On-in: Flannery’s 14th and 7th Ave
If there's one thing I've noticed at hashes, it's that relationships have their ups and downs – and no, I'm not talking about you. So I wasn't too surprised when the clear, warm weather of this gorgeous sunny day darkened into a blustery black evening. I was happy about the weather, however, as it wasn't the downpour we were gonna get in a few days at the NASS in Staten Island. And the weather didn't matter anyway, seeing as it was the first Wednesday NYCH3 event of the season! and nothing would hold us back. Nothing, perhaps, except for the trail….
Turnout at the Start was significant as the warm weather and Wednesday start brought out several types of hashers: Fair-weather hashers, hashers returning to the fray, regular hashers and even Virgins. The pack congealed at the tried-and-true hole-in-the-wall called Flannery's which was also called, in secret at that time anyway, the "In-In" by Hares Eager for Beaver and Leave my Clothes on Lauren. Ok they probably didn't call it the In In, but I'm for changing the name in honor of those fearless and plucky reporters at AM New York, who refuse to be deterred from crafting their humourously accurate stories.
The trail started along 14th street. As the pack took off running west towards the Hudson, the gusts of wind provided both encouraging caresses and soft deterring slaps. That invisible hand of wind pushed the group to quickly spread like dandelion seeds. Or not; I could be just filling this space. A pause at the check at the West Side Highway reminded me of the way that the highway's current namesake, Joe DiMiaggio, would pause mid-pitch to ponder before chopping the ball in his signature way. Another hasher I came across there was lost in daydreams about an edgier name of the highway, "Death's Avenue," so named in the olde days for all the car/train accidents that happened there. Then we all sprinted across the 6 lanes of oncoming traffic, because we all know hashing is a race, whatever they tell you, and also we're not afraid of Death, so there.
After goofing around a bit on Horatio Street we continued what would turn out to be a pattern of running straight lines throughout this area of Manhattan. First we ran straight down ol' JDiMaggio Highway; then we ran up and down and up Seventh Avenue a bit; then we thought we'd run straight east along 12th, and then 6 or 7 blocks straight up 5th. I recall thinking at the time that at this point in the hash all the straightaways are probably a good thing, what with the great linear momentum the pack had built up by now. We wouldn't want anyone to get hurt by the tremendous application of shearing force that each of us would require in order to change our direction.
Fortunately we were able to slow ourselves down naturally before we reached escape velocity because a) we were running out of steam and 2) the trail abruptly ceased forcing us down straightaways and entered the long awaited 'park' stage. In this phase we ran through all three parks in the immediate vicinity. First a check in Madison Square Park gave us the opportunity for a brief but fruitful debate regarding the evolution of the Beaux-Arts school of architecture (US). A few of the more rambunctious of us took several moments to check around for trail while comparing and contrasting the nearby Flat Iron building with those other famous examples of the movement, Grand Central Station and the incomparable New York Public Library. When the discussion came to it's natural conclusion we continued running along the newfound trail which led, via a drunken-stagger-style, to Gramercy Park. By now many if not all of the pack believed that we were heading to the Union Square area for drinks! But they were only half right, in that we were in fact heading to Union Square. As we ran south past the park, skirting the eastern side, I could practically see the question mark floating above the pack's collective head — where in the world is the In-In?? And then it happened. The trail led to 14th street and 5th Ave.
Hadn't we been here before? Hashers that actually pay attention during the run were befuddled, with some actually having 'x's in their eyes like knocked out comic book characters. Could the trail cross itself? Who were these Hares who would risk such a thing? Was Manhattan really so small that they couldn't set a trail without it crossing iteself? If it was a really big circle jerk, where did it pick up? How can 'this is a lie' be one? And anyway, we've already been here so WTF?? And now is when those of us who blindly follow the trail came into our own. With the blind doggedly leading the pack West down 14th Street, even the most clueless among us could not help but realize that we were close to completing the – Surprise!! – A-to-A trail. I for one was fooled, but there's those "I knew it" types who are always around when a surprise comes along, pleasant or otherwise. And no, I'm still not talking about you.
Down-Downs at the In-In were had by several. From the chicken scratch notes that I gratefully accepted (your scribe wasn't officially your scribe until afterwards), it appears that: The hares did down-downs, some Virgins did too. Bahamonde got one for having the good taste to return but the bad taste to admit that the impetus was AM New York. "Team" Leader Joey B and Henry drank beer for their initialed packs, a secondary blunder indeed, the first one being never get involved in a land war in Asia. Lisa M got one for, and I quote, "late b/c trains she oughta," which is as good a reason as I've heard, if not understood, in years. Also Girl Scout Nookie had a birthday down-down, and I had the opportunity to learn that John's hash name is Yank It when he got a down-down for taking out that babystroller, a charge he vigorously if uselessly denied. Then Flannery's closed around us like warm smothering breasts, and when we regained consciousness we were back in Kansas, longing for another Hash adventure. Luckily Baum wrote sequels and so will we.