Last week, I was contacted by Richard "Virgin Dick" Paris, a member of the Miami/Fort Lauderdale chapter of the Hash House Harriers – the self-described "drinking group with a running problem."
Put simply, hashing works like this: hashers meet (once a week, here) and one or
two of them, called "hares," start running, throwing flour on the ground in strategically tricky spots, creating a trail for everybody else to follow and try to catch them. Along the way (and before and after) there is beer.
Virgin Dick (that's his hash name -- V.D. for short), was concerned: a few weeks ago, two hashers were arrested near New Haven when an all-too-well-trained citizen reported the "suspicious" behavior of two people spotted running through an IKEA parking lot, sprinking a white substance behind them. The citizen duly reported the matter to authorities, who duly called police, firefighters, and the state hazmat team – the latter dressed in space suits -- to investigate the substance. The two hashers have been charged with felonies – possibly because the city got billed some $50,000 for that high-tech flour cleanup.
Oh, and the Ikea store had to close for a whole day – that was mentioned in several articles, thanks to the ever-vigilant Fourth Estate.
Hashers are rallying in support of their bretheran – according to Washington, D.C. hasher Kevin “Cap’n Crunch” Adams, some $2,000 has been raised towards a legal defense fund.
Virgin Dick says that the New Haven scare isn't the first time hashers have come up against humorless authorities – "It's like the time Teflon Willie got stopped running down the 17th Street Causeway in Fort Lauderdale," he recalls. "They had thirteen cop cars, three fire engines, and a chopper. . . I guess they figured the jihad was coming and they were going to start in the back of this drive-thru restaurant."
"With all the nonsense," Virgin Dick said, "maybe someone (like you) could explain how stupid the overreaction has been to the innocence of our trails."
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Full disclosure: I hash. I am a hasher. My home hash is Washington, D.C., my present affiliation is with the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Wild Card Hash, and my hash name is Billy "G" Goat (don’t ask -- I am also known as "Bla-ah-ah-ah-ger, and, having hashed briefly in the nude, Billy Goat Buff).
That said, on to “the innocence of trails”: In order to get my hash name, I had to engage in the same apparently felonious activity as the New Haven hashers – that is, I had to lay a trail. And I had to be covered in sweat and flour, a team of happy, shouting drunks in close pursuit, the whole city suddenly an endless, open trail just waiting for a puff of flour to mark it. In other words, a puppy in a basket is a greater menace to the Homeland than a hasher laying trail.
So should the concerned South Floridian see some strange characters laying a powdery white substance in some forgotten urban corner – hell, maybe even at the new Ikea scheduled to open soon in Sunrise -- grab a drink and join them. -- Isaiah Thompson