One thing even the best tennis bag cannot do

Today I headed out to play on the 102nd court in my quest to play on every public court in Los Angeles. The journey started out with a fresh sense of adventure and finished with a satisfying combined feeling of friendship and accomplishment. In between, however, came a humiliating embarrassment caused 100 percent by me, and soon I’ll tell you all about it.

But first, let’s talk about adventure. I just love setting forth from my house, ocean breeze wafting, sun on my face because LA’s June Gloom has temporarily lifted. With my handsome black Geau Sport bag feeling comfy on my back, I felt pretty dang good about life while walking to the bus stop.

I could drive. Daddy Volvo and Mommy Volvo sit side-by-side in me and my wife’s driveway, practically holding hands, but it is my feeling that combusting gasoline on what is really a leisure pursuit would diminish the quest. There are times when you really do have to drive, but going to play tennis on every court in Los Angeles is not one of them — unless, as is very rarely the case, it’s a matter of not inconveniencing my tennis partner. And sometimes I do get public transit fatigue and will treat myself to a smooth ride with the radio up loud.

But 90-plus percent of the time, I’m on the bus or train. I felt solid sitting in the wayback of the 33 Venice, all-in for the bus hums and rumbles, the wide windows showing the glamor of the palm trees and the tragedy of homeless encampments. I feel very One with the City riding the bus. My Geau Sport bag slots right into the space behind the second-to-rear seats, as if that was a luggage compartment made especially for me to stash my gear.

It feels like I took an infinity of buses today. As a 61-year-old, I like feeling that the adventure has no end. An informal count says one, two, three buses there and two more buses back.

I live in Mar Vista on the Westside, about four miles from the ocean, and was heading northeast of downtown LA to Alhambra’s Granada Park, to meet my new friend Kariavandan. I had posted a “hey, it’s sunny out, who wants to play” note on social media, and he said let’s do it, so that made us instant friends. I was hoping to get there early, but realized after bus number 3 that the two hour and fifteen minute trip was actually going to take two hours and forty five minutes, and so I would alas be late.

This was not my worst realization of the day.

My worst realization of the day was when I finally arrived at the court, apologized for my tardiness, opened my bag and saw no tennis racquets inside.

Ohhhhhhhh nooooooooooo! It was suddenly and way too late clear that my racquets were where I had left them last night, in my bike panniers.

Did Kariavandan have a spare racquet?

No he did not. Usually he does but he popped a string. Fair enough. This was not on Kariavandan. This was on me. Even the best tennis bag in the world cannot pack your racquets. You have to take responsibility.

I did three things.

  1. I sat on the courtside bench with my jaw dropped and face slack.
  2. I passed on the opportunity to call myself mean names.
  3. I asked Karivandan if there was a sporting goods store nearby.

Sure enough there was, and he displayed tremendous graciousness in driving me over there. This would have broken a major rule about getting into a car with a stranger, but we were not strangers — although we didn’t know it when making our plan online, we knew each other from an Asian-American & Pacific Islander tennis celebration in Monterey Park we both attended two weekends ago. Even though neither of us is AAPI, we celebrated heartily and that made this a reunion.

I picked out a new racquet real quick. Then we drove back and had ourselves a jolly good time. I did not double fault, not even once, and he hit many a winner. Then he was also kind enough to drop me off at the corner of Atlantic and Main where the bus came right along to take me safely home.

One comment

  1. All’s well that ends well. Or so it is said.
    I wonder if hitch-hiking has gone down in our country. I must consult the Internet.
    Shout out to Panniers. Friend or foe?

Leave a Reply