Faster. Quicker. Taller. Better. I am sure the waters are churning in Mission Viejo, one kid after another, up and down the pool, never stopping. At Southern Cal the newest tailback is being unveiled, some superhuman who, sometime later, in a banquet hall in New York, will be handed that squat bronze trophy of a football player sticking out an arm. Baseball? No contest. Basketball? Soccer? Track and field? Automobiles? Motorcycles? If sun and the outdoors are involved, champions are being developed here. How can anyone compete? This is the ultimate laboratory.
"Under the ball," the tanned tennis coach says. "Dig."
At the track stadium in back of me, some kind of a cheerleading competition is being held. I can hear the singsong voices of groups of high school girls. Pauley Pavilion is next to the courts, quiet and dark, the floor refinished, the place smelling of shellac and championships. Students walk past on Bruin Walk. A kid is kicking field goals on the football practice field.
The tennis continues. Forever?
Anaheim. I phone home at seven o'clock at night, looking out of my hotel window at the sunlight and action. I talk to people who are in the dark, 10 o'clock, people who are thinking about going to bed.
"How's the trip?" I am asked.
"Awesome," I reply.
I can see all the stuff of California from my room. The California trees. The California swimming pools. The California cars. The California smog. The California hamburger heavens. The California plaster mountain.