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Love on the Run 

How a combination footrace and frat party became one of the best places in the city to hook up

Wednesday, Aug 11 2004

Page 4 of 5

"First of all, there's dating in the hash and hooking up," he explains. "There are a lot of chicks in the hash that are totally OK to just go home after the party and just fuck. And you're both friendly afterwards, but not necessarily more friendly than you are to anyone else." Dating is another story. And it turns out that the zest with which Caton enjoys the small dating pool of the hash has become a bit of a problem.

"I've dated people in the hash, and it's ended and been fine, and I've dated people and had it be the most horrible experience of my life," he concedes. The psychological aftermath of Caton's last tryst is evident: He walks on eggshells when his ex (a frequent South Bay hasher) moonlights at a San Francisco event, and points to what may be the physical evidence of their bumpy breakup -- a keyed scar that runs the length of his Jeep's passenger side.

"I've dated in the hash, but it is like living in a small town," confirms Sue Redding (aka Cums Quickly). The 45-year-old hasher ("39 in a dark room") has sworn off interhash romance. "If it doesn't go well, everyone knows about it, and it's torture beyond belief."

"I'm pretty well known as a slut if you ask around," Caton says. "But I'd like to think I've gotten better about it. After a while you either date or ask out everyone you're already interested in. And you run out of possibilities. That's kind of where I am right now. Either I've already dated everyone that I want or the people that I haven't dated that I want to have already said no three times." Then he adds, optimistically, "But there always are new people."

As we sit across from each other at a neighborhood park, the Gypsies start to trickle in, sweaty and cursing, demanding beer. Tonight there's a newbie, an attractive investment banker named Janice, recently relocated from New York City. When her name comes up during our conversation, Caton confesses, "I'd like to get my hooks into that one."

Scarlett O'Hairy is standing at the bucket, trying to explain how hashing has changed her life -- without slurring. When she moved to San Francisco in the fall of 2000, she was plain ol' Tara Bietz, a hotel manager in her early 30s, single and without a friend in town. When she was introduced to hashing soon after she arrived, Bietz became addicted: It was an easy way to meet new people and see the city. For the next two years Bietz went to almost every hash on Mondays and Thursdays. She had a new posse of friends and got her hash name. Over time, Bietz started to notice a leggy male hasher called Peteophile (Peter Stangel). Soon Cupid's arrow struck.

"After a couple months we became closer friends, and then more," Bietz recalls. The two hashers started to date seriously, and eventually Stangel popped the question.

"We wouldn't be together if it wasn't for the hash," Bietz says. "I would never be with anybody who wasn't a hasher. They are comfortable, relaxed people, and sometimes a little obnoxious. They are the kind of people where if I was ever in jail -- and I hope to God I never will be -- it doesn't matter where I am, I can call a hasher. It's a fun, loving group. It is like being on recess for adults. If you can play with someone like that and they can play, too, and there's a spark, it's great. I've seen people who hash who have partners who don't hash, and it's hard to understand."

Bietz and Stangel shouldn't have that problem. They are only the most recent set of dedicated hash participants to tie the knot, which will happen this fall in a ceremony conducted by an ordained hasher. They're getting married on a camping retreat. Will the festivities include a hash run? Of course.

"I would go [to hashes] at first to have fun, not necessarily to meet people for the rest of my life," Bietz says. "But sometimes you do. I did. When you end up in a relationship with somebody, you want someone who is a lot like you. People are drawn to the hash for the same reasons, the same interests, and the same sense of humor. For people to find a partner in the hash seems natural."

Bietz's story is becoming more and more common. According to Grand Master Robert Philkill, the local chapters of the Hash House Harriers produce four or five weddings a year. Most recently, the S.F. Hash has seen unions between Shit Eating Grin (Justin Graham) and Wide Angle (Victoria Graham) as well as Crabs (Jeff Weiss) and Candy Ass (Darcy Mercord). Two other regulars, Open Wide (Liz Powell) and Likes to Lick (Jack Powell), also recently married by an ordained hasher, just found out they are going to have a baby.

"There is all kinds of serious relationships that come out of the hash," Caton says, speaking about the union of Open Wide and Likes to Lick. "That's the kind of thing that everyone is looking for."

I catch the pregnant (though not yet showing) Liz, a sunny dental hygienist in her 30s, standing around the bucket after a Thursday night Gypsies run, a plastic cup (water) in hand. She's waiting for Jack, telling her own stories about love on the hash: about the first time she laid eyes on Jack after a Monday night event three years ago; about jumping into his convertible half-drunk and falling in love; about how, while they were scouting a trail together for a run, he pulled out a ring and asked her to marry him; about how, as we speak within a circus of intoxicated athletes, her life has been changed by the Hash House Harriers.

About The Author

Nate Cavalieri


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