Forty-two

Shared by Kathy Shannon on March 6, 2019

“O Deep Thought computer," he said, "the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us...." he paused, "The Answer."
"The Answer?" said Deep Thought. "The Answer to what?"
"Life!" urged Fook.
"The Universe!" said Lunkwill.
"Everything!" they said in chorus.
Deep Thought paused for a moment's reflection.
"Tricky," he said finally.
"But can you do it?"
Again, a significant pause.
"Yes," said Deep Thought, "I can do it."
"There is an answer?" said Fook with breathless excitement.
"Yes," said Deep Thought. "Life, the Universe, and Everything. There is an answer. But, I'll have to think about it."
...
Fook glanced impatiently at his watch.
“How long?” he said.
“Seven and a half million years,” said Deep Thought.
Lunkwill and Fook blinked at each other.
“Seven and a half million years...!” they cried in chorus.
“Yes,” declaimed Deep Thought, “I said I’d have to think about it, didn’t I?"

[Seven and a half million years later.... Fook and Lunkwill are long gone, but their descendants continue what they started]

. . . Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children. . .

". . . I don't think," added Deep Thought. "that you're going to like it."

"Doesn't matter!" said Phouchg. "We must know it! Now!"
"Now?" inquired Deep Thought.
"Yes! Now..."
"All right," said the computer, and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.
"You're really not going to like it," observed Deep Thought.
"Tell us!"
"All right," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question..."
"Yes..!"
"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep Thought.
"Yes...!"
"Is..." said Deep Thought, and paused.
"Yes...!"
"Is..."
"Yes...!!!...?"
"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.” 

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Dad loved to read science fiction and was a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fan. He used "forty-two" as a catchphrase for anything odd or ironic that might have occurred as a short-cut to say "Oh well, that's life." 

"Forty-two," he would say.

Dad was a frequent visitor to a restaurant in Huntsville called Nothing But Noodles. When I say frequented, I mean that the people at the restaurant loved him and mom, knew them by name, came to sit with them when they came in, and always brought them special food and desserts that were not even on the menu. 

When I was in Huntsville I obviously went with them and at that time, the owner had another odd habit of plying dad with mangos because there had been some conversation between them about how "American" mangos were nothing like the mangos from his country and he wanted dad to experience the "real" fruit. I ended up with a bag of mangos from one of our dinner visits and ended up making a mango pie. Slightly off subject, but it shows the level of interaction with dad and the folks at that restaurant.

Noodles was set up where you would order at the counter and afterward, you were provided a wooden number to stick at your table so they could locate you with your food. Dad would often collect these wooden numbers by inadvertently (or so he said) taking them home in his pocket. He would bring them back in batches, which was possible because they went to that restaurant all of the time. But I think the truth was he was laying in wait for "his number." 

"I just need to get 42," he would say.

Finally, one day, it was granted to him. I was not in Huntsville at the time but he called me, all excited, to let me know he had finally gotten the little wooden number 42. He was so inspired that he framed it and hung it up in the garage.

We disassembled the house in Alabama in preparation for the move to Florida in 2016 - a major downsize operation. I did not grab that little item from the garage. I now wish I had it, just because. 

"Forty-two," dad.

Mozart Clarinet Concerto part 1 (Martin Fröst)

Shared by Kathy Shannon on March 4, 2019

Dad played this particular Mozart concerto on his clarinet often and as recently as 2017. He had also discovered the amazing musicality of clarinetist Marin Fröst within the last 18 months and liked to listen to Fröst daily because it made him happy. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVXFONkLPok

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