Every city has its kennel. The Corvallis Hash House Harriers (CH3) are just one chapter, one kennel, in the worldwide hashing community that participates bi-weekly in literally running amok.
Starting in Malaysia in 1938, when a group of colonial officers made a habit of running to relinquish week’s-past demons, hashing has transformed into what is now called “a drinking group with a running problem.” On Mismanagement-elected days, hares lay trail in woods or other local wilds for hounds to follow in the form of chalked or floured symbols, indicating along the way if hounds should stop for song, refreshments (usually beer), or elected partial nudity.
The hares, Blue Butt Plug and Wiffle Suck for Food—Wiffle for short—made sure to lay a treacherous trail this past Friday the 13th. This was made clear as soon as we circled up for chalk talk, a whole smorgasbord of floured symbols on the pavement.
Commencement of circle marks the start of our ritual, with Wiffle at center calling on hashers to introduce themselves. A total of nine virgins are present, plus more than a dozen veteran hashers. I am called “Just Stevie,” having had no noteworthy blunder or attendance record worth warranting a name.
This is the biggest turnout since Wiffle came to Corvallis and took charge of consistent get-togethers and social media, all aside from his duties as Religious Advisor. RA’s are charged with circle-orating, settling traditional disputes, and taking blame for blue skies. Wiffle issues many noise complaints given our new girth. We are a boisterous bunch, barking our ballads with extra emphasis on profane parts and drinking our drinks “down-down-down.”
We break, packs of headlamps flickering off under darkening skies to follow the flour marks. The front-runners speed ahead and I maintain my mid-level pace, stopping at cross sections, calling “RU?” at both directions in hopes of hearing “On-On!”, the exclamation of true trail.
The trail is littered with You’ve Been F*ckeds (YBFs), at which point we must tread back through “shiggy,” briar patches and slippery mud puddles. Darkness sheathes the fallen logs and slopes, surprises to our shins and shoes. This is one perfect nightmare, a stark contrast to the last “Hedonist’s Halloween Rehash,” during which I was Khaleesi, caped and gliding through the forest post-noon—pure hash magic.
The hounds halt at song stops, boob checks, dick checks, and most celebratory beer checks along the way. Feelings keep easy, since everyone has a choice in exposure and surveillance. Wiffle made clear in circle no hasher may be ridiculed for keeping clothed.
Comfort, alongside consistency, is a goal Wiffle reiterates during our discussion On-After, a post-hash get-together usually hosted at a bar or home. He acknowledges how hashing has us confront our boundaries and push them if we please. The playful hazing and alter personas challenge self views. Hashing is drenched in humor and finesse, has us hone our vigilance and laugh when we tumble.
These values are apparent in naming ceremonies. Origin stories typically center around shameful events, a purposeful process that has us eventually accept our embarrassments or misfortunes. Names are often overtly sexual or offensive.
Wiffle got his graciously after revealing the childhood trauma of falling mouth-first on a wiffle ball bat which managed to wedge down his throat. His apparent acceptance of this trauma is emphasized by the wiffle bat he carries on his back and casually drinks from. Hashers reveal what they wish of their personal lives during On-After parties, when we typically reclaim our real names and let talk drift off.
Wiffle deems inclusivity his main priority. Above all, he wants hashers to feel like they belong—and to have fun. Despite the obvious defect of drinking, hashing may, in some cases, warrant wellness.
“In the right context, with the right people, hashing can genuinely save us.” The truth to Wiffle’s words is that hashing can be therapeutic, providing a break from the mundane and a protective net of like-minded, rambunctious venturers.
CH3 dets are posted on Meetup. Please keep in mind, as irresponsible as it may sound, hashing comes with the expected responsibility of staying safe when returning to societal bounds.
By Stevie Beisswanger