The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Standing In Line

, , , , , | Friendly | January 24, 2020

(The year is 1987. “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” has just been published. Douglas Adams is on a book tour and is making a stop at a bookstore in Venice, California. My friends, big Adams fans, decide to go and I go along. I should point out that I have never read anything by Douglas Adams. I have actually made a bit of a light-hearted vow not to, not because I don’t like him but because ALL of my friends are into him and quote him extensively, and my college freshman orientation was themed around “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Thus, I have essentially absorbed the books by osmosis, know the plot backward and forward, and can quote it just as easily as they can. I have just never read the books. We get to the bookstore, they get their copies of Dirk Gently, and we stand in line for the autograph. As expected, the line is quite long. We finally get to the front, he signs my friends’ books, and he holds out his hand to me to take my book — Diane Duane’s “The Door Into Shadow” — to sign.)

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t have a book for you to sign.” *shows the book is not his*

Douglas Adams: *staring at me quizzically*

Me: “I haven’t actually read anything of yours, but my friends love your work.”

Douglas Adams: “And you stood in line for two hours anyway?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Douglas Adams: “What are you, English?”

(I suddenly realized that telling an author to his face that I’ve never read their work is not exactly the nicest thing, but he didn’t seem to be bothered at all. We laughed at me queueing up for hours and we moved along. I fully expected to show up as a character in one of his future books as the guy who just stands in line. Since then, a friend has gotten me a lovely leatherbound copy of the entire Hitchhiker’s series and it sat on my shelf for a year before I finally broke down and read it.)

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