… if you see otherwise ordinary-looking people carrying towels everywhere they go. They are simply celebrating Towel Day, a holiday created in 2001 to honor the life of the late Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
As Adams explains in his most famous book:
A towel … 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 … wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly 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.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) 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.’
I decorated a special towel just for the occasion:
At least one of my students will be utterly delighted. The rest will think I am crazy, but they think that anyway. I’m hoping to teach the Hitchhiker’s Guide next year if time allows. I have the books; I just have to make the time.