I first met you in the 8th grade. At the time, you were just a book report book. The kind I’d dutifully choose weeks in advance, then forget about until the night before, when I’d frantically skim for enough information to get through a one-page summary. I had no idea you’d be any different, but I started reading you on the way home from the library, and I couldn’t put you down. I finished that very night. And, suddenly, you weren’t just a book. You were a lifelong love affair.
Not everyone understood our relationship, especially at first. I’d talk about how much I loved Douglas Adams, and my friends would say, “Who?” I would make references to “42” in conversation and be greeted with blank stares. But then, slowly but surely, I began to find others who loved you as much as I did. As I got older, I had all sorts of friends who knew the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, and that breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, was the best way to round out your morning after doing six impossible things. Wherever I was, Hitchhiker’s Guide references led to instant camaraderie.
I’ve always kept a copy on hand of all five books in your increasingly inaccurately named trilogy, to find certain scenes, look up specific quotes, or simply to flip through at random. On many a bad day, you’ve managed to make me smile.
Of course, there have been rough times, too. Like the 2005 movie. I won’t pretend that didn’t hurt at least a little. Parts of it, I actually enjoyed! Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent! A Busby Berkeley-style song and dance number with dolphins! But, all-in-all, it just wasn’t right. It could have been so much more. And then, there was the sixth book, written eight years after Douglas Adams’ death. I do my best to pretend that never happened.
But, even though there have been those problems, I want you to know that I don’t blame you for any of it. The movie and the sixth book . . . they weren’t you. They looked a little like you, but they didn’t have your spirit. They didn’t have that clever, bizarre uniqueness that made me fall in love with you, all those years ago, and that makes me continue to love you to this day.
None of those other things matter, though. As I said, they aren’t you. To me, you will always be just five books and a cheaply made British miniseries. Let the rest have their mediocre movies and their posthumous sequels. It won’t change anything. They could make a hundred of each. But, my well-worn copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will always be the same, and they can never take that away from me.
So long and thanks for all the fish,