Friday, July 30, 2010

Ripping off Douglas Adams

"The ships hung in the sky in much the same way bricks don't." 

That is my favorite of my many favorite lines from the late, great Douglas Adams' increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy. The imagery elicited by those 13 words caught my fancy and hasn't let go yet. 

I've been a voracious reader since I was very young. My mother used to yell at me to put down my Richard Scarry book and "Go to sleep!" I would simply turn off my reading light, hang halfway off the side of the bed and read by my red-and-yellow butterfly nightlight. I read the back of every cereal box on the kitchen table. I read junk mail. I attempted to read our set of encyclopedias, but my need to bring the rest of the family in on the fun - "Daddy, did you know that ..." during a crucial moment in the baseball game - was met with what I shall call resistance. 

Stumbling upon a word whose meaning I didn't know or whose pronunciation was unknown to me couldn't be borne. The pronunciation of the word "croquet" - from the Richard Scarry book, incidentally - was difficult for me to remember, for some reason. Of course, I was 6 and Q's were weird.

You see, I love words. I love that when put together well or weirdly, words make me see and grasp and feel and understand.

There's magic in words, which is good because of something else I learned from Douglas Adams: 

Reality is frequently inaccurate.