Marcel Proust famously answered a personality questionnaire when he was aged 13 and then later when he was 20. The questionnaire has gone through a bunch of iterations, probably most famously on the back page of Vanity Fair. As I was moving some books yesterday, I found a book that included the responses of various public figures to the questionnaire and it made me want to take it myself. So here goes.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I grew up in the UK, we tend to favour wistful melancholy. Happiness just isn’t a very English trait, or a very Lebanese one for that matter. If I had to answer at all costs, I’d say being with friends and family around a swimming pool at night, with bossa nova playing in the background. But then it would probably rain or something.
What is your greatest fear?
Failure. But that’s a fear that’s surmountable, through success. Oh and people dressed as rabbits. That scares the bejesus out of me.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Which living person do you most admire?
At the risk of sounding like an immense cheesball, it’s very honestly my parents.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
The fact that I feel compelled to make up silly dances everytime I go out, and I force everyone around me, including strangers, to learn the moves.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
The inability to park correctly, or signal when making a right turn. And a general lack of respect.
What is your greatest extravagance?
It used to be spending copious amounts of money on spirits in plush West End clubs in London, trying my best to convince Eastern European goldiggers that I was incredibly wealthy. Which I was, and am, not. Now, I’d probably have to say it’s travel.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
What’s a virtue?
When and where were you happiest?
Happiness? Again? Was Proust American or something?
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I’m a large hairy Lebanese man. There’s a lot to dislike.
Which living person do you most despise?
Pretty much anyone who has neon lights under their car. And anyone who double parks.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Fuck. Dude. Enno.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Leaving a promising yet soul-destorying job as a banker in London to become a penniless struggling writer in Beirut. Best decision ever. And I can live off crackers and water, right?
On what occasion do you lie?
Never. Or always. I can’t remember which.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to play the accordion. And look cool. Preferably simultaneously.
What is your current state of mind?
Contemplative. I’m mainly contemplating what sandwich to have for lunch.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
The pleat in a Hollywood starlet’s Lanvin skirt.
What is your most treasured possession?
My books. All of ‘em. Even the shitty ones I used as coasters.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being surrounded by bubbly happy people talking about inane matters. And being alone when I don’t want to be. That’s no fun.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’m 1m96, 110 kilos, with a full beard, I’d say my most marked characteristic is my eyelashes.
What do you most value in your friends?
Their silence. Badda bing. Eh, fuggetaboutit.
Who are your favorite writers?
Bukowski, Beigbeder, Flaubert, Easton Ellis, Baudelaire, Hage, Brooker, Hunter S. Thompson. Any self-destructive womanizing alcoholic basically.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Captain Planet. You know, because he was our hero, and he was going to take pollution down to zero. And he did.
Actually, hang on…
How would you like to die?
Not anytime soon, thank you very much.
What is your motto?
Some people never go crazy, what horrible lives they must live.
To take the questionnaire yourself, head here.