Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Douglas Adams Connection

I find myself the reluctant collector of late-talkers.

Knowing that LO is still showing himself disinclined to speak (much), people have been alerting me to any number of late-talkers who have gone on to have brilliant careers, often in the sciences. Some late-talkers you may or may not know:

  • Einstein (which, to be honest, didn't make me feel much better)
  • Benito Mussolini (ditto, for different reasons)
  • Richard Feynman (who apparently also maintained an experimental laboratory in his home as a child)
  • Nobel-Prizewinning economist Gary Becker
  • G. Gordon Liddy (shudder)
  • pianist Arthur Rubinstein
While learning about each and every one of these late talkers provided me with a moment's sense that perhaps late-talking is proof of future greatness/incredible awfulness, none of them really helped me to feel more comfortable with my long wait for a conversation with my son.

On Sunday, however, I bought myself a single volume copy of Douglas Adams' famous five book trilogy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I have had a yen to re-read these books, and not just because the words Don't Panic are printed on the cover in large friendly letters. (A message I most definitely need to hear these days.) I've been thinking about Hitchhiker's Guide quite a bit because as I get older and older, I appreciate the wit and intelligence of these books even more than I loved their incredible silliness as a teenager.

My new copy of the entire Guide, had a short introduction by another of my favorite modern wits, Neil Gaiman. In this introduction, Gaiman let slip the fact that Douglas Adams was a self-described "strange child" who did not learn to speak until he was four.

And with that sentence, suddenly everything fell into place.

My son has something in common with the man who wrote the quotation J and I put on our wedding invitation: "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."

In just two years, LO already shares an experience with the man who created the most wondrous defense of procrastination ever written: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

G-d willing, LO will be something like the writer who recognized that "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."

And of course, perhaps LO will be the one to finally come up with the ultimate question whose answer is forty-two.

We can but hope.

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