Saturday, March 31, 2012

Proust. Why Did It Have To Be Proust?

I am an uneducated prole. I have never read Marcel Proust. I keep mixing him up with Marcel Marceau. And, really, what the hell does a mime have to say, anyway?

Marcel Proust - The Mime Years
The thought of reading anything that can be described as "epic", like say, a 3000+ page, seven volume novel (in French), makes me break out in hives. I barely got through Don Quixote without an aneurysm. All I remember about that is wondering what the hell Pancho Villa was doing hanging around a schizophrenic Spaniard when he should have been leading a revolution in Mexico.

I might have gotten his name mixed up with someone else. It happens a lot.

Sancho Pancho Villa Panza - geared up to fight revolutionary windmills
So this Proust guy (I like to pronounce it PrOWst. Pisses off the French.) answered this questionnaire written in some girlfriend's diary, or something (What the hell was he doing snooping through her diary, anyway? CREEEEPY.) when he was thirteen. Like a thirteen year old kid has anything useful to say. Should have saved up his words. Could have written a longer book.

So today I'm taking this questionnaire, or at least some of the questions. It's a little long. But instead of answering it like 13-year-old Marcel Proust who was probably still waiting for his balls to drop, I'm going to answer it from the perspective of when I was 20.

Dear god. That was over 20 years ago. We had Members Only jackets, Patrick Nagel prints. Miami Vice was still on the air, for chrissake.

Damn, I'm old.

All right, let's do this before I throw back a bottle of Ambien with a Smirnoff chaser.

Your favorite virtue: Good at not getting caught. Yeah, I get that might not be a virtue per se, but it worked for me in my twenties and has continued to this day. Proust answered "The need to be loved," which is a little co-dependant even for the 1890's.

Your favorite qualities in a man: The desire to lend me money. Again, I think I'm one up on Proust who answered "Feminine charms". Either he wasn't clear on gender assignment roles, or there are things about Proust I was previously unaware of. That makes him either very confused or very self-aware.

Your favorite qualities in a woman: See above. Really, I was equal opportunity in my twenties. I'd mooch off anybody. Again, Proust seems to have a flexible interpretation of gender roles, answering "Manly virtues." Bold ground to break for the 19th Century. Good on ya, Marcel.

Your main fault: Wow. That's a whopper. The main one? That's like asking what the main fault is with Congress. Let's see. Well, there was that time with... no, I think there's still a statute of limitations issue there. Maybe the... nooo. No, that would be BAD idea. How about...

You know what? Fuck it. I have no faults. I'm perfect.

Your favorite color: Black. Black as a moonless night in a dark cave in the deepest depths of the ocean. Black as Batman's sunny disposition. Black like my soul.

But periwinkle's a close second.

Your favorite heroes in fiction: That cable / pizza delivery guy who's always gettin' some in 70's porn films. Have you seen his mustache? We're talking epic Magnum PI proportions here. You could hibernate three muskrats and an incontinent otter in that thing and not find them until Spring. Proust answered "Hamlet", which is just depressing.

World history characters I hate the most: Proust answered "I am not educated enough," to which I say, good on ya, Marcel. Me either! I'm not fond of that Hitler guy, and I hear that Genghis Khan was kind of a dick, but other than that I don't know anything I don't pick up from episodes of Hoarders and Toddlers In Tiaras, just like God intended.

What is your present state of mind: In my twenties it was "unadulterated panic" most of the time with more than occasional bouts of drunkenness.

Come to think of it that hasn't changed much.

Your favorite motto: Proust's answer, which I suspect sounded much more interesting and snappy in French, was "I should be too afraid that it bring me misfortune." I'm not sure that's really a motto. Maybe he was afraid to say his motto? What motto could bring misfortune? "Damn the torpedoes"? "Remember The Alamo"? "Hey, sailor, wanna dance the hornpipe?"

But me? I don't know. "Carpe Diem" seems a little pretentious, and to be honest, really doesn't fit a procrastinator like me.

How about McDonald's? "I'm Lovin' It!" Did you know Nutella has a motto? I didn't. "Che mondo sarebbe senza nutella" Means something like, "Hey, hot stuff, how'd you like to lick my nutella?"

No? Wait. My bad. That's Jif Peanut Butter.

Point is I don't have a motto. I'm not a motto kind of guy. Mottos are antiquities version of bumper stickers. Bumper stickers are an ineffectual means of communicating my nuanced views on a variety of issues that cannot be reduced to a simple pithy slogan.

What? Oh. I stand corrected.


inkgrrl said...

So we need a bumper sticker with some dried blood on it, is what you're saying?

PS - Your mad "not getting caught skillz" didn't fully extend to your 40s as well as you thought they did. That continues to be part of your charm.

Chris said...

Man, I wish you'd given me the heads-up on your post. I coulda used my April Fools' post to answer a Marcel Marceau questionnaire instead. Woulda been shorter, at least.

"Are you in a box? Wait, now there's a rope? Those aren't even questions!"

Gabi said...

There is something creepy about the sneaking into the diary wearing gloves and face paint. Shudder.

Hilary Davidson said...

Take that, Marcel PrOWst, mime extraordinaire!