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Yvonne Abraham

Charlie Baker takes the Proust Questionnaire

In the heat of an election’s final weeks, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there are actual, complex, likable people behind the invective. So this week, to remind us of who they are, the candidates for governor submitted themselves — with disarming generosity — to the Proust Questionnaire. So-called because the French writer Marcel Proust took it, the quiz is a fixture in Vanity Fair magazine, from which this version has shamelessly been cribbed.

First up, Charlie Baker, the Republican candidate.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Spending time with family

What is your greatest fear?

Losing a child


What is the trait you most dislike in yourself?


What is the trait you most dislike in others?


Which living person do you most admire?

My dad

Which living person do you most despise?

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

What is your greatest extravagance?

My Mustang. I’ve had it for 34 years, it’s like a member of the family.

What is your current state of mind?

Excited and exhausted

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?


On what occasion do you lie?

To protect someone’s feelings

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Let me say three things about that.”

When and where were you happiest?

A single day? My wedding day. A time? When the kids were all young and we got to do stuff as a family.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My wife, Lauren.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Any musical talent

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

I wish I could dance.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Raising three great kids. Saving Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?


Coach Taylor, from “Friday Night Lights” — and I could live forever in reruns.

What is your most treasured possession?

My 66 Mustang, which I paid $300 for in 1980 and painstakingly restored

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Watching my mother (who has Alzheimer’s) disappear before my eyes

What is your most marked characteristic?

My height

What do you most value in your friends?

Loyalty, honesty, and a sense of humor

Who is your hero of fiction?

Atticus Finch

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Edwin Stanton, the Democrat who was the all-star in Lincoln’s cabinet

Who are your heroes in real life?

My grandfather; Bill Weld; Deb Jackson (president of Cambridge College, former Red Cross CEO, on the board of Harvard Pilgrim during the turn-around)

Who are your favorite writers?

Harper Lee, Stephen King, Marcus Luttrell, Michael Kelly (the award-winning journalist from Swampscott who died in Iraq)

What is your greatest regret?

Not going to Hamilton College. I never really felt comfortable at Harvard.

How would you like to die?

Of old age, in my sleep

What is your motto?

Let’s get stuff done.

Yvonne Abraham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at abraham@globe.com