DO YOU “DO” PROUST? – Marilyn Armstrong

I got this one from THE PATIENCE OF WILLOW.  

If you’d like to copy the questions yourself without having to delete my answers, just click on the above link.

Anyway, this questionnaire, popularized by Proust, according to Vanity Fair (from whence it sprang), has been making the rounds. I, myself got it from Willow who got it from Embeecee.

Here are the questions — with my answers. As I said, if you want the questions without the answers, just click on the link.

The Proust Questionnaire had its origins in a parlor game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, who believed that in answering these questions, an individual revealed his or her true nature.

So, is this my “true” nature? I have no idea what my true nature really is because I have been in a state of permanent change as long as I’ve been alive. So have fun. Just … don’t get too serious. I’ve never much cared for Proust or his writing.

Also, there are no answers, right or wrong. So no matter what you say, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to prove. Quizzes without answers are kind of weird, don’t you think?

__1.__What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My life with about twice the income and enough savings to cover “stuff” that comes up. Also, add to that, good health, a sturdy, comfortable car with 4-wheel drive, happy dogs, someone to come in twice a week to clean. An on-call driver so neither one of us has to drive plus someone sturdy, young, and interested to take care of the house. Heavy stuff, like snow shoveling, serious cleaning.

Can I also get a cook a few times a week? Not every night. Just a few nights … like maybe three? That would do it for me!

__2.__What is your greatest fear?

Spiders in the bed.

__3.__What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Talking too much and thinking too little.

__4.__What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Stupidity, ignorance, bigotry, and bad speech.

__5.__Which living person do you most admire?

Admire? Maybe, at this exact moment in time, Elizabeth Warren. You could ask me this tomorrow and I’d say something different. I am not embarrassed that I change my opinions. Isn’t change what it’s all about?

__6.__What is your greatest extravagance?

Housewares. Linens, blankets, towels, bathmats. Cookware. And, sadly, antiques.

__7.__What is your current state of mind?

Pretty good. A little worried about stuff coming up. Garry’s surgery. His recovery.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Hoping that I’m able to do what I need to do. I have good days and not such good days. I need a bunch of good ones all strung together. I absolutely do NOT have time for bad days!

__8.__What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Some people think I’m a lot wise than I am. My “wisdom” is more like a compilation of tens of thousands books I’ve read, conversations I’ve had, the courses I’ve taken. It’s not me. It’s all the authors I’ve read, conversations I’ve had. The great thoughts of other people I’ve absorbed.

I try to leave a little room for a few knickknacks too. Fit them in with all the books …

Maybe that really IS wisdom, but I’ve always thought wisdom was more Zen and magic, and less like research.

__9.__On what occasion do you lie?

I always tell people they look fabulous, no matter what I really think. Everyone needs a boost. No one wants to hear they look like crap.

__10.__What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I look kind of like a stump with a bad back. I try not to look very hard. It is what it is and at least I can still walk. Or limp.

Marilyn can still walk! Photo: Garry Armstrong

Whatever you call it, I can still do it. On my own and these days, that’s no small thing.

__11.__Which living person do you most despise?

Donald Trump.

__12.__What is the quality you most like in a man?

Intelligent openness. The ability to understand — to “get it” — the first time and the openness to accept ideas that are new and might require change.

__13.__What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Same as for a man plus a determination to laugh at tragedy.

__14.__Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Really. Very. Actually. I am an adverbial overdoser.

__15.__What or who is the greatest love of your life?


__16.__When and where were you happiest?

The past 30 years have been great. Yes, I know. I had cancer twice and major heart surgery and I forget how many other illnesses and surgeries … but still, they have been great years.

I have never been happier, even when everything seemed to be falling apart, including me.

__17.__Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I could still sing. I miss my voice.

__18.__If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d make my back function like a real spine!

__19.__What do you consider your greatest achievement?


__20.__If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I can’t answer that. I have no idea.

__21.__Where would you most like to live?

I’m pretty happy here, actually. If we could also take a midwinter vacation to someplace warm — Arizona for example — it would be perfect.

I like the seasons and I love New England. It just isn’t my favorite place in the middle of winter.

__22.__What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t think I have one. I have many things I love and enjoy, but “most treasured” implies a level of caring for a “thing” that I no longer possess. It’s one of those time-sensitive issues.

“Things” meant more to me when I was younger than they do now. I am more inclined to love living things than inanimate things.

__23.__What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Growing up. Childhood was ugly.

__24.__What is your favorite occupation?


__25.__What is your strongest characteristic?

I can write.

__26.__What do you most value in friends?


__27.__Who are your favorite writers?

That’s not fair. I like many authors and who is at the top depends on the genre and my current mood. And what I read last.

__28.__Who is your fictional hero?

Do I have a fictional hero? If you’d asked me that as a kid, I’d probably have said “The Black Stallion.” He might still be my hero. I really like horses.

__29.__Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Identify with as in “feel some sense of being like them?” Or is this an “I wish I was like” sort of question?

Eleanor with Franklin D. Roosevelt. By Effanbee, 1985

I wish I were Eleanor Roosevelt, but I’m not. Many of the people I identify with have lived a life similar to my own. They are not necessarily the people I most admire, but I understand them. I “get” them.

__30.__Who are your heroes in real life?

And still handsome.

Garry is. My friends are also my heroes. They live real lives and overcome real adversity. And they laugh anyway.

__31.__What are your favorite names?

I don’t really have favorite names. I had a terrible time picking a name for my own baby. I had thousands of potential names and picking one was really hard. Fortunately, I had a husband with a passion for awful names so, anything he suggested, I automatically rejected. He weeded out a lot of bad ones for me.

If he liked it, I just knew it would be cruel to a child. Gwynellin? Seriously?

__32.__What is it that you most dislike?


__33.__What is your greatest regret?

Not saving more money. Or possibly, not earning more money that I could save. Maybe these are the same thing.

Regardless, I think you can put it down to my haunting lack of ambition.

__34.__How would you like to die?

Quickly and painlessly.

__35.__What is your motto?

Do the most you can with what you’ve got. Life won’t be perfect, but you will have given it your best shot.

So now that I’ve filled it all the answers, how do I find out what my true nature is? Anyone have any ideas? I’m listening.

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3 replies

  1. Wonderful read!! And you m’am ARE wise. Common sense is something you have a lot of and that’s so precious in our current reality…it tends to make a person wise IMHO. I agree wholeheartedly with #s 2 and 32…I’d never thought of spiders in the bed before though….dang. Brrrrr. Spiders are awful. #10 ??! You don’t look like a stump at all and I am so jealous of your beautiful hair. If you ever feel like riffin’ on yourself (putting yourself down etc), take a gander at your hair. It’s glorious.
    #11 Wholeheartedly agree. Despicable doesn’t begin to cover the man..he’s so much more and worse too. Sad for America. I hold the feeble hope out that he and his awful cadre are blown to bits in some terrorist action, and that a good person (male or female I ain’t picky) rises up out of that and leads America to a better day. I also know that’s fantasy. ❤


  2. It’s late right now, and I’m way tired, but I wanted to comment to say I’ve read this. Thanks for answering the questions! Your answers, as always, were interesting. If I weren’t so tired, I’d say more, but it’s past my bedtime and my meds are kicking in. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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