#455, Valencia Glen Park

I barely made the bus up to Santa Clarita and by barely I mean, I ran across the street waving my arms ’til the busdriver pulled over. I woulda been bummmmmed to miss the bus but instead I was joyous:

I often find myself feeling this way during this tennis quest. The combination of setting forth on adventures and meeting new people and literally running around for a couple of hours playing tennis all contribute to a steady state of ebullience. Which I am prone to anyway. Here for example is just a couple minutes later, when the bus crests the Sepulveda Pass and suddenly it’s just me and the San Fernando Valley. I burst into song!

This adventure started out jolly and stayed that way. I played with my new friend R at Valencia Glen Park, which has two good-lookin’ tennis courts surrounded by tall pine trees. We really just warmed up there because R wanted to take me to his tennis club, which was swell of him. We played a couple of sets there, good clean fun, the main point being don’t let up until 5-0. Then you can let the other guy get his, especially since you’re his guest at his swanky club.

Speaking of the other guy, here is a note I jotted on the way home:

Somebody is rocking “Walk on By” in the Isaac Hayes version here on the E headed from DTLA to Culver City.

I would ask this semi-full train “Quien le gusta Isaac Hayes?” but that would break one of the most important rules: Do Not Interact on the Metro. 

As I was just advising this dude when we got off the bus at the North Hollywood station, which is characterized by people arguing with the air — “You don’t want to become part of someone else’s hallucination.”

He had ambled up to me in Valencia and asked when I thought the bus was leaving.  Since I knew, I told him.  Which should have been the end of our discussion but now this hombre in a beanie like me is volunteering that he is on an adventure.  He just came up to Valencia on a lark, for a change of pace, and while he was here he went to a bookstore and got two books:  The Elements of Style and another book like The Elements of Style except about journalism.

I have become blasé about meeting my doppelgänger.  He’s everywhere.  Me and my fellow beanie-wearer talked for a while about break-dancing and short story writing.  He wanted to know how many words in a short story and since I also knew that, I told him: about two thousand.

He said I reminded him of a break dancer named Ken Swift, because of my beanie and beard.  This got my guard further up. It was already up but not all the way up. Fortunately, it is possible to have your guard quite a ways up and still be polite, so we continued pleasantly conversing.  He asked my advice for retirement, which is also information I have at the ready and so I told him: set a goal ahead of time so you don’t hit retirement without a goal.

He said he was 45 which surprised me.  I’d have guessed late 20’s. Lank hair.  Mismatched Adidas jumpsuit.  Big black facemask.  Stocky. Holding a bag of beef jerky.

He asked if public transit goes to Riverside and since that too is a fair question, I looked it up and short answer, take Metrolink from Union Station.

He said, “My goal is to go to Riverside because that’s where my bag of beef jerky says it’s from.”


Oh and I did figure out where the music was coming from.  This frail-looking, older-than-me guy in a dapper straw hat.  I waited til he was getting off at Crenshaw and said “Thanks for the Isaac Hayes.”

He turned and big-smiled at me.  He pointed at me too, in that jaunty way people point from on-stage to their insider friends in the audience.  And he said, “You, I like!”

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.

2 thoughts on “#455, Valencia Glen Park

    1. Me too. By the way, I know it all sounds like fun and games, and it is. Nevertheless, the thing about avoiding becoming part of someone else’s hallucination — that’s true.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: