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In Honor of Towel Day: A Mini-Guide to Other Essential Items You Should Never Hitchhike the Galaxy Without

2013 May 24
by Jessica Miller
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Hello fellow Earthlings.

Did you know that Douglas Adams, the man who wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, has become such an inspiration to intergalactic travelers that creatures across the many galaxies celebrate a very special day once a year in his honor? In fact, that very day happens to be tomorrow.

douglas adams

Douglas Adams, picture courtesy of Jill Furmanovsky

May 25th is the annual celebration of Towel Day. All across the universe, fans of Douglas Adams proudly carry a towel about with them.

The-Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-GalaxyWhy a towel, you ask? As we know from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the towel is just about the most massively useful thing any interstellar hitchhiker can carry. The towel has great convenient and practical value, including being something to sleep upon, something to wrap around yourself for warmth, and even something to dry off with when one has gotten a bit too soggy. Its true value, though, is more psychological!

When a hitchhiker comes across a regular, boring planetary-dependent creature, if that smart hitchhiker happens to have their towel with them, most strags (nonhitchhikers) will just assume that the hitchhiker set out prepared like the galaxy’s smartest boy scout. It can be assumed that the traveler had all other essential items, like a toothbrush, soap, compass, ball of string, or even space suit originally packed, and if one item just happened to be lost along the way, seeing the towel, most creatures will be happy to lend a “replacement” essential to the hitchhiker.

Aside from the utterly irreplaceable towel, the intergalactic hitchhiker should never leave home without a few more important objects:

  • First is the electronic thumb. This device is a short black rod that can be used to hail passing ships to ask for a ride. No hitchhiker should ever be without. Standing on a planetary surface and waving one’s towel above one’s head to flag down a ship does not always work, after all. However, the closeness of the passing ship and their willingness to pick up a hitchhiker also have to be taken into consideration, so even with the electronic thumb a ride is not guaranteed … but it is far more likely!

    babelfish_schemaAnother device that the savvy hitchhiker should invest in is the Babel Fish. This small yellow fish is an odd little species, unique in the universe, that happens to feed on brain wave energy. Why on earth (or Antares or Hollop) would someone want one? Well, when placed inside one’s ear canal (or whatever the equivalent may happen to be in your species), the fish absorbs the incoming frequencies and signals and basically spits out a decoded signal to the speech-controlling portion of the brain. In essence, this little fish allows an intergalactic hitchhiker to understand any language spoken around them. A most useful little parasite.

    Lastly, for the slightly inexperienced or nervous hitchhiker, one should never leave their home planet without the Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses. This brand of eyewear has been specifically designed to help travelers develop a relaxed attitude in dangerous situations, something that quite possibly could occur when one hitchhikes the galaxies. At the first sign of danger these glasses turn completely dark preventing the wearer from seeing anything that could cause alarm — something that might bring comfort when one accidentally hails the wrong passing ship.

    don't panicSo tomorrow, on May 25th, when you leave your own humble abode, don’t forget to grab your towel, and if you happen to fancy an adventure across the many galaxies, I suggest you pack these few other suggested essentials, as well. Tell me fellow hitchhikers, have I missed anything?

    – Jessica Miller, currently  reading Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz and rereading Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion by Neil Gaiman

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2 Responses
  1. Dawn Rutherford permalink
    May 24, 2013

    I gently mocked my boyfriend for packing a travel towel when we went to Grenada last year (we were staying with friends). But then I dislocated my shoulder and there wasn’t one sling for sale on the entire island. Guess who ended up wearing that towel all week? I just bought my own and am greatly comforted by it ;)

  2. May 29, 2013

    Proof! – were any required.

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