26. I hate going fast. I don’t like riding in fast cars, don’t like roller coasters, I don’t even go too fast on my bicycle.
27. On a related note, cars themselves bore me. If you put a gun to my head and asked me to pick a certain make or model out of a line-up, I’d be a dead man.
28. I’ve never done drugs. Even my doctor doesn’t believe this, but it’s true. And I feel like the ship has sailed – if I were going to smoke pot, by now I would have smoked pot. People keep predicting that my trip to Amsterdam will somehow change this. I can’t imagine how, unless the customs officials at Schipol Airport greet me by shoving a hash cookie into my mouth.
29. I get drunk faster than anybody I’ve ever met. A half glass of red wine makes me flush and stumble over words. I don’t feel a nice glow or happy buzz, but I do wake up the next day with a killer hangover. So I don’t drink.
30. I once wanted to be a professional chef, and tested the waters by working in the kitchen of a high-end caterer. I met an awful lot of people with prison records, many of whom had a way with puff pastry and sauce bearnaise.
31. I don’t wear sneakers outside the gym. (When I’m not dressed for work, I’m usually wearing boots of one kind or another.)
32. In my personal pantheon of heroes and heroines, women outnumber men 2 to 1.
33. When I lived in Boston, people assumed from my appearance that I was Jewish. In Chicago, the usual assumption is that I am Hispanic. Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever guessed my background correctly without any clues.
34. I don’t do drag.
35. I was so overcome with emotion when I visited the tomb of Queen Elizabeth I in Westminster Abbey that I cried. (Quietly, but persistently.)
36. On my first trip to New York City, at age 18, instead of being scared or overwhelmed, I was instead delighted to finally be in a city where people walk at the same pace I do.
37. The first part I ever performed in a play was Tooth Decay in an elementary school melodrama called The Perils of Pearl White. With a few exceptions, I was typecast as villains ever after.
38. A former partner of mine got me interested in acoustic recordings, which is the reason I now have a 1906 Victrola and 100 lbs of opera 78s in my apartment. (Please do not ask me how much your grandmother’s Carusos are worth. You won’t like the answer: About two bucks each, if you’re lucky. My favorite acoustic era singer is Nellie Melba.)
39. I was a Boy Scout for about a year. Hated it. I’m sure my parents were disappointed that I quit as soon as I possibly could. They might have been less so if I’d been able to tell them about the drinking and smoking that were the chief features of every campout. (The crawling into each others’ sleeping bags at night, I had no problem with.)
40. When I was a kid in Catholic School, I overdosed on Lives of the Saints and spent about a year desperately wanting to see a vision or experience a miracle. Sadly, the Virgin Mary was reluctant to show herself in central Ohio (and I don’t blame her).
41. I loved Latin in high school. Loved it. In a perfect world, I would be able to devote time every day to improving my knowledge of the language, for the sheer joy it gives me. Latin did all the things for my brain that mathematics was supposed to do, and did not. It should be offered as an option to every high school student, in lieu of trig and algebra.
42. The first high school I went to, Damien Memorial High School, a sorry pile of concrete in Honolulu named after Father Damien DeVeuster (a saintly man who worked with lepers on the island of Molokai), was such a horrible place I still have fantasies about bulldozing it. Aside from Latin, I learned nothing except a healthy disrespect for authority. Two wasted years of terror alternating with boredom.
43. Everything I know about comic timing, I learned from “Sesame Street.”
44. I think most parents I’ve met in the past 10 years or so are doing a lousy job of raising their children, mostly by being too permissive.
45. I wish I had a dog. (Pets are verboten under my current lease.)
46. I think Provençal cuisine has been done to death and is largely overrated.
47. Even in years when I know I’m getting a refund, I hate doing my taxes.
48. I am allergic to fish and seafood.
49. I have at various times had lessons in violin, French horn, baritone horn, and piano. I was absolutely dreadful at every one of them.
50. I want a new job.