You might wonder, was it really worth it traveling two and a half hours there by bus and train and then two and half hours back by bus and train, just to get trounced 6-1, 6-1.
I mean, I don’t think you would wonder that. One might wonder. You, I know, recognize that it’s a journey and adventure; a tribute to my younger-by-two-minutes daughter who gave me the idea; and performance art with the theme of bearing witness during hard times for my adopted hometown. The score is incidental, unless I win.
Which was not gonna be happening today because Thai Nguyen is fresh off playing at Nationals and — ’nuff said. If you ever want to see a guy return all your shots at a crisp angle about two racquet lengths beyond your reach, play Thai Nguyen! He did what I would do, which is cruise to 4-0 and then suddenly start double-faulting and becoming majestically generous about calling borderline shots in. I appreciate him being a good sport!
Afterwards he suggested I go play at this tournament where you qualify for Nationals, like he did. He had a great time playing on clay, which sounds like the tennis version of playing with mud. And by that I mean, primal satisfaction. He was so enthusiastic that I looked into it and it sounds like the next one is next year sometime; meanwhile, the underlying idea of making even more new tennis friends while getting better at the sport — that makes total sense to me. I can start signing up for Liveball sessions at any of the 150 or so courts that I have yet to play on. I think that’s the next step for me, and it is really good to know what your next step is.
Speaking of steps, yeah I took a lot of ’em getting to the four well-maintained courts at Leffingwell Ranch Park in Whittier. Let’s see here, the 33 to the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus 3 to the Metro C Line to the Norwalk Transit 108. Yessir!
The sheer squeakiness of the Big Blue Bus stands out.
Also of note on this trip was how many sheriffs in body armor boarded the C line to check fare cards. This is because LA’s mass transit system is descending into chaos and there has been lots of publicity about how the trains in particular are just rolling drug havens. People are also getting stabbed and killed. It’s quite the living nightmare, if you choose to see it that way.
The way I see it, you can’t give up on your city’s mass transit system. I contribute a little bit of citizenship just by riding around, not playing loud music, not eating and drinking except okay maybe a sip of water here, a road cashew there. I don’t take up two seats even though my tennis bag is bulky. The announced says all that about loud music and eating and drinking and not taking up two seats so I am trying to lead, very low-key, by example.
I don’t actually expect anyone to follow me, and so far people are living up to expectations. I see more people with open cans of beer and the usual number of people either trying to be hidden under street-stained blankets or sprawled out in the open with their legs extended into the aisle. Sometimes it’s wet around those folks and you just take a deep mouth-breath in and move on. I hardly ever change cars on the Metro though because the next car is gonna be as bad if not worse.
Still, you can’t give up on your city’s mass transit system. For one thing, bad stuff can also happen to you on your bike. And it’s not like you can run from or ignore the homelessness and poverty and mental illness that emerge as livid symptoms on the Metro. Simply recognizing and sitting with them is part of the quest.
I noticed a bunch of other sheriffs in body armor getting on the E line to Santa Monica the other day, and I thought to myself, “Should I be getting on this train at the same time as all these guys in body armor?” I really did not have a good answer.
I did get off a train recently when a guy who had been wearing a security guard jacket took off not only his jacket but also his shirt, the better to fight some woman who he thought had called him a B. She denied having called him a B but since he was so aggressive she went ahead and said well now that you mention it.
This really aggravated him and they were about to scuffle when a fellow passenger of significant girth inserted himself between the combatants, which I thought was really foolhardy. I myself got off that train because, no thank you. It rattled me so much that when I got on the next train it took me a while to realize it was headed in the wrong direction.
“The way I see it, you can’t give up on your city’s mass transit system.”
“The score is incidental, unless I win.”
Somehow these two phrases seemed contradictory, but now I’m seeing it more like a paradox.
Universal truth rules the day.