Saturday, May 25, 2013


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"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have." -- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I've often described my teenage years in a way that might make one think I was filled with more adolescent angst than all the characters in all the John Hughes' movies combined.  This would, in fact, be mostly accurate.  On the other hand, those same years are also memorable for being the time period during which I was introduced to a number of people, places, and things that have remained my obsessions interests all these years later -- Chicago Cubs baseball, Agatha Christie, Doctor Who, the Beach Boys to name a few.  At the top of the list is my favorite author, the late Douglas Adams.

Marvin the Paranoid Android
My older brother is responsible for bringing both Doctor Who and Douglas Adams into my consciousness, perhaps not surprisingly.  Adams is the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and all the subsequent books in that series), as well as Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, the under-appreciated Last Chance to See, a great book about endangered species, and more..  In 1994 I loaned my then-boyfriend my copy of Mostly Harmless, the fifth book in the Hitchhiker Trilogy.  (Yes, it's really called the fifth book in the trilogy.)  Boyfriend never seemed to get around to reading the book or returning it to me and I finally had to marry him to get it back.  Nineteen years later he still hasn't read the damn thing...

Douglas Adams left us much too soon, dying suddenly of a heart attack on May 11, 2001 at the age of 49.  I still mourn not only the writer but all the wonderfully quirky, witty, bizarre, and hilarious books that could have been.  I know I'm not alone because two weeks after his death fans celebrated the first Towel Day, a way to pay tribute to the man and his works, specifically by walking around with a towel.  Non-fans or non-readers of his books scratch their heads at folks who look like the cast of The Big Bang Theory parading into restaurants with Egyptian cotton bath towels draped around their necks like fur stoles.  Fans, on the other hand, immediately recognize kindred spirits.  (For the section of Hitchhiker related to towels, check out The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Towel here.)

Towel Day is usually a solitary event for me, with time spent reading my favorite passages.  This year I decided to pull the family into my celebration.  I originally intended to knit each person a "Don't Panic" hand towel from the pattern by Katie's Knits.  (Free pattern can be found here.)   My dexterity still isn't what it used to be and I quickly found the towel very time consuming considering I had to make four of them.  I finished up a small towel for myself and looked for another option.  (For the non-fans, "Don't Panic" are the words printed on the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in large friendly letters).

Washcloths seemed more doable and I quickly found a great pattern at  In the center is the number 42, which is of course the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.  I managed to quickly knit them up for my mother, sister (the Inmates' Uncle Chester), and the Inmates themselves.  (The free pattern can be found here.)

Professional cake decorator I'm not.
For refreshments I opted for a heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie with golden yellow frosting to honor the starship Heart of Gold.

Hitchhiker inspired wrapping paper,
courtesy of Google images.
And we'll finish off the celebration tonight with a viewing of the 2005 movie.  I'm actually not a fan of the film, but while my son has seen the original television series and read the first book with me, he hasn't seen this screen version.  I can almost guarantee he won't like it either.

I had the privilege of meeting Douglas Adams at a book signing in 1993.  I sat in a crowd of people, most with towels, and listened to him read from Hitchhiker.  I then nervously took my paperback copy of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency up to the table for his signature.  He scribbled his name and as I took the book I wanted to say something witty and profound.  Instead I stammered, "Thank you for everything you've written."  He looked at me and smiled broadly and said, "Thank you very much."

Twenty years later I still can't think of anything better to say.  Mr. Adams, thank you for everything you've written.


Anonymous said...

I remember that book signing very well.

ganymeder said...

What a great post! I too am a slow knitter, but maybe I can work up to the dishtowels!

I envy that you got to meet him. I never got the chance, and I would have loved to meet the author and person I admire so much.

Happy Towel Day.

L.G. Keltner said...

Thanks for participating! It must have been amazing to meet Douglas Adams. I sadly never got the chance. I was sad when I heard about his death, and I never got over the fact that he'd never be writing anything again.

My youngest son was born on May 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of Douglas Adams' death. When he gets old enough, I'll make sure he understands the significance of Towel Day.

Beverly Fox said...

I agree, this was a great post. I'd say you did him proud with all your celebrations. And thanks for sharing that towel pattern- I'm gonna try it!

Samuel Bledsoe said...

I wish I could knit some hand towels. . .
This is a great post. Good job.