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My Dad Thinks I’m Gay, Soulless, Just Bitch, I Think I Have Aids, and Quick Comer.

These are not the names of discount pornos or books in the bargain bins of Wal-Mart, but actual nicknames that people are proud of. They achieved these nicknames, or as they are formally called “Hash Names”, by saying or doing stupid or attention grabbing things during a run with the Hash Harriers, the drinking club with a running problem. This organization and its degrading nicknames has chapters all over the world, but my Mother Hash, is in Hsinchu, Taiwan, where I was delighted to find other people who enjoyed exercising and drinking alcohol as hobbies, but didn’t spend all day at the gym or all their time on a bar stool. I highly doubt that many health experts would say drinking beer, nay chugging it, before, after, and during a run is beneficial for your health, but the Hash Harriers never said it was about body improvement.

I say and do stupid things all the time but sadly, I had been in the Hash Harriers for eight months and had not received a Hash Name. My boyfriend, Quick Comer, got his nickname because he’s an actual runner who doesn’t just show up for the beer and had placed first in many of our runs. My friend, Alana, was knighted Just Bitch, for obnoxiously yelling and interrupting everyone when they were trying to do Down Down’s after a run. Down Down’s are when we honor (ie insult) people after a run for cheating (taking short-cuts) or being slow. Hash Harriers is all about respect and love.  For example, one of the runners, Anja, was rewarded with the name Finger My Box, when she kindly took the time to make everyone Halloween cookies that looked like realistic fingers and were served in a tupperware. The point of a Hash Name is for the person to hate it. The person should bristle whenever they hear themselves called by that name. It should disgust and offend them. I wanted one so bad.

The island of Taiwan has Hash Harrier chapters in all of its major cities and they come together once a year for a Hash run imaginatively called the “All Island Run.” At least five buses of runners pulled up to the side of the highway in Miaoli, which isn’t known for much except lots and lots of jungle that we would be running through. Everyone stood around, conversing in Chinese and English, while every five minutes someone would disappear into the tall grasses that had become a make-shift bathroom, thanks to all the consumption of Taiwan Beer.  While everyone sipped on theirs, I pressed a fake tattoo onto my calf that said “I ❤ Hash.” It was more than obvious to me that I would need to remove the tattoo before going back to work as a first grade ESL teacher on Monday.

When you see drunk people stumbling up and down mountainsides and having beer poured on their head, it’s easy to forget that most of us are educating the youth of Taiwan. Our Hash leader, Nate, actually works at a prestigious private school, but currently he was trying to figure out how to put a tattoo on his forehead.

“Nate, you’re doing it totally wrong, you have to take that part off!,” I said while laughing loudly at his expense and feeling superior.

He hadn’t even peeled off the plastic layer on the paper.

“Let me do it. I totally love fake tattoos, I do them all the time.”

My palm was firmly on his forehead, holding the tattoo there. It looked like were were communicating through ESP or as if I was an evangelical minister pulling out the demons from his sin-rotted soul.

“I think this is a bonding moment,” he said.

I took the paper off and there “I ❤ Hash” was, slightly off-center. Nate thanked me and we got ready to start the 13km run. Hours later, when I’d finally made my way down the muddy, rain soaked mountain after getting lost and falling multiple times, I saw him up on stage under bright lights doing Down Downs without me, as I’d come in to the finish too late. I was sore, wet, and in a rotten mood. I wanted a beer. My boyfriend thankfully brought me one (he’d finished the run two hours before) and we all sat down to eat our dinner at a round table with many rice and seafood dishes to share, Taiwanese-style. There was beer all around and you could hear the other tables singing the Hash drinking songs, while they swayed precariously on their chairs with their arms around each other. We continued eating and suddenly Nate and another hash runner, Adam, stopped their drunken conversation and turned their attention to me.

“How long have you been doing the Hash?”

“8 months.”

“She needs a name!”

I couldn’t hear them well over the din of bottles being clinked around and chopsticks being scraped against plastic, but I heard bits and pieces of the important discussion.

“She tattooed my forehead this morning!”

“Skin Artist!”

“How many people did she tattoo? Four?”

“No, one.”

“She had her hand on my forehead. She’s a skin violater!”

“A FOREskin violater.”

“Yes!”, they yelled in unison.

I had to get down on one knee, in my sports bra, while they poured cold beer on my already wet head and officially named me, while my friends and boyfriend looked proudly on.

Foreskin Violater.

The name brings up disturbing imagery, is slightly offensive, and would make a horrible, vomit-inducing porno title.

Don’t tell anyone, but I love it.

 

 

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