Your idea of perfect happiness

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What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being healthy.
What is your greatest fear?
That I won’t be healthy.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Mark Twain.
Which living person do you most admire?
Jimmy Carter.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I’m egotistical, and I’m always bragging.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Putting me on hold while on telephone calls.
What is your greatest extravagance?
It’s changed now, but probably my computers and cameras.
What is your favorite journey?
Paris from 1948 to 1962.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
People who say they’ve got to tell the truth.
On what occasion do you lie?
Only in my column.
Which living person do you most despise?
I despise people who tell me what God wants. They don’t know any more than I do.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
I’m not a clotheshorse. I hate to take haircuts and I hate to shave. I have to shave twice a day. I guess I’m in the same boat as Nixon. He had to shave twice a day, too.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I love you.” I even say it to people I hardly know.
What is your greatest regret?
That by the time this article comes out I might not be here. But knowing that I am going to be in Vanity Fair, I’d like to stick around. If I’m in heaven, I hope I can get the issue there. If not, maybe your circulation department will give a discount to those already up there.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife, Ann, whom I was married to for 40 years.
When and where were you happiest?
Paris, when I was working for the New York Herald Tribune from 1948 to 1962. I owned Paris. I had readership there that I would have never had in the States.
Which talent would you most like to have?
What is your current state of mind?
Terrific. I am happy because I went into the hospital and I’ve gotten a lot of publicity. I now get to see all of my friends and family, and I am able to say good-bye to all of them.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d probably get a new kidney. That would be nice.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
I want them to be happy and to get along with each other. And I want them to miss me.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Making people laugh. I don’t know if it’s an achievement, but I love doing it.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
As I am.
What is your most treasured possession?
All of my writing—my 32 books and all of my columns.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I had two depressions. You can’t get much lower than that.
Where would you like to live?
Washington. Mainly because all of the action is here. I’m not a person who vacations, goes fishing, or plays golf. I just love to work.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’m a big fantasizer.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
If she likes me, I like her. They asked me that about Hillary Clinton. She likes me, and if that’s part of her character, I like her.
What do you most value in your friends?
Who are your favorite writers?
Bob Benchley, E. B. White, Irwin Edman, and all those guys who came out of The New Yorker.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Captain John Yossarian, from Catch-22.
Who are your heroes in real life?
It’s hard in the world I live in to have heroes.
What is it that you most dislike?
Bigotry, people who lie to you, politicians who lie because they have the power to do so—just anybody who tries to BS you.
How would you like to die?
I am in a place now that the chances of me being gone by the time this comes out are pretty good. I have been here for 10 weeks, and I’ve seen all my friends and loved ones. It’s a beautiful place. Where I am now is a wonderful place to go.
What is your motto?
“To be or not to be: that’s a good question.”

Art Buchwaldart 3

For half a century, Art Buchwald has captured the ironies of American life. He reflects on Paris, laughter, and happiness.

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