I read voraciously as a child, but it was only a few months ago that I finally got around to reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, primarily because my brother really liked that series and at that time in my life anything my brother liked was automatically super lame in my books. (I have since come around, and I quite like a lot of things that he also likes, including nanoparticles, his girlfriend, and the notebooks, bits of fun paper, and dessert-shaped erasers he brings back for me from his world travels.) Anyway, I had had enough of my literate friends haranguing me thrice-weekly with loud exclamations of “You’ve NEVER READ the Hitchhiker BOOKS?!” so I set out on a mission to read the whole series.
I enjoyed the books a lot, because they’re funny and clever and witty in that dry, British way. There’s also something bittersweet about discovering a style of writing you really love long after the author has died, because you can’t truly enjoy it because you’re always aware in the back of your mind that after these books are over, that’s it, there aren’t any more (at least until someone comes along who is arrogant enough to write a new book to go along with what is already a beloved series of books, and that arrogant person somehow gets the blessing of the writer’s estate … but I suppose that’s a whole other issue for a whole other blog post) but you also feel like you really should savour it, for exactly the same reason.
One of the bits I loved most in one of the Hitchhiker books was the character of Wonko The Sane, who decides at one point (after seeing instructions on a package of toothpicks that outline how to USE the toothpicks) that every single other person on the planet has gone completely insane, and proceeds to build an insane asylum for all the crazy people. The gag is that the INSIDE of the “asylum” as it were is everything OUTSIDE his house in California, where he lives with his wife and which he refers to as The Outside of the Asylum. It’s a little bit complicated, spatially, but I think he’s a great character because who doesn’t have days where they feel like poor old Wonko, where you feel like nobody else is making any sense WHATSOEVER.
I’ll admit to having one of those days today. I certainly don’t claim to have it all figured out in my own life, but every once in a while there is a period of a few hours where it seems perfectly clear what is wrong in everybody ELSE’S life, and I become convinced that not only is everyone just plain doing it wrong, if only they would listen to ME, their situations would improve immensely and they’d be so overjoyed they’d bake me a cake and throw me a parade, but more like a parade FOR me, rather than one FEATURING me, because the idea of being featured in a parade makes me clammy with terror. I don’t know where this feeling comes from (the certainty that everyone else is crazy, not the clamminess) and it never lasts long enough for me to quite get around to setting up my five cent psychiatric consultation service a la Lucy from Charlie Brown, but I swear during these moments that if I had beach-front property in California (or anywhere in the world, for that matter) I’m not sure I’d be able to resist the urge to wash my hands of the world and retreat to my sanctuary away from all the crazy people.