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Ps & Qs: Death and Vanity Fair

Sections: Columns Published

By Jeannie Perry


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What really matters at the end of this life; is it fame? Fortune? The one with the most magazine subscriptions wins? In the end, I think it’s the memories. It comes down to how you make others feel because only through the living does our legacy endure. I like the idea that we’re all in this together and at the end we reconnect in stardust. This thought brings me an easy-going, off-the-hook, peace of mind. Like one of my favorite quotes by Ogden Nash- “There is not a shred of evidence that life is serious.” So, I might as well do what makes me feel accomplished and have a little fun along the way.

Death is beneficial in that it gives this life a frame of reference. Without a definitive end, I might be tempted to just sit around and watch the clouds go by. I find it reassuring to know there’s something unknown that comes for each and every living thing on this planet. Without exception. It’s the one thing we all have in common. And while I feel sorrow for our loss, I believe it to be an important part of the journey. Death reminds us to appreciate love; and to get going on that Bucket List…

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Thankfully, death comes for us all, but before it comes for me I want to take the Proust Questionnaire on the last page of Vanity Fair. Then I can die happy. So here goes…


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What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Grocery shopping with my family in a store where I’m unfamiliar with the layout because that means we’re all on vacation together.

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What is your greatest fear?

Anyplace my air depends on a hose.

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Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Identify with—as in, aspire to be? Dorothy Parker.

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Which living person do you most admire?

Elizabeth Warren. I don’t know how she stays so calm.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I worry.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Pretense.

What is your greatest extravagance?

My sunglasses.

What is your favorite journey?

This one.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Cleanliness.

On what occasion do you lie?

When the policeman asks me if I know how fast I was going.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?

My chin.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Dirty Grey Goose martini, please.

What is your greatest regret?

Not smashing the window of a car with a little dog inside, parked in a parking lot in Nevada in June.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Oris

When and where were you happiest?

In my 40s.

Which talent would you most like to have?

The ability to speak in public without sweating profusely.

What is your current state of mind?

Joyful resistance.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

My tendency to wouldn’titbeawfulif (focusing on the worst case scenario.)

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

Not a thing.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I’m trying to put the feminine back in feminist.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?

Stevie Nicks. Or a hawk.

What is your most treasured possession?

The pink and purple horse pillow Gran made for me.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Clinical depression.

Where would you like to live?

In Satank. Or the south of Spain…

What is your favorite occupation?

Circus animal rescuers.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I’m stubborn like a Pagan.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Vulnerability.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Strength.

What do you most value in your friends?

Candor.

Who are your favorite writers?

JD Salinger, Tom Robbins, Beryl Markham, David Sedaris, Inga Muscio, Ernest Hemingway.

Who are your heroes in real life?

CNAs.

What are your favorite names?

Merit and Bear.

What is it that you most dislike?

Our broken political system.

How would you like to die?

Like my friend, Allyn, says; a fatal heart attack at home in the afternoon.

What is your motto?

Leave gates as you find them.

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