Mine is right with me. It’s Towel Day!
Douglas Adams is a huge influence on me. He was taken from us too soon.
I discovered the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in my early teens during a “rough” patch in my life. I put the word “rough” in quotes because when I look back at my 14 year old self, I’m seeing an emo streak that I do not like, but that most teens have at one point or another. Objectively, I had it pretty good, but at 14, you could never convince me of that.
HHGTTG gripped my growing mind in a way nothing else had before or since. It was humour both sophisticated and crude and more than twisted. I would call it sprained. At the time, the message that came to me from the story is the possibility that no matter what I was living and seeing, the truth was likely a lot weirder than anything I could expect and I was fine with that.
My favorite line from the books, describing the Vogon Contructor Fleet:
“The impossibly huge yellow somethings that hung in the air in much the same way that bricks don’t.”
That line tripped my mind when I read it. I remember I stopped reading and I read it again.
That line twisted my brain and made me laugh and introduced me to the genius that was DNA.
To Mr Douglas Adams: You are missed.
I’ve grown up a bit since that first (first of many many) readings. Now I’m hoping to get some writing done, be a good husband and dad and be remembered as a hoopy frood who knew where his towel was.
And in honour of towel day, allow me to describe the importance of towels.
” A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)”
– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
If, dear reader, you have never read this story then close the browser, run out now and find a copy. Read it. You won’t be sorry.