Look, it’s Towel Day!
You see, just as there are some aspects of my sexuality that don’t involve nerdiness, so there are some aspects of my nerdiness that don’t involve sexuality. And nearly all of those aspects involve Douglas Adams.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy changed my life when I was 12. My brother had gotten it out of the library, and I picked it up thinking it was non-fiction. It turned out instead to be evidence that life could be silly and smart at the same time, a lesson my sad, serious adolescent self sorely needed. I inhaled the Hitchhiker books and started hunting for more.
Then Last Chance to See changed my life when I was 19. It’s the reason I chose cognitive science for my undergraduate degree. Because, DA wrote, “You can’t help but try and follow an animal’s thought processes, and you can’t help, when faced with an animal like a three ton rhinoceros with nasal passages bigger than its brain, but fail.”
When he died, I emailed a friend I’ve known since the 6th grade. This kid sat right behind me in class, and I passed the Hitchhiker books to him when I was done. (Then he went to MIT and worked in the Media Lab and fucking MET Douglas Adams and I will never, never recover from the injustice of that. Jerk.) Anyway, when DA died, I emailed this friend. He answered, “…i did know. and i thought, i wonder where emily is. she would understand. ever since you forced those books on me, he’s been one of the foremost influences in my life.”
Dood me too.
While I was in England for the Oxford Lindy Exchange, I went to Highgate to visit DA’s grave – in fact (and I feel like I’ve been caught doing something totally ridiculous, like dancing around my office in my underwear and sneakers) the picture up at the top there is a photo of the biros (see ch 21 of h2g2) folks have left there as a tribute. When I saw them, I wished I had brought one.
It gives me a bizarre kind of relief to know that the one and only thing I do well is just about the one and only thing DA didn’t: write about women. Trillian, Fenchurch, and Kate Schechter are three brave attempts, but each reveals more about what their creator didn’t understand than about what he did. It seems he couldn’t quite get into what it was like to be a woman – and fair enough; god knows I can’t get into what it’s like to be male. I think I get close sometimes but… never quite.
I’ll be carrying a sage green microfiber towel with me today. I walked the dog and my towel to the coffee shop and back this morning
and wondered what I would write about Douglas Adams, what I could quote or link to to explain the role he has in my life. How to exemplify being silly and smart at the same time.
I decided on this because it’s funny, it involves sex, and it exposes just how heavily I lift my prose style from DA. (Ctril+f terribly complicated)
Happy Towel Day everybody!