* * *
Three Arguments Against Suicide
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"Arthur, what are you doing?"
Arthur leaned over to peer down at Ford. The branch beneath his feet wobbled dangerously.
"I should have thought it obvious," he said coldly. "I'm going to kill myself."
"You can't kill yourself!"
"Why -- well -- well, if you wanted to commit suicide, you should have done it earlier! There were millions of people trying to kill you; why didn't you just go ahead and let them instead of going to all the trouble of doing it yourself now?"
It was, he had to admit, not a very convincing argument.
"Being killed by bug-eyed aliens isn't the same as suicide at all!"
"Yes! For one thing, it's not as blazingly stupid!"
Arthur gathered himself up.
"I'm sorry, Ford, but my mind is made up," he said. "You will just have to handle it. Take three steps to the side, please; I might splash a little."
Ford did not move.
"Well -- what about the moral side of it?"
"What moral side of it?"
"It's not moral to kill oneself, is it? I mean, there are laws against it, aren't there? It's not even enjoyable, so there goes any justification for it--"
"Well, really, Ford!"
"What about your values, I ask you?"
"You haven't got the values of a kleptomaniac hyena!"
"That's why I was asking about your values!"
Arthur felt confused. The conversation seemed to have reared and galloped off in the wrong direction without his even noticing it. He ought to have got used to it by now, since this always happened when he talked to Ford, but it still made him feel like he'd been trying to do algebra, only to find out that he had really been doing trigonometry, very badly. He decided to maintain a dignified silence, although this had never improved matters before.
It did not improve matters now.
"Why do you want to commit suicide, anyway?"
Arthur remained silent, but the dignity began to flake off his silence in scrapes, like cheap paint. He was clearly being silent because he had nothing to say, rather than because he wanted not to say it effectively.
"Well, there's no point in it, is there?" said Arthur weakly.
"I mean in life," said Arthur hastily. "Don't you ever wonder about it all, Ford? What it's all about, I mean. Don't you ever think there should be more to the world than just--" he gestured at the sky "--mooching off the universe and stumbling into ridiculously improbable adventures?"
Ford thought about this.
"Have you been drinking that fermented grass extract again, Arthur?"
Arthur made a resigned movement towards the air surrounding the branch. Ford threw up a hand.
"No, wait, I've thought of something!"
Arthur glared suspiciously at him through the leaves.
"Sex," said Ford.
Then he squawked, and then stopped, because it is difficult to squawk when a six foot ape descendant has landed on your stomach with some considerable force.
"Well, I didn't mean immediately," gasped Ford, when he could breathe again.
Arthur leapt off him, scandalised.
"Oh, yeah?" said Ford. "Well, I didn't want to have sex with you anyway!"
This time, the silence was so thick that several small insects died from the strain.
"Um," said Arthur.
"Ah," said Ford intelligently.
"Well, I'll just go -- kill a rabbit or something, shall I?" said Arthur.
"Oh, yes, good idea," said Ford. "Good man. Keep yourself busy."
"Er," said Arthur. "Right."
He wandered off, with a last sidelong look.
Ford lay back on the grass and grinned at the sky.
* * *
The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy has only this to say about the courtship rituals of the natives of the small planets in the vicinity of Betelgeuse:
If you ever have the misfortune to attract the attention of a native of one of the small planets in the vicinity of Betelgeuse . . .