So, I’d like to introduce y’all to a new hobby of mine. (Well, relatively new-ish… I’ve been at it for about a year.)
To begin: Despite my good looks and stunning personality (and clear penchant for sarcasm) I have a hard time making friends. I’ve been in Atlanta for four years and have pretty well established my social circle. Well, it’s more like a nebula, but it’s a fairly tight-knit one. Thus, I’d been looking for some kind of activity that would facilitate expanding said nebula. For a while I tried playing kickball, but it brought up too many bad memories from grade school. I’m just not a competitive person. Even though my teammates assured me it did not matter that I was too short to catch the ball in the outfield, not fast enough to catch the ball in the infield, and not coordinated enough to even kick the ball anywhere not out of bounds, that I was still a valued member of the team. Be that as it may; if I’m failing miserably, I’m not having fun.
So, after giving up on kickball, the gentleman I had begun dating asked me if I’d ever heard of hashing. I had, once, several years ago. It was described to me as “running and drinking” which I envisioned as competitive racing while chugging beer at the same time. Needless to say, it sounded like at best a terrible idea… at worst a one-way ticket to the hospital. I soon came to find out that it is nothing like this– but first, a test.
Please gauge your reaction to the following photo:
Is it closer to…
A. Say no more. Where do I sign up?
B. Ummm… might be fun, but I paid $100 for my running shoes…
If you chose A, then you would probably make a good hasher.
The group to which I belong is officially known as the Hash House Harriers. Hashing basically consists of one or two people (“hares”) laying a trail through the woods (or, sometimes, urban jungle) and everyone else following the trail, with the intention of either catching the hares, or simply making it to the end with life and limb intact. At the end of the trail, to reward the pack’s efforts, there is the drinking of beer and the singing of lewd songs, along with a little good-natured hazing. Oh, and everybody eventually gets a nickname, which is bestowed after saying or doing something particularly memorable. Your hash name may or may not be something appropriate to tell children, the elderly, or your parents.
So really, hashing is pretty simple: It’s not a race. (Racist behavior is in fact frowned upon.) It’s not a drinking competition. It’s a chance to be outside, get some physical activity, meet people, and drink beer. Alcohol is also a great social lubricant, so it serves a dual purpose. And yes, for you teetotalers, there are non-alcoholic options too… but then it’s just running. ;) The only “catch” is you pay a very small fee (usually under $10) to cover the beverages. I’ve been unemployed since I started, so if I can afford it, so can you! The best part is I have met so many awesome folks, not only in Atlanta but in other cities as well. It seems that hashers are not so much strangers as they are friends you just haven’t met yet. Refreshingly, there is a very low if not non-existent douchebag factor, unlike what I encountered in kickball. (People who take themselves too seriously don’t become hashers, for obvious reasons.) I rarely meet a hasher I don’t like.
Hashing in Atlanta is interesting. It’s amazing how you don’t have to drive very far to end up in the sho’ nuff middle of nowhere. (Run faster, I hear banjos.) Sure, there are trails in varying degrees of difficulty, but my favorites are the ones where you end up tired and dirty by the end. Usually 4-6 miles, avoiding pavement as much as possible. I’ve waded through waist-deep swamp water, jumped through sticker bushes that make razor-wire look soft and cuddly, climbed fences, been attacked by hornets, and almost shot by hillbillies. Well, I made that last one up, but it could conceivably happen. The whole point is by the end you feel like you deserve a beer. I’ve also been able to explore a lot of the city that I had no idea existed. A trail I ran a few weeks ago followed that unused portion of railroad track behind Piedmont Park and Ansley Golf Course, and ended under Buford Highway / I-85. It was cool as hell!
Really, this whole post is just my blatant attempt at trying to recruit more hash buddies, especially people who will embark upon those particularly off-off-OFF the beaten path trails with me. You should send me an e-mail (atlartist at gmail.com) for more information. ;D