It’s May 25th and it’s a very special day. Why? Well for one, today is Towel Day, the day in which any hitchhiker worth his (or her) mettle, proudly displays his preparedness with a towel! It’s from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams.
From 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 vapours; 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.
Douglas Adams left Earth to start out on his own tour of the galaxy on May 11, 2001. His leaving was the first time that I ever realized that my heart could break from the lose of someone I never even knew. This book was my first introduction to that dry, sarcastic English wit that I so love today. Honestly, I don’t think I would love books nearly as much as I do now if it weren’t for him. There are several books in his famous “trilogy” as well as others penned by him, and you need to read them all. So be sure to remember him today by locating and loving your trusty towel.
“Truth, Justice, Freedom, Reasonably-Priced Love and a Hard-Boiled Egg!”
And while you’re sporting your towel, don’t forget to Wear the Lilac today. We wear the lilac in remembrance of those brave members of the Night Watch and The People’s Republic of Treacle Mine Road.
If you’re a fan of the Discworld series by Sir Terry Pratchett, you’ll understand the importance of the revolution in the books. But in the real world, for those of you not in the know, Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007, and we wear the lilac on May 25th in tribute to Terry and to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s.
I can’t say much here that I haven’t already said about Pratchett in the past. He is my favorite author. I have learned more about life (how to live it better, how to see it from different angles and how to accept the fact that I do not believe in certain things the same way the people around me do) from his books than I could ever have learned on my own. They are that important to me. He spends a great deal of time on belief, the power of words and the undeniable ability a story has to change the past, present and future of just about anything. I get a little choked up when I think that one day he will leave us for that marvelous flat world that rides through space on the back of a great turtle and deny me any more of his life lessons. In him I have a god anchor.
So do it. Grab your towel, wear the lilac and celebrate. If not for Adams and Pratchett, than for the fact that there are dedicated silly days for the things readers love most of all- books.