I’m thinking 42

I almost forgot about it. In my quest to locate some court documents, read legalese-laden appellate court decisions and deal with silly little newspaper stuff, I almost did not realize the significance of today’s date.

Happy Towel Day, everyone.

Towel Day is celebrated every May 25 as a tribute by fans of the late author Douglas Adams. The commemoration was first held in 2001, two weeks after his death on May 11, and since then has been extended to an annual event. On this day, fans carry a towel with them throughout the day.

Whew, good thing I had a towel in my car.

For the uninitiated, Douglas Adams was the author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series. Hollywood tried to make a movie or two from it, which totally bombed. But the books are awesome and timeless. I loved them as a teenager, and years later handed them to my son Nick, who loved them as much as I do.

Here is a brief explanation about the towel reference:

“….a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, 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 hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker 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.”

In my opinion, the wonderful thing about Adams’ work is the nonsensical way in which it makes perfect sense.

For instance, the answer to the question “What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?” is really quite simple.

42

According to Adams, it took Deep Thought, a supercomputer, 7.5 million years to come up with the answer.

"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is."

Sometime later the Earth is destroyed so a hyperspace bypass can be created. The adventures of Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect go on from there.

The preface of “Hitchhiker” goes something like this:

“This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of flying. There is an art, it states, or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, it suggests, and try it.

Here is a quote that British Petroleum can probably relate with right now:
“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.”

In the prologue for “”So Long and Thanks for All the Fish,” there is a great introduction.

“Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.
“And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.
“Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass, and so the idea was lost, seemingly for ever.”

Wild stuff, and a huge shout out to a former boyfriend, Darel Paul, for introducing me to Adams’ work back when I was in high school. (You people didn’t think I was born married to Eric, did you?)

Happy Towel Day! So, Douglas Adams fans out there, what are some of your favorite quotes? Let’s hear ‘em.
 

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