Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We Have Traditions, Not Rules. We Have Our Own Culture.

Last night, I had a kickass evening catching up with a kickass friend, A. We laughed til our cheeks hurt and tears were streaming down our faces. Perfect night. We were walking the same way and talking, saying our long goodbye because dammit I don't live here (whaa!), when two goofy looking guys came up to us. Both are wearing sweaty old t-shirts and basketball shorts, both have backpacks and are grinning like idiots.

They ask us where Buffalo Billiards is. We give them directions and watch them walk away. We have a quick laugh and think they probably came from a kickball game or something. Kickball is strangely more popular now than it was in elementary school. I think all the losers from the elementary school games are finding new glory in the game as adults. Oh! And the best is that one of the guys had a plastic mug that appeared to contain some kind of alcoholic beverage.

We watch them from across the street and see two girls come up to them, then the guys take a picture of the girls in front of Krispy Kreme. One girl has her arms out like Vanna White. Odd. Odder still, she climbs up on the shoulder of one of the guys, and the other girl takes her picture. The girls giggle and run away.

By this time, my friend and I have crossed the street to join these vagabonds. I shout out, "Hey, we gave you directions, don't we get piggy back rides?" One guy promptly throws down his backpack and bends down saying, "Sure! Come on!"

I am not about to climb aboard, but laugh and thank him for his offer.

Unfortunately, they see this as an invitation to chat with us for awhile. We later learn their nicknames, and I am telling you, I could not make this shit up. A-Salt My Ass and Daffy Fuck. For reals. So A-Salt says to us, "We're hashers! We've been hashing!" Daffy nodds, enthusiastically.

A and I exchange a glance, wondering if these guys are telling us they're on drugs.

"What's hashing?" I ask, with my head cocked suspiciously to one side.

"We drink and we run." He answers as though this explains it all.

"You drink and run? Like concurrently?" A asks.

"Yeah. We run, and as we're running we look for crushed pink flowers or a pink chalk arrow and then we all meet up at a bar to drink. Then we keep running until we see it again. At the end, we just hang out and drink all night." - A-Salt

"Is that healthy? I don't think I could do that. Run on a stomach full of alcohol." - me

"Yeah, it's fine. You should try it! Are you both from here?"

We explain our living situations. They also want to know where we're from. This conversation is already longer than it should be, but we're intrigued by these weird characters and want to know more about "hashing." Daffy tells me I should "hash" in Atlanta. A-Salt says there are probably 8 different hashing clubs in Atlanta, and I should join one. Neither bother to ask if I run. I don't.

"Yeah, it's an international organization. We're global. There are hashers in practically every city around the world. We have our own culture." - A-Salt, again. Perhaps Daffy doesn't talk. He just nodds in agreement at everything A-Salt says.

A and I look at each other and know that we're both thinking, "More like a cult." Or a terrorist group? They do sound rather organized...and brainwashed.

"We have traditions, not rules." Daffy contributes. I tell him it sounds like Fight Club. They take this as a compliment...it wasn't meant as one. I love that movie, but those dudes were f-ed up.

"So I don't get it. What's hashing? Where did that come from?" I can't help but encourage them further.

"Well, it all started back in the 1930's with..." We laugh in boredom and are too busy cracking up to pay attention to the long, complicated history of hashing.

A points out where the bar is again. "So see that place right there? You go down those steps, and that's Buffalo Billiards." They don't get the hint.

He asks us our names, and after we tell them, Daffy introduces himself as "Daffy." I remembered seeing "Daffy Fuck" on A-Salt's t-shirt so I say, "Oh. Daffy Fuck?" They both laugh, proud to be grown men with frat house nicknames, and A-Salt tells us his name is "A-Salt My Ass." We're scared. And thankful we're standing in the busiest part of DC.

"Uh, and where did that come from?"

"I was in the Marines." This confuses me, and I am suddenly concerned about what happened to him while serving. I'm tempted to offer up the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

He explains, "See, once you've been hashing for awhile you sit inside of a circle and all the other members jump around you and ask you questions about yourself. You know, where are you from, what's your favorite bar, what do you do for a living. Then your friends get in the circle and tell funny drunk stories about you. And everyone picks your nickname. You don't even get a choice or anything!" He laughs at...God only knows what...A and I think this sounds like a freaky tribal mating ritual. Or human sacrifice.

"We're celebrating one of our members tonight who died of cancer. We'll be drinking, singing songs. We have songs. Dirty ones." Great dude. I'm way impressed.

"You girls should come. There'll be about...what? 114 of us? 120?"

Daffy nodds. I feel sorry for him. Like Katie Holmes, he's been hijacked by scary cult people and his innocent mind warped.

Again A-Salt tells us both that we should be hashers. "You'd really like it. It's cool. It's like being in a fraternity all over again."

"Oh yeah! I had a blast when I was in a fraternity! Those were the good ol' days." Weirdo. Why do I look like a girl who wishes she was in a fraternity?

A tells him she's going to google it as soon as she gets home. They believe her and offer thanks from the bottoms of their alcoholic hearts.

Finally, they scurry off, and we die laughing. My little stomach muscles are sore from the laughter. A says she doesn't think dirty songs are the best way to memorialize a friend who died of cancer. I agree.

Let this be a warning to you all - Don't hash. Stay away from hashers. They're creepy, weird alcoholics with an odd sense of superiority and total lack of understanding about true athleticism or healthy exercise. I have a cool idea. I'm going to eat McDonald's while on the elliptical machine. Supersize me. Scientology has nothing on these fools.

* A little endnote, A did google hashing. And it is global so look out, world, they're everywhere. My favorite website feature was the Hashing T-Shirt Museum.


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