The word "Towel" appears in the Hitchhiker books 85 times.
Arthur's towel is blue with yellow stars towel
Roosta's towel is an old flowery towel
Arthur's towel is a pink towel
Ford's towel is a blue and pink floral towel
Beneath that in Ford Prefect’s satchel were a few biros, a notepad, and a largish bath towel from Marks and Spencer. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels. A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.
you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit, etc., etc.
What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still know where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Hence a phrase which has passed into hitch-hiking slang, as in ‘Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.’
Nestling quietly on top of the towel in Ford Prefect’s satchel, the Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic began to wink more quickly.
‘You got a towel with you?’ said Ford suddenly to Arthur.
Everything was ready, everything was prepared. He knew where his towel was.
‘Let me introduce myself,’ the man said. ‘My name is Roosta, and this is my towel.’ ‘Hello, Roosta,’ said Zaphod. ‘Hello, towel,’ he added as Roosta held out to him a rather nasty old flowery towel. Not knowing what to do with it, he shook it by the corner. Outside the window, one of the huge, slug-like, gun-metal-green spaceships growled past.
Roosta sat on the edge of the desk doing some routine towel maintenance.
‘Here, suck this,’ said Roosta, offering Zaphod his towel.
‘Why,’ asked Zaphod suspiciously, ‘what’s in that?’ ‘Anti-depressants,’ said Roosta. ‘I’ve gone right off this towel, you know,’ said Zaphod handing it back.
He stood up and gathered his towel into a bag. He said: ‘Beeblebrox, I will now do the job I was sent here to do.’
Ford suddenly crouched down beside one of them. He pulled a corner of his towel out of his satchel and started to rub furiously at something.
He scampered over to another sarcophagus. A moment’s brisk towel work and he announced: ‘This one’s a dead hairdresser. Hoopy!’
‘Brilliant!’ he said. He tugged his towel out of his satchel and with a few deft knots transformed it into a bag.
Arthur closed his eyes and plunged his hand into the towelful of stones.
He sat back, nonplussed. He rooted around again in the knotted-up towel but there were no more letters. ‘You mean that’s it?’ said Ford. ‘That’s it.’ ‘Six by nine. Forty-two.’ ‘That’s it. That’s all there is.’
‘We could not even be said,’ replied Ford, ‘to be home and vigorously towelling ourselves off.’
‘This isn’t my towel,’ said Arthur, who was rummaging in his rabbit-skin bag. ‘Shhh,’ said Ford. He screwed his eyes up in concentration. ‘I had a Golgafrinchan jogging towel,’ continued Arthur, ‘it was blue with yellow stars on it. This isn’t it.’ ‘Shhh,’ said Ford again. He covered one eye and looked with the other. ‘This one’s pink,’ said Arthur, ‘it isn’t yours, is it?’ ‘I would like you to shut up about your towel,’ said Ford. ‘It isn’t my towel,’ insisted Arthur, ‘that is the point I am trying to . . .’
‘I realize that it is probably not important in the cosmic scale of things, it’s just odd, that’s all. A pink towel suddenly, instead of a blue one with yellow stars.’
Arthur. ‘I wasn’t talking about my towel,’ said Arthur. ‘We’ve established that that isn’t mine. It’s just that the bag into which I was putting the towel which is not mine is also not mine, though it is extraordinarily similar.
He laughed with pleasure at the discovery that the bag did in fact contain the olive oil and the retsina as well as a pair of cracked sunglasses, some sand-filled swimming trunks, some creased postcards of Santorini, a large and unsightly towel, some interesting stones, and various scraps of paper with the addresses of people he was relieved to think he would never meet again, even if the reason why was a sad one.
The unsteadiness of the building’s flight made him feel sick with fear, and after a short time he took the towel from out of his holdall and did something with it which once again justified its supreme position in the list of useful things to take with you when you hitch hike round the Galaxy. He put it over his head so he wouldn’t have to see what he was doing.
He desperately wanted to use his other hand to pull the towel back from his eyes, but it was holding the hold-all with the olive oil, the retsina and the postcards of Santorini, and he very much didn’t want to put it down.
He leaned around it and shook his head in an attempt to dislodge the towel. This seemed to provoke a sharp cry of some unfathomable emotion from the owner of the other hand. The towel was whipped from his head and he found his eyes peering into those of Ford Prefect.
He held on to his airline hold-all with its tin of Greek olive oil, its towel, its crumpled postcards of Santorini and its other odds and ends.
He emerged again a few seconds later carrying a battered and threadbare towel which he shoved into the bag.
He sat on a step, took from his satchel a bottle of that Ol’ Janx Spirit and a towel. He opened the bottle and wiped the top of it with the towel, which had the opposite effect to the one intended, in that the Ol’ Janx Spirit instantly killed off millions of the germs which had been slowly building up quite a complex and enlightened civilization on the smellier patches of his towel.
Half-read books and magazines nestled amongst piles of half-used towels.
He unpacked his towel and another few odd bits and pieces from the plastic bag he had acquired at the Port Brasta Mega-Market.
It sounded a bit muffled. There was a towel hanging over one of the speakers. He took down the towel.
He slid himself out of the maintenance hatchway which he had fashioned into a bunk for himself by disabling some of the noisier machinery in its vicinity and padding it with towels.
Deep in his greasy, smelly bunk, fashioned out of a maintenance hatchway, Ford Prefect slept among his towels, dreaming of old haunts.
They went to Arthur’s house in the West Country, shoved a couple of towels and stuff in a bag, and then sat down to do what every Galactic hitchhiker ends up spending most of his time doing.
Then a hot shower, then a cool one, then lying on a towel, on the bed again, drying in the air conditioning.
This was not in itself surprising, thought Ford as he pulled out his lightweight throwing towel.
He hurled the towel over the flying robot and caught it. Because of the various sensory protuberances with which the robot was festooned, it couldn’t manoeuvre inside the towel, and it just twitched back and forth without being able to turn and face its captor.
With one swift and practised movement, Ford reached under the towel with his No. 3 gauge prising tool and flipped off the small plastic panel on top of the robot which gave access to its logic circuits.
The robot which Ford had got trapped under his towel was not, at the moment, a happy robot.
The towel was still covering all of its sensory mechanisms, but Ford had now got its logic circuits exposed.
Ford pulled out a small length of wire that had been threaded into the towel.
Ford quickly stood up and whisked the towel away.
‘No,’ said Harl, reaching for his handkerchief and not finding one. ‘Excuse me,’ he said, ‘but this gets me so excited.’ Ford handed him his towel.
‘Kill!’ shouted Ford. He shouted it at his towel. The towel leapt up out of Harl’s hands.
He picked up his towel and ran cheerfully for the door.
His seventh birthday party, being given his first towel.
Half a dozen guys, some towels, a handful of highly sophisticated digital devices, and most importantly a lot of dreams.
Colin’s world went unexpectedly dark as Ford’s towel suddenly enveloped him.
The towel was slung over Colin. Ford was hanging from the towel, gripping its seams. Other hitchhikers had seen fit to modify their towels in exotic ways, weaving all kinds of esoteric tools and utilities and even computer equipment into their fabric. Ford was a purist. He liked to keep things simple. He carried a regular towel from a regular domestic soft furnishings shop. It even had a kind of blue and pink floral pattern despite his repeated attempts to bleach and stone wash it. It had a couple of pieces of wire threaded into it, a bit of flexible writing stick, and also some nutrients soaked into one of the corners of the fabric so he could suck it in an emergency, but otherwise it was a simple towel you could dry your face on.
He was hanging from a towel in mid-air and a slug was preparing to fire rockets at him.
Ford tried not to sweat because he could feel his grip on the seams of his towel slipping.
His towel fell past and he grabbed at it and caught it.
It didn’t mean he was going to be able to break the window here by wrapping his fist in his towel and punching.
Another completely unlooked for result was that Ford Prefect, stranded thirteen storeys up a heavily armoured building armed with nothing but a towel and a credit card, was nevertheless able to clamber through a supposedly rocket-proof window to safety.
Can turn a whole ecosystem into some kind of helpless thrashing service industry, handing out hot towels and drinks to passers-by.
‘This do?’ said Ford, handing him his towel.
After they had spent nearly two hours prancing about doing increasingly foolish things with a medium-sized floral patterned bath towel, they had not managed to get even one of the great beasts thundering and pounding past them to do so much as glance casually in their direction.
They sat down, exhausted and defeated, and started to criticize each other’s technique with the towel.
‘You need a bigger towel.’
its perky attention. ‘Now!’ exclaimed Old Thrashbarg at last. ‘Now you may work them with the towel!’ Arthur advanced with Ford’s towel, moving the way the hunter-matadors did, with a kind of elegant strut that did not come at all naturally to him. But now he knew what to do and that it was right. He brandished and flicked the towel a few times, to be ready for the moment, and then he watched.
Old Thrashbarg twitched the bird, the Beast looked up, tossed its head, and then, just as its head was coming down again, Arthur flourished the towel in the Beast’s line of sight. It tossed its head again in bemusement, and its eyes followed the movement of the towel.
With strange sort of sweeping movements of the towel, Arthur kept drawing the Beast’s attention this way and that – always downwards.