Today marks the tenth anniversary of a world bereft of the wit and wisdom of Douglas Adams, so make sure you know where your towel is.
(Technically, i guess the world was bereft of the wit and wisdom of Douglas Adams for most of the period of recorded and unrecorded history that passed before he was born. And i don’t know how funny or insightful he was as a toddler or anything. But you know what i mean.)
Douglas Adams died at 49, which is tragic in the general sense that people all eventually die, and especially tragic in the specific sense of 49 being way too young for most people to die, and particularly tragic from the perspective of how perilously close to that age i am. I don’t want to talk about that, though.
What i want to talk about is how back in the day, i was lucky enough to be able to interview Douglas Adams for a profile piece in an alternative weekly paper i was working for at the time. The profile itself was fairly nondescript in the end (being annoyingly obliged to serve as a kind of combo review/interview slanted toward readers who might never have heard of Douglas Adams). However, the phone interview i did with him remains a memorable conversation. Not just for the content, but for the context — because as obvious as it should be from any of his writings that Adams was a treat to talk to, what doesn’t come across unless you actually had a chance to talk to him is how completely, awkwardly, mundanely normal Douglas Adams seemed to be. Not a bored iconoclast railing aginst mundanity; not a neo-intellectual constantly expressing a general impatience with the world of lesser minds. Just a guy with ideas, and a love of language and absurdism and irony that inspired him to do something no one had ever done before.
There’s a lesson in there that i’m pretty sure i still haven’t learned, but it’s nice to be reminded of it.