Before leaving us in 2001 at the tragically ripe young age of 49, writer Douglas Adams bestowed the much beloved Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series upon us (a trilogy in five parts). And though it was the story of a confused Earthling named Arthur Dent and his unintentional adventures among space aliens, starships, impossible situations, cosmically awful poetry, and high-tech gadgetry, Adams wrote that even the low-tech towel had a very important place in the hierarchy of things that should always be carried upon one’s person at all times.
“A towel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 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-boggingly 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.” — Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
In honor of Douglas Adams’ contributions to the world (not just with his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, but with projects from writing for Doctor Who to collaborating with Monty Python to wildlife conservation to naming a Pink Floyd album and beyond), we celebrate Towel Day every May 25th. But while we’re at it, why don’t we have a Towel Week? Seems perfectly reasonable. Happy Towel Week, everyone!
Here’s an interesting conversation between Douglas Adams and a dark-haired Michio Kaku in 1990 about the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.