AW Day of Listening
Fishing for Facts: A Conversation with Silver King

By Celina Summers

Of all the many admirable people on AW, I don’t know why I ended up with a huge crush on Silver King—or Dino, as he’s known in real life. I mean, I’m not that big on fishing—I like them already dead, cooked, and garnished with capers and lemon on a nice porcelain plate. But there was something about Dino that spoke to me in a language I found impossible to ignore. I decided for the sake of my sanity, I needed to explore the reasons for that.

Once again, I started with the boring stuff. Straight up psychoanalysis: tell me about yourself. Silver King’s answer was straight and to the point: “Married with four children and three grandchildren, with another on the way. Forty-six years old. Two degrees (English and Education). Published in Field & Stream magazine.”

My first thought was Wow, he gets paid?

I already had a reason to be jealous.

Dino continued. “I married young, so my focus was centered on raising a family early on. I was a teacher for a couple of years at a junior college then had the opportunity to start a business. I've owned a company ever since.”

I wanted more information. “What was the one thing you swore you'd never do with your life?”

“Get married at a young age.”

“Did you end up doing it and why?”

“I fell in love, the head over heels type of love. I'm still crazy about my wife and I fall in love with her all over again on average of once or twice per year. It's happened about fifty times now!”

Well, damn. There goes my crush.

After I suffered through the disappointment, a thought occurred to me. How rare that was, how utterly amazing that a man who is only *mumble mumble* years older than I could be such a romantic and loyal sort of person! I mean, the divorce statistics for the generation that Silver King and I share are staggering. Once upon a time, I’d added to them. Dino hadn’t and was proud enough of that fact to share it with me. He had to be a pretty special sort of dude. I needed to learn more.

“What brought you to the path of the writer?”

“I don't consider myself a writer, but more of a literary hobbyist. Until about five years ago, I hadn't written anything except school papers and business letters.”

“Is writing a compulsion or a calculated plan?”

“A compulsion, for sure. I was curious to know if I could write well enough to be published in a top tier magazine.”

Up to this point, his answers had been honest but succinct. It was obvious that I needed to delve deeper, that somewhere there had to be a question that would tell me more about this enigmatic gentleman with an unfortunate fish fetish. “If you could go back to the age of twenty, what would you change now that would affect your situation today?” I looked back at the answers I’d gotten to this point and added, “Nothing is an acceptable answer.”

“I would've waited a few years to have children. By then, I already had two. I still managed to work and go to school full time, but it was very, very difficult.”

I thought about some of Silver King’s posts and remembered that, despite his assertions to the contrary, he was a great storyteller. So, handing him a cyber beer to lower his inhibitions, I ventured, “Tell me a story, one that shows how you handled a moment of great decision.”

He thought for a few minutes, killing off the beer much quicker than I thought a normal human being could, and then he spoke. “I was on a friend's boat in rough seas when the motor conked out. There were no life preservers on board. We were surrounded by an angry sea that tossed the vessel to and fro, the winds howling and salt water stinging our eyes. Unable to steer the boat into the waves, it was only a matter of time before we'd be swamped or the vessel would overturn. I told my friend that our only hope was to abandon ship. He looked at me as if I had gone mad.

“’I can't swim,’ he said. ‘You know that.’

“I emptied the contents of a large storage cooler and tied a dock line to each handle.

“’You won't have to,’ I said. ‘Give me your hand.’

“I lashed one of the lines to his wrist and the other to my own arm. We held the cooler before us and on the count of three we jumped into the roiling sea.

“The cooler was perfectly buoyant and held our upper bodies as we paddled with our legs. The wind was at our backs and we rode a following sea toward shore. Now and then, we'd turn to see the boat floundering and finally it was overcome by a mountain of waves and disappeared.

“It took four hours to reach land, during which I used every opportunity to give my friend a hard time for leaving his life jackets at home.

“He was quiet most of the way.

“’I said, ‘Was the boat insured?’

“He shook his head.

“’It wasn't?’

“’No, it wasn't. Are you happy now?’

“Yes, I was happy: Happy to be alive.”

You know, that’s a very revealing story for any person to tell. Here’s the rub: there are so many things about Dino I—and probably you—want to know. After the story he’d just told me, I wanted to delve into something more ethereal, more intimate. I could only hope he would trust me enough to share these things with me. I took a deep breath (scared right out of my wits) and asked, “What is the most perfect scene you've ever witnessed—a moment of such beauty and significance that it sticks in your mind constantly?”

I was expecting a comment about the sunset over the ocean, or the silent, silvery beauty of the sea under a full moon. But something in Dino changed at that moment. He was suddenly diffident, as if he felt that I would mock his response. His voice was quiet. Not his actual speaking voice, but the voice that whispers ‘I am a writer and this is what I think’ in the heads of only a very few special people.

“I walked into the room and saw her sitting with some friends. Someone motioned me to the table. She smiled and offered her hand. When I touched her, a shock burned through me, all heat and buzzing electricity that sent blood roiling through my senses like wild rapids cresting and falling and cresting again. I grew dizzy as my shoes seemed to melt into the floor. I sat next to her. She leaned in close, her lips almost touching my cheek, and whispered her name. I tasted her breath, hot and sweet. Then my chest expanded as she entered my soul, forever embossed upon the true essence of my being.

“Though many years have passed since then, I still feel the intensity of that first gaze, and how even when I look upon her now, there continues an upheaval of emotions that fuels a desire that can never be quenched.”

When Dino and I discussed this interview, he was worried about this specific statement, this declaration of the immediacy of love and desire that every mortal wants to experience and so few of us find. I am fortunate enough to understand what Dino was saying, because I am blessed enough to have experienced it myself. But for this man, a man who can feel so deeply and who can see so intuitively into his own psyche to make such a confession to me—the smartass on the other end of the line—was an honor that blew me right out of my chair.

No one could contrive such an emotional experience; one can either live it or envy it.

I choked up. I admit it. I couldn’t go back to smartalec after that.

“What do you think is the single most important gift a parent can give to a child?”

“Humility. Children need to learn modesty at a young age, to understand that, though their accomplishments are significant and should be rewarded, there's no need for them to boast or to ever think they're better than anyone else.”

“What is the most underrated human characteristic or, conversely, the most overrated?”

“In our society, one of the most underrated characteristics is greed. In many instances it's celebrated as the American Way, the idea that you should build personal wealth, and to hell with everyone else. The most overrated has to be physical beauty. Nothing means less than outer looks when inner splendor is lacking.”

I couldn’t doubt it any longer. I could learn a lot from Dino. I’d always known that in the back of my mind, but this conversation, this interchange of trust had confirmed it for me beyond question. So for my final inquiry, I asked him a question that I have often asked myself—and have not yet been able to answer.

“If you could wake up in one of your dreams and find that it was reality, what would you want that dream to be?”

“It would be nice to wake up twenty-five years ago and have a chance to reshape my life. I've made a number of poor decisions I'd like to have back. Though I don't dwell on the past too much, I'd love to have one or two ‘do-overs’ that continue to haunt me and will gnaw at my conscience for the rest of my days.”

How wonderful a feeling it was for me at that moment! I realized that he had answered my deepest and most difficult question for me. We know Dino as Silver King at Absolute Write. I now know Dino as something more.

I know him as my friend.