Friday, November 12, 2010

The Samplers

When I think back to the two people who stand out the most were Paul and Kit. Paul on Sunday morning would walk to the end of the walkway that lead up to the door of his apartment complex. He would pop open his lawn chair and plop down like a dumpling falling into soup. Stretching and crossing his legs in front of him, his heavy sliver bangs fell across his forehead he'd read the Sunday news. During the day, Paul did computer then spent his free time coffeehouse hopping and reading the newspaper. He could always be found in a nearby coffee shop in downtown Ann Arbor. Paul was soft spoken; his speech meticulous. Listening to him speak, time seemed to slow down with every word. His speech pulled the listener in. When I met him, he disclosed to me that he likes to travel, especially in Italy. While traveling, he found an old wheelchair, disassembled the wheels and attached them to his suitcase.

On Wednesday Paul would meet his friend Kit at the Amsterdam Espresso, where coffee refills are free. Kit was tall with brown curly hair, wild like lightening. He wore cargo pants and an army green flannel He never spoke in my presence. Kit used to be an artist, a sculptor,but he got struck by lightning and lost his ability to create with his hands. He liked to host gallery open houses and invite wineries to hold samplings, bringing more people in. This way he squeezed the most out of the event while boosting sales.

On Saturday Paul and Kit's favorite outing besides getting coffee is getting free food. Their favorite place to hang is Whole Foods. They enjoy going there for the free food samples the store offers. When Kit goes to Whole Foods he carries a crystal cylinder mug and sips tea. He moseys around the store and talks to the staff while sampling food. Paul by his side. But sampling free food occasionally is not enough for Paul and Kit. Their urges for free food become an adrenaline rush, an addiction, that they are unable to curb. It has become an everyday ritual. They hide themselves, behind support beams, pressed up as flat as can be, paper plates hidden in Kit's cargo pants. Just a few strides away from each other, clutching their plates, slowly creeping out with one foot. They make sure that nobody sees them. Each take turns dashing over to fill up their plates with free food. After each outing they returned to their hideout. Now I only see Paul around town alone. He visits all the coffee houses, but I don't know what happen to Kit.

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