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I was strolling through the park one day

July 22, 2008
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I needed to get out of the house today, so I filled a bag with newspapers and books and went up to spend the afternoon in Chichibu Park.

It’s named for Antioch’s sister city, in case you didn’t know. It’s one of the oldest neighborhood parks, I guess. When I was a kid it was a wild meadow, every spring covered with a truly amazing array of wildflowers. It was replaced by nice landscaping, not the same, but good. Until a few years ago, it led your eye straight back to the view of the hills and Mt. Diablo behind it– until the City Council decided to surround it with a green two-and-a-half foot chicken wire fence. I wonder whose pocket that kickback went into.

It was moderate weather and breezy, but humidhumidhumidhumid… First I went back to the rose garden. I saw RC walking around scoping out recycling possibilities. She thought the whole place looked badly maintained. I sat down on the bench: too sunny. So I sat on the ground under a tree, until the sun shifted and I had to find a shadier place.

I went over to the tables and sat down there. Two skateboardy kids lying under the adjoining one, talking; they left after a little while. I moved to a yet shadier table. A middle-aged guy came and sat at the next one, reading and talking on his cell phone. A couple of young guys came later and sat at one a little ways off.

It was so quiet and beautiful. I kept thinking how quiet and lovely it was. Then teenage girls began to arrive; soon there were about ten, plus a couple of adults. They had that intonation and dialect which I cannot possibly reproduce in print. I thought maybe they were a youth group, a church group, school club, planning something.

Finally they’re all there. They move behind me, so I can’t see them any more. Still talking, talking… suddenly they’re on the ground, doing sit ups. Then they’re doing air splits, then…

I was in denial, I guess. They were cheerleaders. Here are the names I heard:

Alex
Angelina
Brittany
Courtney
Crystal
Destiny
Valerie

Valerie is kind of a retro cheerleader name. But really, I had to have known who they were– I just couldn’t quite bring it into my higher consciousness, at first…

Then they put music on a boom box and started dancing, and talked about breaking their vagina bones. The two guys at the table behind me stayed to watch, but I was kind of tired anyway, so I left.

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