#479 Loyola Marymount / Benny’s

College tennis

I had heard you could play on the Loyola Marymount courts on the weekend; but here it was Monday and my brand-new friend and tennis partner L was saying let’s go there. I’m glad we did because they are beautiful courts that let you feel like you played college tennis.

The first two courts we tried elsewhere were full, which was inconvenient but I’m taking the broader view which is that it’s good for the game. The one single magnificent court at the Randy Johnson Bluff Creek Fields was taken; but fortunately I had already scoped it out earlier in the day and made a funny video, which counts on playing on it so now only 479 to go!

Westchester, also full, but that’s okay because I’ve played there before, practicing with my tennis team last season, which led me to jot down my all-time most important post-it note:

“Get better at tennis.”

I am not playing with that team this season. I kind of can’t believe it, I’ve burned through another team, this is what it must feel like to be married seven times. I blame myself.

I blame myself for screaming “BULLSHIT” when guys called my serve out during practice games. That’s not cool. The guys I was playing actually said that, and the rational part of me agreed, but the rational part was just a tiny portion and while the daddy portion was like f.u., you know that was in, cheaters. I was under the delusion that you got some mulligans for unsporting behavior in team tennis, though this has never been the case in sports or in life, either. Combine that loutishness with eh play and you can understand why even though that team made it to Sectionals — a huge deal among recreational team tennis players — I didn’t play in any of those games, and I don’t hear the coach calling me up to ask if I’m down to play again.

Sigh! Maybe I will learn some grace from this quest to play on every public court in LA. You can indeed walk on to the Loyola Marymount courts. I recommend parking along 80th Street and Loyola Boulevard and then walking north onto campus ’til you hit the athletic center; then turn right and you’ll see ’em. Great blue and green hardcourts with well-tended nets and benches and umpire chairs you can climb right up in to think big thoughts.

I tried but didn’t have any. I am still stuck between my intention of playing in full flow state, just letting my body do what it knows how to do, and the reality of endless mind-chatter telling me HIT HARD and don’t slice, stop it with the slicing, slicing reveals your sarcastic nature, it’s bad, don’t do it.

Would you feel like hitting out like a natural-born tennis animal if your mind was calling you names? Yeah, well, as I said to my affable new friend, who was in a good mood on account of thumping me, “One thing I like about tennis is that there’s always a lot to work on.”

*

He recommended Pepe’s Red Taco truck as the best taco in the neighborhood; but it’s closed on Monday so I went to Benny’s Tacos and Chicken Rotisserie instead, because I liked the sign. Benny has bulging eyes and a flowing mustache and a jaunty green cap, but none of them can help him make up his mind between the taco in his left hand and the rotisserie chicken floating anti-gravitationally off to his right.

I squared the circle by ordering the rotisserie chicken taco. I’m not a hero, I just did what anyone would do. I also got a Topo Chico instead of a licuado porque when I was playing earlier I was thinking, dude, shed a couple pounds and you might go after some of those balls you are just watching bounce right by you. Topo Chico is cold and bubbly and rhymes and has excellent heft so I felt good about that choice.

I felt great about the taco which was a beautiful arrangement of radish and cilantro and a blessing of tomato pulp. The chicken was beatified. I had to make the choice we each make time and time again over the course of our lifetimes between green and red sauce and here yet again I showed wisdom by designating the salsa verde for chips and the salsa picante for the taco proper. It made me gasp. It made me sputter. I felt alive. I liked it!

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky is the author of The Gift is to the Giver: Chronicles of a 21st Century Decade (Keppie Usage, 2022). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Sun, and Lit Hub. Mark’s essay, “Gritty All Day Long,” is anthologized by Norton and featured in Best American Sports Writing. He has been writing since his emergence as a gigantic music nerd in early-1970’s San Antonio, Texas. Stints as a regular commentator on public radio’s Marketplace and Internet 1.0 exec preceded a 20-year run as a public school teacher. Marko’s favorite writing topics include unorthodox pedagogy, well-intended gardening, and the intersection of baseball and urban bicycling. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he is working on a new book about his quest to play tennis on every free public court in LA.

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