Meet Shakeel Alexander (Thanks, Proust)!

Hello, my name is Shakeel Alexander.

I’m a Digital Marketing Intern at LUMINUS.

On day two of my internship at LUMINUS, I was tasked with writing something about myself. This is often difficult for me, considering that I’m changing my mind about everything, EVERY DAY. 

 And just like that, the Proust Questionnaire fell into my inbox.

“…lazy days on a hammock with a life supply of Hot Pockets.”

For those who don’t know, the Proust Questionnaire stemmed from 13-year old Marcel Proust, a famous French novelist of the early 20th century. As an attendee at a birthday party, Proust was asked to answer 15 questions. (I know it sounds boring but party games like this were not uncommon in the late 19th century. This is OBVIOUSLY because Chuck E. Cheese wasn’t invented yet.)

So you’re probably thinking, what’s so special about this questionnaire? I answer questions everyday.

Well, at 13 Marcel answered these questions with grace and a unique flair that illustrated why he’d become a great writer. Let’s see if my answers measure up to his.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Proust: To be separated from Mama
My answer:  Watching my money separate from my checking account because of the dark evils that come in the form of bills.

Where would you like to live?

Proust: In the country of the Ideal, or, rather, of my ideal
My answer: An island where ideals come in the form of lazy days on a hammock with a life supply of Hot Pockets.

“…I LOVE Aubrey Plaza.”

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Proust: To live in contact with those I love, with the beauties of nature, with a quantity of books and music, and to have, within easy distance, a French theater
My answer:  To live in contact with the closest Starbucks, with the beauties of a 24/7 gym membership, with a quantity of vintage comic books, and to have within easy distance, a French Fry food truck.

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?

Proust: To a life deprived of the works of genius
My answer:  To a life of extreme procrastination.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?

Proust: Those of romance and poetry, those who are the expression of an ideal rather than an imitation of the real
My answer:  The Baudelaire children. (They’re so resourceful in each book of the series. Good Job Mr. Snicket)

Craving: “…food, scented candles and a Barnes & Noble gift card.”

Who are your favorite characters in history?

Proust: A mixture of Socrates, Pericles, Mahomet, Pliny the Younger and Augustin Thierry
Your answer: A mixture of Thoreau, Ghandi, and Kanye when he’s not busy being obnoxious.

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?

Proust: A woman of genius leading an ordinary life
My answer: My mother. 

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?

Proust: Those who are more than women without ceasing to be womanly; everything that is tender, poetic, pure and in every way beautiful
Your answer:  Regina from Once Upon a Time. Over the past few seasons, she’s become the perfect blend of gentle and being one bad mother…when she has to be.

Who is your favorite painter?

Proust: Meissonier
My answer:  Keith Harring.

Who is your favorite musician?

Proust: Mozart
My answer: Carlos Santana.

The quality you most admire in a man?

Proust: Intelligence, moral sense
My answer:  The ability to endure the pressures of society and still wear the same shirt for two weeks.

The quality you most admire in a woman?

Proust: Gentleness, naturalness, intelligence
My answer:  The ability to endure the pressures of society and still go to work the next day. 

What is your favorite virtue?

Proust: All virtues that are not limited to a sect: the universal virtues
My answer: When people actually call/ text to see if I’m still alive.

What is your favorite occupation?

Proust: Reading, dreaming, and writing verse
My answer:  Thinking about my favorite brands and dreaming up crazy ad campaigns for them.

“…weird love affairs, altercations with angry meter maids, and unintended falls to the ground.”

Who would you have liked to be? 

Proust: Since the question does not arise, I prefer not to answer it. All the same, I should very much have liked to be Pliny the Younger.
Your answer: I would love to trade places with Chris Pine’s character on Parks and Recreation because I LOVE Aubrey Plaza.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Proust: A craving to be loved, or, to be more precise, to be caressed and spoiled rather than to be admired
Your answer:  A craving for people to carelessly bring me care packages involving food, scented candles, and a Barnes & Noble gift card.

What do you most value in your friends?

Proust: Tenderness – provided they possess a physical charm which makes their tenderness worth having
Your answer: Entertainment- provided that it involves weird love affairs, altercations with angry meter maids, and unintended falls to the ground.

What is your principle defect?

Proust: Lack of understanding; weakness of will
Your answer:  Lack of understanding for any sport that is not soccer, which stems from lack of care about anything that is not soccer.


Thanks to Proust, this is what is currently my mind from day two of my time here at LUMINUS. Maybe I’ll post another in a month or so.

(Editor’s note: Vanity Fair has a tradition of asking famous personalities to answer the Proust Questionnaire. Check out responses from David BowieLouis C.K. and Amy Poehler.)