I am a fan of the magazine Vanity Fair, and my favorite section is the Proust Questionnaire. Located on the last page, this questionnaire is about one’s personality and its name and modern popularity as a form of interview is owed to the responses given by the French writer Marcel Proust. In VF’s rendition, famous folk are interviewed and, most often, their responses put a delightful twist on the assumption of their lives.
This reminds me of the “slam books” we composed in middle school. We didn’t know it then, but how very Proustian of us. Using a notebook, participants would sign in on the first page and choose a number. A different question was written on each page, and each contributor would write an answer after his or her number. At a grade school reunion a few years ago, I brought two slam books I still have and we pored over them, chuckling at childhood dreams of what we thought we would do in the future or whom we would marry. I was going to marry John Taylor from Duran Duran, live in either England or Hawaii and be a writer.
Someday I hope VF will contact me to complete the Proust Questionnaire. I am thinking it may come between the publication of my second and third novels – after I have established a large fan base and credibility, of course.
My favorite question is “what is your greatest extravagance?” and I am ready. Years ago, I might have responded with items such as purses or shoes or a new computer. Today, however, as I review my monthly credit card statement, I see my greatest extravagance is an item for which I have used for decades yet never thought it would consume most of my funds.
It is indeed pitiful that the amount I spend each month on gasoline has far eclipsed any other extravagance I allow myself such as the theater, music, books or travel. I still remember a price sign on a filling station near my childhood home advertising gasoline for 29₵a gallon. I now cringe each time I swipe my card at the pump so I can venture from one locale to another. If I could walk to more locations or take the metro, I would happily oblige. However, since I have chosen to live in a suburban location where public transportation is not available, I must endure the high prices to fuel up and go.
As I am impatient person and could not wait for fame to find me, I took the Proust questionnaire online where I happily reported “gasoline” as my greatest extravagance and noted what makes me happiest. Perhaps in twenty years – just as I did with my slam book – I will look back and laugh at what I wrote while watching a sunset over the Pacific Ocean with John Taylor as we celebrate the publication of another book.