Today, 25 March 2011, is the tenth year Douglas Adams fans have celebrated him with ‘Towel Day.’ On Towel Day, we carry towels with us all day, following the advice given in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
“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.”
As you grab your towel today (it is rainy after all), think of all that Adams has given us.
He was the first person to successfully combine pythonesque humor & science fiction.
He was a conservationalist.
He worked with Monty Python and inspired Neil Gaiman, whose first book was a guide to the guide.
He gave us a new understanding of ‘triology,’ one unencumbered by the number 3.
He gave us some of the best lines you’ll ever find in science fiction.
He have us a work that has metamorphosized over nine times in various genres.
He told us the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
Finally, he gave us the best advice ever concerning life, the universe, and everything: ‘Don’t Panic!’