Monday, October 25, 2010

Characters: King Love

The first interesting person I encountered in Tallahassee was King Love. It was my third day in town and I'd stopped in at the Publix on North Monroe Street to cash a traveler's check. As I was walking toward the exit, I was passed by an older guy with a Santa Claus beard, regular street clothes, a red cape, and a crown.

From then until I left in 1999, he was part of the furniture of the city, usually holding court at North Monroe and Tennessee Streets, where he would hold up signs or props, howl and speak through a bullhorn. It's really too bad that I never paid much attention to him--no photos or video of my own. Aside from that short brush with His Highness in 1995, I was only close-up to him a couple more times, once during services at the Unitarian Universalist church, then a year or so later at a Hungry Howie's. Both times, he came in and disrupted things, scared people with His Kingly wrath, and amused me. But I never knew his name or his story until after I moved away.

Before he was King Love, Kamal Youssef, born in Cairo, Egypt, was a medical doctor in South Florida. His wife died, he broke, and the King was born.

Just a couple of months after I moved away from there, the King died of a heart attack (if I remember right) in 1999, about 2 months after I left.

I've got one of his bullhorns! He had a lifetime warranty with RadioShack. The one I got had a damaged power switch but was otherwise functional, so it ended up on a clearance/damaged table. I think it went for $20.00.

Amazingly, Number Two had never heard of The King, though she'd lived in Tallahassee all or most of her life. I thought _I_ was sheltered.

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