The Proust Questionnaire is a questionnaire that supposedly illustrates a person’s personality. My first introduction to the Proust Questionnaire was through James Lipton, host of Inside The Actors Studio. Made famous by Bernard Pivot on Apostrophes, Lipton, using an abridged and adapted version of the questionnaire, would quiz his guests, many of whom provided hilarious responses.
Here is my attempt at The Proust Questionnaire. I hope you find it informative and that my answers tell you a little more about me, the person. To those who personally know me, some answers will be obvious and others surprising.
01. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I’m going to be selfish and nominate two ideas:
– On the beach, in summer with good music playing and a cold beer in my hand, and
– The nap post-Christmas lunch is the single greatest shuteye moment of the year.
02. What is your greatest fear?
Carnies… Circus folk. Nomads, you know. Small hands… smell like cabbage.
On a serious note, I’ve already experienced it to a degree but it’s unrealised potential leading into what I consider personal failure. There are a host of bigger issues in the world but it’s difficult to grasp their enormity until they directly affect your life.
03. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
This is an even split between being an obsessive compulsive and being a perfectionist. I will never apologise for being competitive.
04. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Gluttony. I acknowledge those who work hard or are smart enough to enjoy success deserve to do so it’s more my personal position that over-consumption is a demonstration of poor discipline. You’re not a bear (no offence to the large, hairy homosexual men out there) and you don’t have to hibernate for winter. Share the berries.
05. Which living person do you most admire?
It’s unfair to single out one of the four but the answer is my grandparents (Dida Nadilo, Baba Marija, Dida Bosné, and Baba Lucija).
In the pursuit of a better life, my grandparents emigrated from the former Yugoslavia to Australia away from the safety of their homes, their families and their culture to a country on the other side of the planet where few, if any, spoke their native tongue. My grandparents weren’t given a head start by government agencies, there were no welcoming committees, they were forced to jump through hoops to gain citizenship, worked ungodly hours in oppressive conditions and were made to feel as if they were intruders or second class citizens. Like many immigrants of the time, my grandparents didn’t complain, they simply got on with the business of building themselves, and their families, a better life.
It’s easy to forget but when my grandparents emigrated to Australia, they gave up their personal hopes, dreams and aspirations to provide better opportunities for their children, grandchildren and so on. That is true selflessness.
06. What is your greatest extravagance?
To be honest, I don’t really have one. If I am being forced to choose, it will be something to do with music, sports subscriptions or stupid amounts of alcohol on the odd occasion I decide to show my face publicly. Once it hits your lips, it’s so good!
07. What is your current state of mind?
08. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. In my experience, good things do not come to those who wait. Outside of a stroke of luck, good things come to those work hard to ensure they are equipped to identify, and then capitalise on opportunities when they present themselves.
09. On what occasion do you lie?
On occasion, I may tell someone I’m happy when I’m not. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m in a state of melancholy, for instance, I may be feeling ambivalent, disconnected or uninterested etc. but I learned the hard way that the world doesn’t particularly care for your personal problems. You position yourself as a whinger or a complainer when you go public, especially if the matter is inconsequential.
In my opinion, it’s unfair to saddle others with whatever may be troubling you. Your close friends, family and industry professionals are better equipped to help than a social media share or a passing conversation with an acquaintance.
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Without question, it is the fracture callous that developed on my left tibia post corrective surgery toward the end of 2008 and into early 2009 (requiring further surgeries). Outside of the fact that my injury has been used as a case study presented to some of Australia’s finest physicians and my leg aches like a motherfucker from time to time, it’s a constant reminder of what could, or more appropriately, should have been, when considering my professional sporting career. It’s the bane of my existence.
11. Which living person do you most despise?
I’m not going to name this person. To describe this person as Judas Iscariot would be too good for this piece of shit.
12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
On face value, this will appear strange, but the quality I most admire in a man, is strength. In my eyes, strength means to be there for your friends, your family and to represent your name as best you can. It may be physical, emotional or psychological, but undoubtedly, the quality is strength.
13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Confidence. A confident woman has a strong sense of self and is willing to back herself. It’s an appealing and attractive quality that commands your attention.
14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Fuck and aye/hey. Fuck slips itself into casual conversation far too easily and for some stupid reason, I manage to finish a statement with aye/hey from time to time. Tony Yugoslav farken.
15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Most people who know me well will probably say the New England Patriots and/or Track & Field. For the moment, let’s go with those answers. In terms of what I would like it to be, I’m not willing to share that right now. Gotta keep some mystery right?
Family wise, it’s my cousins Maya and Levi. My Dad is a little older than my uncles and truthfully, my brothers and I are more like uncles than cousins to the kids. They’re always excited and happy to see us. It’s pretty cool.
16. When and where were you happiest?
I grew up on a suburban market garden. As a boy, you couldn’t have asked for a better playground. I got to drive Massey Ferguson tractors, help grow and pick vegetables, build bunkers and forts, explore swamplands, pat horses that lived in the opposite paddock, throw javelins and the discus, pretend I was Jonathan Crowe and in my jocks, do “beach sprints” on the sand, pick tall onion stems and use them as combat weapons against my brothers, climb trees to pick and eat fresh fruit and above all, spend time with my family whilst doing so. Undoubtedly, the highlight of my market garden experience was nailing my brother in the side of his head with a rotten onion. From distance, a truly magnificent throw.
As a boy, I couldn’t ask for more than that.
17. Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to communicate fluently in every language known to man. Far too much is lost in mixed up or misinterpreted communication. Lost In Translation is one of my favourite movies. #nuffsaid
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’m working toward it, but it would be to stop over-analysing. Paralysis by analysis can be, and is, a royal pain in the arse.
19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
At graduation, I finished as the dux of Phoenix Primary School. It was a great honour to be recognised as the smartest student in your year group. Ironically, the guy who finished as the runner up went on to finish as the dux of Christan Brothers’ College, Fremantle, our high school. Sporting commitments and laziness aye (there it is).
20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Selfishly, I’d like to be reincarnated as a version of myself so I can correct the many and varied decisions that have lead me to this current point in my life. For the greater good, I’d like to come back as a universal and free cure for illness, especially one that will cure every sick child on the face of the planet.
21. Where would you most like to live?
A spaceship filled with all of my celebrity crushes, all of whom possess lose moral standards. It would be marvelous to travel through the universe… with pretty women… all of whom, are naughty.
22. What is your most treasured possession?
I’m going to apply a literal translation of the word possession and veer away from the want to name body parts (booyah). Unfortunately, this item was disposed of when I was 14. If forced to choose a current possession, it would be my authentic and signed Tom Brady Patriots jersey that my brother Jacob procured. Good work second born.
23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
A person losing all sense of hope that he/she convinces him/herself that suicide is their only remaining option.
24. What is your favourite occupation?
An NFL player or a successful writer. I’ll never argue against the therapeutic nature of writing and the NFL is well, the NFL.
25. What is your most marked characteristic?
Resilience. My feelings toward resilience can be summed up by the following quote:
“Any coward can fight a battle when he’s sure of winning; but give me the man who has pluck to fight when he’s sure of losing.” – George Eliot.
People may say that’s a stupid application of Eliot’s words and that’s fine but some things are worth fighting for even when you’re outmatched and outnumbered. The point is, you fought for what you believed in. Get knocked down, get back up and so on and so forth.
26. What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty. I’m not a follower and I don’t expect nor want my friends to tell me what I want to hear. I would prefer their honest and truthful opinion. Groupthink can go fuck itself.
27. Who are your favorite writers?
Mark Twain, Aaron Sorkin and Dr. Seuss. To entertain is one thing but to encourage independent and expressive thought, and educate whilst doing so, well, that is the mark of a fine wordsmith.
28. Who is your hero of fiction?
He-Man or Conan the Barbarian. On the odd occasion that you caught the Surjan boys inside, it was watching cartoons or movies filled with men of incredible strength performing great accomplishments.
29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I’m going to reference Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron. It’s not just one person but a type of person. For some reason, I tend to gravitate toward and identify with the warrior-strategist-leader of men types such as Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan etc.
30. Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents. You can read the accompanying explanation here.
31. What are your favorite names?
Aleksandr and Selene are the two that immediately spring to mind.
32. What is it that you most dislike?
Pedophiles, rapists, domestic abuse and sickly children. Children haven’t had the chance to live their life. They’re our most precious resource and don’t deserve to be saddled with misfortune at a young age.
33. What is your greatest regret?
The list is long and distinguished. Of all my regrets, the one that stands out the most and the one that will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life is knowing that I did not do everything in my power to be the best athlete I could have been. Part of that was personal conduct and part of that was a lack of education and understanding. For instance, I didn’t appreciate the importance of nutrition and deferred my health to so called experts. I put far too much faith in these people rather than taking some time to research, solicit alternative opinion, come to my own conclusions and raise my concerns with those dieticians and nutritionists.
Secondly, I definitely owe an apology to my first girlfriend. At the time, I didn’t appreciate her and should have treated her much better than I did. The benefit of age and experience.
34. How would you like to die?
At home, in old age, and in good health with all my faculties in tact safe in the knowledge that I did something meaningful with my life.
35. What is your motto?
If you don’t try then you’ll never know.
Below is the questionnaire used by James Lipton on Inside The Actors Studio. This questionnaire was inspired by Bernard Pivot’s use of The Proust Questionnaire. Here’s my attempt (at this time) at answering Lipton’s Questionnaire.
01. What is your favorite word?
Try. People who are willing to try and fail are far more interesting than those who don’t.
02. What is your least favorite word?
Pedophile. I hate everything about the connection to the word.
03. What turns you on?
I’ve got to be honest and say a woman who wears a summer dress well. There’s something to be said for a woman who has the ability to 1. find a dress that complements her body type, and 2. wear it well. Seeing the summer dress accentuate her best features is rather satisfying.
04. What turns you off?
This is stupid but it’s people spelling my name Eric when it’s clear as fucking day and often, right in front of them on a computer screen, tablet, phone or piece of paper as Erik. FFS it’s Erik with a K. It’s not difficult. It’s right there in front of you. In front of you!
05. What sound or noise do you love?
Hysterical laughter. You know people are enjoying themselves when they’re laughing hysterically. It’s even better when it’s children.
06. What sound or noise do you hate?
Polystyrene rubbing against polystyrene. Even the mere thought of it makes my spine tingle. Stupid substance.
07. What is your favorite curse word?
In Canberra, a friend at the time blurted out the term “fucken-dickhead-wanker”. Three words combine to form a super-curse word.
08. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Actor. Getting inside the skin of a character and thinking their thoughts, living their life and sharing their story has a certain degree of catharsis to it. Selfishly, as a little boy (okay, adult) who didn’t want to wear many different hats (fireman, astronaut, Batman, deranged serial killer etc.) and have the opportunity to experience or share life through the point of view of another? Also, I love to entertain people.
09. What profession would you not like to do?
Gynecologist. There’s a reason why you visit the doctor.
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
If God does exist then this is my dream scenario. God will be Bill Murray aka Carl Spackler of Caddyshack fame, we’ll be in his shed out of the back of Bushwood and his first words to me whilst holding rocket fuel and contraband will be “Cannonballllllllllll.”