So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad* Training Specialist. Runner. Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) Certified Official, Category 2. RRCA Representative, Florida (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, March 12, 2012

You Can Leave Your Hat On

My formative years were in a small town in the desert of the Southwestern US.  Folks like my family (Northeastern White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) were the minority.  Fortunately for my sister and me we quickly were "adopted" into a Latino family who lived next door to my family's business.  We learned in those first years about the importance of family, an understanding of traditions which were (at that time) foreign to us, and a great deal of respect for the home in which we were invited.  When in Rome, it is best to do as the Romans do.

I believe this attitude has helped as I've grown, traveled and experienced some things.  One certain way to upset the locals, especially in some cultures which are a departure from what we consider "the norm," is to violate it.  Some cultures will take the offense with the amount of seasoning necessary and move on.  Others might be a little less tolerant.  The other way is to completely ignore or disregard what the culture considers tradition, strongly-held belief, or common practice.

The Hash House Harriers (a.k.a. the Hash) and "hashing" (a recreational activity which often merges the intake of beer with running on roads, trails, and paths of widely-varying quality) is a culture all its own.  Traditions, norms, folkways and social mores of the Hash can vary by group, depending on the surrounding culture.  A (perhaps too-)simple way to describe these traditions, norms, folkways, and social mores would be to parallel them with religious doctrine.  In fact, John Wesley's dictum: 'in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity' is probably most correct.

The essentials, in my humble opinion, are:
1.  Beverages - Either beer, water, or both.  Soda or sports drink is kind of out on the edge of acceptable.
2.  Trail - The distance and degree of difficulty are up to the person or persons laying out the trail.
3.  Circle - An opportunity for encouraging traditions, norms, folkways, and social mores, as well as having a few laughs...and more beverages.
4.  On-After - Jewish have "oneg shabbat."  Protestants have Piccadilly (or Furr's, if you prefer) Cafeteria, or Golden Corral, or Ryan's Buffet.  A good hasher always leaves room for more beer...and food...and beer.  That's where the fellowship of the "saints" continues.  Not necessarily required, but some good stories do come out there.

The songs sung and names given to each member of the Hash (proof of the member's group identity - both in the individual Hash and the Hash catholic) can range from tame to scatological.  Those are Wesleyan non-essentials.  But...how would you feel if someone in your immediate family decided to go to a church service with you, six-pack of beer in tow?  While you're taking very deep breaths, waiting for the ceiling to cave in or a thunderbolt to come out of the heavens...they're sitting in the back row, noisily cracking open a can or two while chatting on their cell phone.

To me, that's what it feels like when a "named" hasher shows up at another Hash's event and says, "I don't do circle."  Next thing you know they're holding a conversation in earshot of the group trying to engage in their traditions. 

It's difficult to be charitable toward these folks.

If they're not into Circle because what happens might make them look stupid, here's a news flash.  Hashing was not intended to be acceptable.  It's a way to blow off steam, to run and play and let your inner five-year-old out...with all the grown-up benefits.  And there are groups who want to make it acceptable.  That's fine, but when you're in someone else's "cathedral," sitting in someone else's "pew," at least sit quietly if you don't agree with the preacher...or have a seat in the car in the parking lot.

And please, don't call yourself a hasher.  At least not in my presence.  You can leave your hat on.

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