Yeah, I'm posting this about a year after the fact. I just read The Salmon of Doubt, was reminded of this little essay, and wanted to post it for you guys. I considered putting it under Douglas Adams, but that node's been closed, so I decided to put it under this date with some of the other tributes. If you can think of a better place to put this, let me know, and I'll move it there.

Here We Are, Standing Dead in this Desolate Five-Star Restaurant

“This,” Max Quordlepleen said, “really is the absolute end, the final chilling desolation, in which the whole majestic sweep of creation becomes extinct. This ladies and gentlemen is the proverbial ‘it’.”

It was a wretched night at Milliways. To the extent that it could ever be said to be a wretched night at Milliways, to the extent that it could ever be said to be a night at Milliways.

Ford Prefect clutched his bottle of Ol‘ Janx Spirit and rolled his eyes at Arthur. “And yet I distinctly remember saying to you ‘The world’s about to end.’”

Arthur Dent, having lost his bathrobe but found his tea, seemed more concerned with gazing into Fenchurch’s limpid eyes than the end of the Universe. Arthur had had quite enough of contemplating the end of the Universe, thank you very much, and was entirely prepared to ignore Ford for the remainder of the evening.

“After this,” said Max from the stage, framed all around by a computer-enhanced rendering of the Ultimate End of Life, the Universe, and Everything, “there is nothing. Void. Emptiness. Oblivion. Absolute nothing ...”

Ford sighed, kicked back the remainder of his fourteenth Ol‘ Janx Spirit, and prepared to slide beneath the table into oblivion.

He was stopped just as his head was about to clear the lavishly upholstered seat cushion. The hand stopping him belonged to Zaphod Beeblebrox, ex-President of the Galaxy. Zaphod’s other hand was busy doing something to Trillian, and his other hand was patiently nursing his other head with a Double-Strength Arcturan Mega-Gin.

“Hey, kid,” Zaphod said, pulling Ford to an upright position. Well, the most nearly upright possible after fourteen Ol‘ Janx Spirits and a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster. “Have another drink, don’t let the monkey get you down. You’re beginning to sound like Marvin.”

“I resent that,” creaked Marvin, the Paranoid Android. “You can’t possibly begin to imagine the extent of my depression. Your brains just can’t fathom the depths.”

“That is,” continued Marvin despondently, “I would resent it if I weren’t just so terribly depressed.”

“Oh, switch off,” said Zaphod, turning to Ford. “Anyway, kid,” he grinned, “Doug is – just this guy, you know?” He toasted, sloshing a bit, threw his right-hand head back and took a long gulp of Mega-Gin.

Ford groaned, rolled over backwards, and ordered another Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.

Somewhere, a Vogon commander pushed a little red button.

There was a terrible ghastly silence.

There was a terrible ghastly noise.

There was a terrible ghastly silence.


Don’t panic. The above is simply my (mostly harmless, I hope) tribute to that amazingly outstanding frood, Douglas Adams. I didn’t hear about his death until Sunday evening, when I was talking to one of my friends online. At first I was sure he was joking; but then I looked over at, and saw for myself. The man who taught me how to fly, and showed me the deeper meaning in a towel, who gave dolphins their due and brought the world Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters, Forty-Two, Infinite Improbability Drive, and the Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon Six, not to mention Dirk Gently, had gone forever. In his own words, “The lights went out in his eyes for absolutely the very last time ever.”

In short, Douglas Adams really knew where his towel was.

I’ve read the Hitchhiker series a number of times, since seventh grade. Every time I find something new . . .

It came as a shock to many people, I’m sure, myself included. To die of a heart attack at only 49 (we can be thankful, anyway, that it wasn’t 42), in the midst of yet another project, with so much joy left to spread to the world. Reminds me of a passage from the Introduction to the Hitchhiker’s Guide:

“. . . one girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything. Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terribly stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost forever.”

Sigh. Terribly stupid catastrophe indeed.

At work today, we flew a towel at half-mast from a bamboo pole.

All this leaves only one thing left to say:

So long, and thanks for all the books.

. . . I think I need a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.