It's funny, I do think I've put more consistent effort into commemorating this fictional holiday over the years than any state or religious ones, including the ones I celebrate. Terry Pratchett did have something brilliantly memetic on his hands in the Glorious 25th of May, I wonder if he knew -- I'm going to be out with friends tomorrow, but hope to get some lilac one way or another. I wonder if non-Discworld fans (or less passionate Discworld fans) wonder what the big deal is about the 25th of May, if it's just a general fannish gesture of dedication or a way to indicate you like something that doesn't normally have a lot of logos or T-shirts or whatever. My roommate wore a lilac pinned to a towel one year in college, which I think is basically the most expedient way to indicate you are a cool person.
To some extent, though, I think the "geeky loyalty" you proclaim first is a sort of statement of identity -- or it is for me, anyway. I don't do the towel on Towel Day not out of lack of respect for Mr. Adams or his legacy, but because I feel it would be sort of dishonest on some level: I loved Hitchhiker's Guide when I was a kid and first read it, but it didn't change my life. I don't actually have the entitlement to make myself out as that kind of fan. I know it sounds funny, taking fan cred seriously in some way, but really, I do think sports fans do have the right to be snobby if they're the type who goes to every match talking to someone who owns a T-shirt and casually roots for the team anytime they're on TV, and it's the same with media fans. There's a definite fallback of "you're so weird, it's just fiction/media/whatever!!" and sneering goggling at the Trekkies and Browncoats and the like who take it too seriously, and while I'm not a Trekkie or a Browncoat... what's wrong with taking it too seriously? Is it bad to admit that media affects us as strongly as it does? If it doesn't, what are we doing in the art and business of creating it, anyway?
I read Night Watch just before I transferred to UCSD, I think, not long after it came out. It was the latest Discworld book out, in hardcover, when I was finishing up my ravenous read-through of the Discworld series. Terry Pratchett's my favorite author. I haven't had many favorite authors in my life. I don't even write comedic fiction (well, not primarily, or not intentionally primarily I should say, good Lord), and I can still count Discworld as probably the biggest wedge in my pie-chart of writing influences, shoulder-to-shoulder with A Song of Ice and Fire and a number of classic Vertigo titles. My old copy of Night Watch was dog-eared and highlighted to all hell, for purposes of literaryquotes. It was one of the stories that really taught me what I wanted to do with stories.
So I guess on the Glorious 25th when a bunch of people commemorate the deaths of a bunch of police officers in a nonexistent universe, what I'm saying with the lilac is that: thank you, Terry Pratchett. I'm willing to embarrass myself as One Of Those Fans who Takes It Too Seriously this time, at least, because it's worth that much to me, anyway. But I know I'm not the only one.
There was some laughter. We who think we are about to die will laugh at anything.
What a bunch. I know you well, gentlemen. You're in it for the quiet life and the pension, you don't hurry too much in case the danger is still around when you get there, and the most you ever expected to face was an obstreperous drunk or a particularly difficult cow. Most of you aren't even coppers, not in your head. In the sea of adventure, you're bottom-feeders.
And now, it's war...and you're in the middle. Not on either side. You're the stupid little band of brown-jobs. You're beneath contempt. But believe me, boys -- you'll rise.