What’s my greatest fear? (And some other questions)

If you read Vanity Fair, you’re familiar with the question-and-answer at the end of the magazine. It’s known as the Proust Questionnaire, and here’s Jane Fonda’s as an example. (No, we’re not related, much to her chagrin.)

Since I’ll never be famous enough to be in Vanity Fair, here’s mine.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Doing exactly what I want to be doing in that present moment, whatever it is.

What is your greatest fear?

Dying

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Losing my temper when I’m frustrated.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Making decisions based on hatred.

Which living person do you most admire?

My parents taught me, and my wife puts up with me, both of which I’d say are pretty admirable.

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What is your greatest extravagance?

I’m not very extravagant, but probably my clothes. I’m not even a fancy dresser; I just have a lot of clothes. (Granted, I didn’t buy a lot of them.)

What is your current state of mind?

Relaxed

What do you consider the most-overrated virtue?

Popularity. Anyone can be popular by kissing enough a— and the right a—.

On what occasion do you lie?

I never do … unless I am now. But that means saying I never lie is a lie.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?

That I don’t look like George Clooney.

Which living person do you most despise?

Anyone who would hurt someone for no reason other than they can.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Sense of humor, and not being caught up in your own BS.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

See above.

What words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Ummm… uhh…” not because I can’t think of what to say, but years ago my father noticed I said it at the end of my jokes, almost like a rim shot. I think I still do it.

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What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My wife

When and where were you happiest?

Abbey Chapel at Mount Holyoke on my wedding day

What talent would you most like to have?

I’d love to be a brilliant writer.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d worry less.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being a decent person.

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If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

A star for the New York Yankees

Where would you most like to live?

New York City, but if you forced me to go to London or Los Angeles, I wouldn’t argue too much. None of these are actually feasible, but a guy can fantasize.

What is your most treasured possession?

My wedding ring

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Being afraid with no way of being able to control what happens

What is your favorite occupation?

Editor

What is your most marked characteristic?

Being left-handed, I’m extremely generic otherwise.

What do you most value in your friends?

Loyalty, humor, the ability to accept me just as I am

Who are your favorite writers?

Charlie Pierce, Joe Posnanski, Rebecca Traister, Will Ferguson, Rachael McDaniel, my friend Bob from college who is funny and poignant and I’m incredibly jealous of him

Who is your hero of fiction?

James Bond

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I haven’t the foggiest notion. Historical figures are extraordinary; I’m not.

Who are your heroes in real life?

There are lots of people I like and respect and admire for various reasons, but I’m not a big “heroes” guy.

What are your favorite names?

I’m oddly attached to William for some reason.

What is it that you most dislike?

Vegetables, winter, hateful people (not in that order)

What is your greatest regret?

I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.

How would you like to die?

Never. I know that’s not an answer, but it’s my answer. Next question.

What is your motto?

“Whatever works”

“It is better to be right than popular. Right lasts.”

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