The last page of each issue of Vanity Fair is dubbed the "Proust Questionnaire", and while it's a certainty that I'll never appear in the pages of VF, or indeed any Condé Nast publication, that doesn't mean I can't come up with some answers on my own.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Just the two of us, without a worry in the world. (File under "Fiction - Juvenile.")
What is your greatest fear?
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Automaker and maybe huckster Preston Tucker. He had the most brilliant of ideas, and barely a clue as to how to bring them to fruition.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Filling the holes in my music collection. When you have to buy a whole CD just to get one song, it should be no surprise that there are some songs of which I have twelve or fifteen copies.
What is your favorite journey?
Hitting a road I haven't hit before on the way to any place that might happen to beckon. In the last two years, I've hit a bit over nine thousand miles' worth.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Chastity; as Alex Comfort once noted, it is no more virtuous than malnutrition.
On what occasion do you lie?
To protect a confidence or to disinform an intruder.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
My utter lack of definition. Even when I was thinner, I was fairly amorphous.
Which living person do you most despise?
Myself, when I fail to live up to my expectations, which is far too often.
What is your greatest regret?
Spurning a kiss, when I'd never before had one.
What is your current state of mind?
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
That we didn't find it so amazingly easy to ignore each other.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The fact that my children are much more cheerful and much less morose than their old man.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
In the next life, I'm definitely a girl, though details are not yet forthcoming.
What is your favorite occupation?
Net-based research on almost anything of interest.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Not taking himself too seriously.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
One part tenderness, one part wicked wit, one part serenity. Heat through age twenty-five or so, allow to cool. Serves one, if that one is very, very fortunate.
What do you most value in your friends?
That so few of them have given up on me.
Who are your favorite writers?
Mark Twain, H. Allen Smith, and whoever is getting credit for Shakespeare this week.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Twain's Connecticut Yankee, thrust somehow into King Arthur's court, or maybe Cassandra Mortmain in Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle.
Who are your heroes in real life?
The people who write Web sites better than mine, thereby giving me the perfect excuse not to watch television.
What is your motto?
"Surely at least one daisy has an odd number of petals."
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Copyright © 2002 by Charles G. Hill