Sadly, another National Towel Day has come and gone. A day unlike any other day, National Towel Day was created in 2001, not long after the untimely passing of the great Douglas Adams on 11 May, 2001. What does one do to celebrate the day? Easy. You carry a towel wherever you go to demonstrate your appreciation for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its author, Douglas Adams.
While I am late in my well wishes to all to have a wonderful day, I can tell you that I did, in fact, carry a towel through LaGuardia airport last night just to see if any closet H2G2 fans would openly identify themselves and give me that knowing nod to a fellow believer in the ‘importance of the towel’ when travelling. Sadly, only one person came up to me thanking me for the reminder of the day. Most everyone else at LaGuardia were carrying far more bizarre things so, unfortunately, for the majority of workers and travelers at the airport, the towel went completely unnoticed as I boarded the flight….but, on the upside, this ‘frood wannabe’ felt really safe for the entire journey home.
The importance of the towel, according to Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, chapter 3
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 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, 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 means 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 hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker 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.
Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass means know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy means really together guy; frood means really amazingly together guy.