It only looks easy: The Proust Questionnaire

While this adapted (from Vanity Fair) Proust Questionnaire is used as an interview technique, it occurred to me it’s the perfect cottage or patio game. No skill involved; I will go first.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Sitting on the dock watching my kids in the lake before me and knowing my parents are just up the hill behind me.

What is your greatest fear?
Knowing how much it costs to replace that dock.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
The guy trapped in the butt of the Trojan horse. Knew he was part of something big, but never got to see the good stuff.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
That I haven’t been able to invent a Sarcasm Font.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Selfishness. Everybody can afford generosity of spirit.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Boots and leather jackets.

What is your favorite journey?
Anywhere with an open road.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
The reduced look of lines and wrinkles.

On what occasion do you lie?
To get off the phone.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I have a very furrowed brow.

Which living person do you most despise?
Despising anyone is poisoning your own well.

What is your greatest regret?
Wasting too many todays in anticipation of tomorrow.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Ask me at the end of it.

When and where were you happiest?
Sometime before cell phones were invented.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to be one of those people who clean their house when they’re upset or nervous or angry. The fact I consider this a talent tells you everything you need to know.

What is your current state of mind?
“Well behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My Line of Credit statement.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Getting a decent night’s sleep.

What is your most treasured possession?
I should say something like my mother’s engagement ring, but it’s really all the crap the boys made me in preschool.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The infection from earrings made by a preschooler.

Where would you like to live?
About a mile past where Joe’s barn used to be. Go right at the rock the plow hits every winter.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Probably how much I love my sons, Christopher and Ayrton. And even more, how much I like them.

What do you most value in your friends?
Kindness.

Who are your favourite writers?
Larry McMurtry for his broken characters, Alice Munro for her perfect short stories, Shirley Jackson for both and Dr. Seuss for every life lesson I’ll ever need.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Woodrow Call

Who are your heroes in real life?
Kids brave enough to ask for help, and the people who help them.

What is it that you most dislike?
Olives and Stephen Harper.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
I would prefer to come back as a small, pampered calico cat; I will probably come back as a wasp.

How would you like to die?
I can’t die. I’m the only one who knows where the shed key is.

What is your motto?
Just give it some time. And if you run out of time, pray you come back as a cat.

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9 responses to It only looks easy: The Proust Questionnaire

  1. Janice says:

    I’ve always said when I die I want to come back as a house cat BUT I get to pick my owner! (And I have a very large, pampered calico cat who has a bucket-load of attitude. My daughter-in-law says “Marbles has issues . . .”)

  2. Peggy says:

    Great column! And I’m going to shamelessly quote Ulrich like it’s my own.

  3. nursedude says:

    What is your idea of perfect happiness?
    Sitting in the cockpit of a sailboat enjoying a fair wind and following sea.

    What is your greatest fear?
    .

    Which historical figure do you most identify with?
    Sisyphus. Pushing the same stupid rock up the same stupid hill for eternity.

    What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
    My innate skepticism. Has yet to let me down though.

    What is the trait you most deplore in others?
    Bigotry.

    What is your greatest extravagance?
    Books and electronics gadgets.

    What is your favorite journey?
    Sailing on eastern Lake Ontario.

    What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
    Cheerfulness.

    On what occasion do you lie?
    When I reply to posts on blogs.
    When my SO asks “do you think she’s pretty?”

    What do you dislike most about your appearance?
    Thick wavy hair.

    Which living person do you most despise?
    Tie: Justin Bieber/Chad Kroger

    What is your greatest regret?
    Wishing I’d done more with my yesterdays.

    What or who is the greatest love of your life?
    Ditto: Ask me at the end of it.

    When and where were you happiest?
    Sometime before I became an adult.

    Which talent would you most like to have?
    I’d like to be able to pick winning lottery numbers.

    What is your current state of mind?
    “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” Dalai Lama

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

    What do you consider your greatest achievement?
    Going back to school and becoming a nurse while working full time.

    What is your most treasured possession?
    The bedspread I’ve had since I was a kid. Or my first baseball glove.

    What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
    Thinking that I could have done more for my Mom when she was sick.

    Where would you like to live?
    Someplace with mild summers and winters. And a lake or ocean view.

    What is your most marked characteristic?
    My honesty.

    What do you most value in your friends?
    Compassion for others.

    Who are your favourite writers?
    Stephen King – nobody writes better horror short stories. Carl Hiaasen – his book Tourist Season is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. C.S. Forrester – Hornblower

    Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
    Horatio Hornblower

    Who are your heroes in real life?
    People who put their lives on the line so we can enjoy safety, security and freedom.

    What is it that you most dislike?
    The Toronto Maple Leafs

    If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
    A pampered housecat or a seagull (I have some people to “visit”).

    How would you like to die?
    Of old age surrounded by the people I love and things that I cherish. Or during a pillow fight in the Castle Anthrax.

    What is your motto?
    If you would know a man, observe how he treats a cat.

  4. Pat says:

    Perfect happiness is an illusion.
    My greatest fear is that I’m right about perfect happiness.
    Winston Churchill, because he said,”Never, ever, give up!”
    I deplore the fact that conflict makes me anxious.
    I deplore people who are bullies.
    My greatest extravagance is new vehicles.
    Favourite journey is from my house to the cottage and back, 40 minutes each way.
    Most overrated virtue is political correctness.
    I lie to protect other people’s feelings.
    I dislike my chicken legs.
    I despise anyone who hurts children.
    Greatest regret, so far, is the one that got away.
    Still looking for the greatest love of my life.
    Most happy when I was a young boy.
    I’m happy with my talents, need to exercise them more.
    Current state of mind is: Take it one day at a time.
    If I could change one thing it would be to live without depression.
    My greatest achievement was being a teacher for 30 years.
    My most treasured possession is my memories of my family.
    Lowest depth of misery, losing my Dad, and then my partner two weeks later.
    I like where I’m living now.
    Most marked characteristic is my integrity.
    My friends are there for me, whenever I need them, and vice versa.
    My favourite writers are the one’s who make me laugh, or cry.
    Favourite “hero” of fiction is Wyle E. Coyote, he never gives up.
    My heroes in real life are Solo moms.
    I most dislike people who take advantage of your kindness.
    I’d like to come back as me, knowing what I know now.
    I’d like to die peacefully, surrounded by family.
    My Motto is:’It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”

  5. Lisa says:

    Question: How would you like to die?
    Answer: I wouldn’t like it at all.

    Love the Proust Questionnaire in Vanity Fair. Usually the first page I turn to.

  6. Susan says:

    love the fact that this questionnaire seems to allow people to be funny, bare their souls and get snippy all in one place. If you would know someone better see how they fill this out….good column!

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