I recently took part in an exercise where we broke up into small groups and asked each other questions off a list of 30.
The point was to practice coming up with answers to questions that appear out of the blue during an interview, but I thought it would be fun to share.
Because I’ve had a chance to think about some of these questions, as opposed to something spur-of-the-moment, a few of the answers have changed, but not too many.
1. What was your favorite childhood book? — Not a book, but the entire “The Black Stallion” series.
2. What was your favorite TV show as a child? — The Adam West “Batman.” No other versions, including the movies, have interested me in the slightest.
3. What book did you read in secret as a kid? — Nothing in secret, but when you read way above your grade level like I did, that’s how you wind up reading books like Maury Allen’s “Mr. October,” in which the expressions “uppity n——-“ and “If bull—-t was religion, he’d be the Pope” appear in the first 10 pages, far younger than is probably advisable.
4. What album and CD do you love and know by heart? — Probably the closest is “Twice the Speed of Life” by Sugarland.
5. What book did you hate as a student? — “The Old Man and the Sea.” I always found Hemingway’s writing insufferable.
6. What is your all-time favorite movie? — “Bull Durham”
7. What song always lifts your mood? — “80s Mercedes” by Maren Morris
8. What is the last book you read? — “Disney’s Land: Walt Disney and the Invention of the Amusement Park That Changed the World” by Richard Snow
9. Which TV shows have you binge-watched? Why? — “Fleabag,” because it’s incredible.
10. If you were an animal, which animal would you be? — A cat
11. What was your most embarrassing moment? — Here’s a tip … if your teacher mentions something about “interface” and then jolts you from a daydream by asking a question about it, do not try to repeat the word back to him or her without making sure you have the exact right word that starts with “inter-.”
12. What famous author would you most like to meet? — Charlie Pierce
13. What in your past would you most like to change? — I wish I would have realized I had the good sense to not hurt myself even if I was a little more adventurous.
14. Describe your most profound musical experience. — Being with thousands of other people as Sara Bareilles was singing “She Used To Be Mine” and feeling like no one was breathing.
15. What important classic book have you never read? — Here’s a list of 100 classic books. I’ve read maybe two or three of them.
16. What is your least-favorite food? — Mushrooms
17. What movie, book or music always makes you cry? — I don’t know that anything does, but I’m always on the looking for people chopping onions whenever I hear Josh Groban’s “To Where You Are.”
18. What actor or actress do you have a crush on? — You could probably get a different answer from me every week (or every day, or every hour), but Suzi has gotten me to go to two movies based on Diane Lane being in them, so that’s who I’ll say.
19. Would you rather be a vampire or a zombie? Why? — Which one is least likely to die?
20. What book at home would you use to squash a bug? — “Fall Out” by Tim Shipman. No particular reason other than it’s the largest book in the closest bookshelf, since I do most of my reading on my Kindle.
21. Which character would you like to be in “Harry Potter”? — Never read the books. Never saw the movies.
22. What song would you most like to sing on stage? — “My Way”
23. Do you like your name? What name would you prefer? — I’m good with my name, and it was my father’s before me.
24. What do most people not know about you? — If we’re talking about people I’ve met in recent years, probably that I played trombone through my sophomore year of college.
25. If you could live anywhere, where would you live? — Manhattan, even though it wouldn’t be the same as the way I experience it as a visitor.
26. If you could go back in time, where would you go?— It probably would have been fun to see the Yankees winning the World Series a whole bunch of years in the 1950s. That, or back to college.
28. Who in your life has made a strong impression on you? — My parents taught me most of what I know about being a good person.
29. Do you have a recurring dream? Describe it. — I’m in college, and I have a paper due the next day that I haven’t even started. Sometimes it comes with the bonus that I haven’t gone to class in so long I don’t remember having ever been in it. Every time, I have to wake up to remind myself that I finished graduate school 24 years ago.
30. What epitaph would you like on your tombstone? — “He treated people well.”
Now that those are done, what’s the point of this little exercise without challenging other people to do it? And if you’re on this list — and even if you’re not and want to do it anyway — make sure you share it with other people so they can answer!