia, a UK hasher, circles didn’t develop until the 80s! Serves me right; now I don’t know what to think! I guess it shows how partial I am to our particular brand of hashing.
More reason than ever to do some traveling and see what other kennels have in store for me.