A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … Oh wait! Wrong galaxy.
A long time ago, Douglas Adams wrote about a galaxy, in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He died of a heart attack at age 49 on May 11, 2001. He was cremated in Santa Barbara, Californiaand his ashes interred in London, where a Service of Celebration was held. Douglas’ fans wanted to organize a wake in his honor. Needing some time to pull the remembrance together, Towel Day was organized two weeks after his death, on May 25th. (This date also seems to have relevance to the book, but here I have to admit that somehow I’ve missed reading this one.) The first Towel Day was such a success that it became an annual event.
There aren’t any real “rules” to celebrate Towel Day with. It can be any towel, any color, or any size. The important part is to be conspicuous with it. Wear it around your neck, wrapped around your head, or swing it in the air over your head. I was amazed as I scanned through the website (http://www.towelday.org/) at the HUNDREDS of global celebrations held. Several of the events mentioned collecting towels and donating them to animal shelters in remembrance of Douglas Adams. If you wish to donate to a cause (NOT a requirement to celebrate the day), two suggestions were ‘Save the Rhino’ or ‘The Gorilla Organization’ (formerly the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund), which were two charities that Douglas Adams actively supported.
And where did the ‘towel’ part come in, you ask? From the book, of course. Here’s an excerpt of the book, explaining the importance of towels for a hitchhiker. I’m off; I have a towel to go get. And, I’ll be remedying my reading lack in the near future. Next towel day, I’ll be prepared to celebrate in style!
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 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.