Douglas Adams May Be The Funniest Person of All Time

Quote of the Day:

“A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.” –William James

TB’s going through another little bout of blog-block, and this is something you should be very thankful for. For today I reprint in its entirety a funny story I stumbled upon. It is an excerpt from Douglas Adams’  The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time. I literally laughed until I cried. If you don’t think this is all that funny….well, to each his own I suppose. There are many different forms of humor and I like most all of them, but when Adams developed his unique subset of blank stareology he created the template for all that I personally find to define comedic genius. Enjoy…..


Cookies by Douglas Adams (author: “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”)

This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong.

I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table.

I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind.

Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase.

It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.

Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies.

You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know. . . But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn’t do anything, and thought, what am I going to do?

In the end I thought, nothing for it, I’ll just have to go for it, and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, that settled him. But it hadn’t because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie.

Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice . . .” I mean, it doesn’t really work.

We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away.

Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back. A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies.

The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the punch line.

(Excerpted from “The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time” by Douglas Adams)


About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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7 Responses to Douglas Adams May Be The Funniest Person of All Time

  1. larry says:

    The Aristocrats!

  2. Jessie Lou says:

    Very entertaining. Maybe that is another reason we left the motherland. I, for one, would not take kindly to someone eating my cookies. I seem to remember throwing a fit when someone ate my ice cream out of TB’s freezer – did not care for it a bit. Where is the common courtesy please?

  3. ZEEK says:

    Ask BW Buzz what happens when you eat Zeek’s half of a leftover Subway while watching MNF at Peppertree Apts!!!!!

  4. Harmony says:

    Quite the delightful twist at the end. I’m thinking of similar situations, where I had at first thought I was being victimized, only to later realize that I was (in fact) the torturer. Such realizations are both frightening and satisfying at the same time. This made my day, thanks for sharing it!

  5. Madd Dawg says:

    British humour at its best

    • I find it even funnier when I read it in a faux-Brit accent.

      BTW, I read this week that back around the time of the Revolution, people in England had an accent that sounded more like modern Americans than modern Brits. “They” say the common Englishman didn’t begin to take on their current dialect until the 1800’s when it came in fashion to imitate the blue bloods and that it was the English accent that thusly changed and not, as I always assumed the Americans whose accent evolved.

  6. Elmira says:

    Your’s is the ininlltgeet approach to this issue.

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