"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker 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 mini raft 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 mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); 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 hitch hiker 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. " The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy, Douglas Adams
On my quest to find the question to the answer, 42, which happens to be my age...I reflected on this quest...and was reminded of the quest when I went to Home Plus today and had a thought occur to my mind. This thought, which to anyone in the west...would laugh...because it is something you have plenty of...the full size bath towel.
This little bit of information I will share with you...if you ever come to South Korea (or anywhere in Asia...just to be safe), never assume you can just pick something up. If it is a comfort item you think you will readily find...pack it and take it with you. However...this seemingly ordinary advice from my bible...The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy about always taking a towel with you was ignored. I after all was not seeking to leave the planet...just my country.
When I arrived in South Korea, and was rounding up the necessary items...one does this as they settle in...I was asking for a towel. "A towel...of course we have towels." and I was shown a towel that in the states would be known as a hand towel...I laughed thinking this was a mistake.
That was in January. Today, getting back to the persistent thought in my mind...of if I was a towel...where would I be...and of all places the grocery section of Home Plus (Korea's Walmart) I looked down on a bottom shelf and saw full sized bath towels...and about peed with joy.
Since I am also 42, and have adored Douglas Adams since I was a child...I believe now that I shall have to find a new copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy...my favorite Trilogy in Five Parts. A reminder to all...Don't Panic.