Friday, March 13, 2009

March Madness in L.A. with a dude in a Cougar suit

For the last few days my family has been staying in a hotel in downtown Los Angeles that is serving as host hotel for the PAC-10 championships in girls basketball.

Everywhere one goes, there is a gaggle of young women (they look like girls) with the staggered dimensions of a basketball team: one thin skyscraper, two very tall girls with more bulk, two shorter girls with the fleet vibe of very fast people.

One also sees their coaches, tall, intense adults. I saw one such woman being interviewed in the lobby bar. She looked like a taller, more athletic Robin Carnahan, blonde and alert. I saw one such man on the escalator this morning. He coaches at USC, where the girls' games are being played - a bit of an unfair home-court advantage, I should think.

Human nature suggests that somewhere around here blowout parties are going down where these tall girls are sneaking drinks and perhaps romance - having once been a boy athlete, that is my expectation - but if so, that is deeply covert. All I see are tall and lithe people in hoodies, with farway eyes that suggest deep interior concentration. I fancy I can see plays and defensive schemes dancing on the insides of their eyelids.

Yesterday, the girls on the Washinton State Cougars team exited, as a group, to board the team bus and depart for their game. The Washington State cheerleading unit lined up outside the hotel to zing the streets of Los Angeles with school spirit. A fragment of a marching brand blasted the chilly late winter air with brass colors. Somebody in a Cougar suit did his thing.

Then the atheletes crossed the small space from hotel to bus, and the Cougar and the hornplayers and the cheerleaders bubbled, for a moment, with leftover encouragement, before following the tall girls in the hoodies with the hooded eyes onto the vehicle and disappearing down Wilshire Boulevard.

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