In addition to today being Memorial Day, it is also Towel Day in honor of Douglas Adams. For those who don’t know who Douglas Adams is, he’s a British science-fiction writer and author of the funniest books ever written, The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Our readers will recognize those books as the inspiration for our name.
According to wikipedia, Towel day was first proposed by D Clyde Williamson a few days after Douglas Adams’ death on May 11, 2001. Chris Campbell and his friends then registered TowelDay.org, promoted it and the rest is history.
At this point, you might be asking yourself why a towel?
Great question and here’s the answer directly from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
A towel (…) 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 mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-tohand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a bush, but very ravenous); 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-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker 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 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.
Hence a phrase which has passed into hitch hiking 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.)
Kudos to TowelDay for typing all that up.
So grab a towel, toss down a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, and start hitching your way across the galaxy!
Thanks to Pragmagraphr for the awesome photo of him hitching a ride with his towel.
R.I.P. Douglas Adams.
Tags: towel day