May 3, 2007

Ten Questions with Paul Testa

Print More

After an entire year of Paul Testa stealing his food, roommate and Sun Staff Writer extraordinaire, Matt Gorman, decided to steal Testa’s gig for the final 10 Questions of the year. Former editors, Olivia Dwyer and Carlos Maycotte gave color commentary.
1. I hope you know this is really quite an honor Paul.
It’s my pleasure Matt. After living next to me for an entire year, I’m sure you have more than a few questions.
No. I don’t think you understand. This is an honor for you. You’re my first and last 10 Questions. How does it feel to be someone’s first?
It’s a little weird, you’re a little nervous and you’re not sure where to put your hands. My first 10 Questions last year with Josh Raff of the men’s tennis team was a s— show. I mean it was great in terms of the content. Raff is to date one of the funniest kids I’ve interviewed, but for the first 10 minutes of that interview I had forgotten to turn on the tape recorder. Ten minutes of 10Qs gold forever lost.
So the first couple of questions you just made up?
No, we reenacted them.
Is reenacting 10 Questions a little bit like role-play? Were you the Mexican apple farmer and he was the apple thief?
As Carlos can attest, I’m no Mexican, and I’ve never farmed apples, but I do love appletinis. What guy doesn’t? But I was tremendously nervous doing that first 10 Qs because I had this amazing legacy to live up to in predecessor at this job, Per Ostman, who was I think class of 1883. But this guy set the bar incredibly high.
2. How did you try to get out of Per’s shadow and develop your own voice?
Well, first off, over the summer I had some chest hare implants done to try and capture some of his gravitas.
[Olivia] More importantly, how were you able to meet the challenges of this job without a receding hairline?
Well, first I wear a hat often, and I’d like to say that I have a high forehead. Although with every shower I take there’s a moment where I look at my hands in horror because they’re covered in hair.
Could we get back to Per please?
Oh, sorry, these were all showers with Per, but you know they were incredibly big shoes to fill. I had the opportunity to tag along on interviews with him and to edit his 10 Questions on the Wednesday nights before they ran. He taught me everything I know about interviewing and how to ask the questions people really have about sports.
3. Do you think the athletes were apprehensive about having these real conversations that went beyond the same five quotes you read in every sports article?
That’s your job as the 10 Questions guy. It’s to get athletes to come out of that shell and really talk about something more than taking it one game at a time and giving it your all. Every interview is a process. You start talking to these athletes about things they’re comfortable with, about their sports, their teams, the roles, and then you move to more interesting questions.
Are people intimidated by Paul Testa?
Certainly not. But I think they are intimidated by the public spotlight of having an entire page of the paper devoted to their cutout and their words.
There’s some blatant sexual innuendo and some not so blatant sexual innuendo in your column. Is that something you’re born with or do you practice with a special partner.
Well, Matt you’ve shared a wall with me for this past semester so you know me. I don’t know if I’d say I’m a sexual being so much as a sensual man, and the sexual innuendo of 10 Questions, like many things, just comes naturally with me. Certainly it helps if you have a good partner though.
4. Let’s talk about some of the athletes that you interviewed. Who were your favorites?
Interviewees are like children and I loved all of them equally, even if I abused most of them. I will say that there’s a different dynamic when you’re interviewing a girl and when you’re interviewing a guy. My first time with Josh Raff was magical. I liked talking to a guy like Topher Scott because we see eye-to-eye on a lot of things.
How hard or easy was it interviewing a hockey player who’s so well-known throughout campus?
Topher was just a great guy, willing to play along and have some fun. It’s kind of weird to actually but we realize he’s also just another student who you might sit next to in Econ.
Who’s actually taller?
I think I may have an inch or two.
He does where skates. You just wear high heels. So what about the ladies?
My personal favorite had to be Jamie Singer from the women’s squash team, because she took all of my harassment and handled it with wit and class. Plus she’s good with a stick and she’s willing to play doubles, which is hard to find in a squash player.
5. Do you think 10 Questions led you to develop “short-guy game?”
Well, like I told Topher Scott on the men’s hockey team, “Everyone’s the same height lying down.” But I’d like to think I’ve always had good short-guy game.
If you consider being able to quote Nietzsche short-guy game.
I think it’s pronounced Nietzsche. Still, I’m not sure if it comes across in the interviews, but I am actually terrified of talking to women.
[Carlos] Are you sure that it’s not just that women are terrified to talk to you?
It could be mutual, but I think one of the beauties of 10 Questions is it’s not Paul Testa talking to a girl, it’s the 10 Questions Guy talking to her. You develop this persona of a guy who can say ridiculous things and ask girls absurd questions like “the type of balls they prefer” and get away with it.
6. What do you think you brought to 10 Questions?
Like I said before the best advice I got from Per was to make 10 Questions my own and to find my own voice, and I think I’ve done that. I think I’ve taken the level of preparation, some say stalking, to a new level, scouring Facebook and badgering teammates for info. That kind of research paid dividends in crazy stunts like getting one girl to stuff 20-some grapes in her mouth, or having senior Claire Perry of the women’s basketball team dance for me. She let it rain and cleared it out.
With a soda on the side?
Well, here’s the thing about Claire Perry, she talks a good game, but she doesn’t follow through with her commitments.
She was supposed to come to your birthday party wasn’t she?
She was, and you know I’m still waiting for a card, or some flowers.

7. You have a pretty long Cornell tradition. Will your son Fabio Cannavaro Testa also go to Cornell?
Wow, you’ve done your research. Fabio can go to school wherever he wants as long as it’s not Princeton because Friday nights aren’t so big there. If he chooses to go to Cornell I’m sure he’ll be very happy.
[Olivia] Why would you name your son Fabio Cannavaro?
[Carlos] I feel like there’s a big man crush there.

[Saddened] I don’t know if you’ve heard of this thing. It happened last summer. It’s called the World Cup …
Carlos brought up an interesting word, man crush. Is there anything you’d like to get out in the open about certain ex-football player and Sun columnist?
This is going to be awkward. Patrick Blakemore is a stellar writer, columnist, football player and human being. There’s a reason he holds for extra points. Blakemore has the best hands on the football team.
[Interviewers reconsider all the time they’ve spent with Testa]
Here’s the thing. Blakemore would come down to the Sun to edit, and every double X chromosome in the office would start going haywire. Their ears would prick up, and it look like they were punch drunk on some pheromone. That didn’t happen when I walked into the office.
[Laughing]
I tried rubbing his football jersey on me hoping some of his musk would rub off, but no, Pat is great kid and hope still a friend after this question. It’s weird to have one your peers be someone that you really admire, but he’s definitely one them.
[Carlos] This is really awkward.
8. Let’s change gears with a hypothetical question. Say I have a friend. His name may be Lucifer or Satan, what would you trade him for an Indians World Series victory?
Almost anything as long as we beat those damn Yankees. Get him on the phone. We’ll start talking trades. I’m not sure how much my soul is worth these days, and Per stole Dice-K from my fantasy team. Could I possibly interest your friend in Freddy Sanchez? But frankly, I think the Indians have a good shot at it this year. If you’d talked to me back in 1994, we could have talked.
I’m going to steal a 10-year-old’s soul.
I see you didn’t go to Catholic school. I love their lineup this year. They’re rotation is as good any in the A.L. and I’m pretty happy with their bullpen. Defense is what worries me, and so if I had make a deal with the Devil, I might go with slick fielding third baseman, that can hit for average.
9. What does the future hold for Paul Testa?
Well, I hear there’s a position open on my parents’ couch. The salary’s not great but the benefits are solid and I’ve got some good references. I think if I had any balls, I’d try to go into writing because that’s what I’ve enjoyed most about my time at Cornell and at the Sun.
Would you ever try to go into sports writing or are you worried you’d lose some of that love for sports if you had to make a living on it?
I think every guy would love to be in the press box of Game 7 or national championship, but I’ve gotten to see some AP beat writers in my time at Cornell. The vast majority of them are balding, overweight, and type with their index fingers. It’s just a really tough lifestyle with tough hours and bad pay and it’s incredibly hard to make it. Still if Page 2 is hiring interviewers, I’d be willing to listen.
10. What’s the hottest women’s varsity team at Cornell?
Come on, you know you want to ask me, what’s the hottest men’s team at Cornell?
If that’s the one you want to start with.
I have a definitive answer for that one. I have to say men’s lacrosse.
Is it the variation in stick size that attracts you?
Variety is the spice of life, but I’m a shameless groupie willing to hop on a No. 1 team like, well never mind. [Senior co-captain] Mitch Belisle was a classy guy, and the whole team has a classy program. But the day I fell in love, was a magic rainy Saturday in Princeton last year. I saw the men’s lacrosse team beat the Tigers, 4-3 and you would have thought it was a home game with all the Cornell fans there. Amazing.
So what you’re saying is you like crowds.
The more the merrier. Now, what’s tough is I feel like I’ll be disappointing a lot of women —
[Dwyer interrupts] Not at Cornell.
[Ignoring Dwyer] — because there are a lot of attractive teams and a lot beautiful women. So I’d like to go through some reasoning. First, as much as I love you Carlos, I have a huge literary crush on Shannon Scarseletta, a Sun columnist and sophomore forward on the women’s basketball team. But Claire Perry broke my heart so they’re out.
Second, I work at the Reis Tennis Center so I see a lot of the women’s tennis teams. They’re great girls, and always say hello to me, but we’re too close for me to pick them. I’m going to have to go with a dark horse and pick the equestrian team.
[Carlos] You just like the way they ride their horses.
If they can handle a 2,000-pound beast, I think they’re up to the challenge of Paul Testa. I covered this team several times! I’ve been to the stables and seen them ride and they’re some very beautiful ladies.
Yeah, but they’re running around in shit.
I like a girl who’s willing to get dirty, and on the right girl, riding britches are really hot.
What about that weird helmet they have to wear?
Well, that’s because I have a headboard.
To me the helmets are like the big sunglasses; You don’t get an accurate idea of what the girl looks like.
That’s never stopped me before, and they all look the same with the lights off. But all off- color jokes aside, they’re some very attractive girls who are very good at what they do, and they deserve more love in the paper than they get. That and they’ve got great legs.
Paul Testa is a Sun Senior Writer. 10 Questions has appeared most Thursdays this year, and Testa is incredibly thankful for all who put up with him for so long. Questions and comments may be sent to ptesta@cornellsun.comCome on, you know you want to ask me, what’s the hottest men’s team at Cornell?