I used to just talk to people and try to do what Gaudino always did. Like Gaudino could walk into a diner in Yazoo City, Miss. and he’d just start talking to the waitress, just a fairly simple question and get them talking about themselves, very gentle questions. Where was she from? Was she always there? Did she like her job? It’s kind of like the old Dale Carnegie thing where people, you ask them about themselves and they think you’re the smartest person in the world, except he wasn’t sucking up to people.

So anyhow, I would just go on and on and on asking people those kind of questions, like there was something more there to get at. What was the essential truth? But I tell you, I wasn’t good at it and I bored the crap out of a lot of people. My friends finally told me, my family told me, an ex-girlfriend told me, “You think too much and you talk too much and you ask too many questions. It’s not that complicated.” This was sort of my courting method, I guess, asking them all these questions. More than one time someone would get up shaking their head, like, “Get me away from this guy. Enough already. Turn it off.” But I flattered myself this is the way you seek knowledge in the Gaudino school. I mean my motives were good. “Let’s talk about why you are what you are.” I probably carried on some of that well into my late 20s.

Dick Slade '74