Lunching with Tracy Austin is, well, dizzying.
Consider her answer to the question: What have you been up to?
She got her braces off last May, turned professional in October, won a Porshe 924 in her first tournament as a pro, and, any day now, will try to get a driver's permit.
She wears pigtails and a necklace with 14 corn kernel-sized diamonds in the shape of a T. She employs Donald Dell as caretaker of her bubbling trust fund (approximately $40,000) and gets a dollar a week allowance from her father.
She likes ice cream and the play "Annie" (saw it twice, in London and L.A.).
She turned 16 last month and is the brightest new star in women's tennis.
Her identity is caught in a deuce match, zipping back and forth from child to adult. Whe is both.And she is delightful.
A couple of gurgling adults in the Regency Racquet Club asked Austin for her autograph yesterday, her first day in town for the Avon tennis tournament. She gave it to them before she sat down for lunch.
"In the beginning, it felt weird, people wanting my autograph," said Austin. "I'm still a little embarrassed, but I'm still a little embarrassed, but I'm used to it now. When I was little, I got autographs.
"I have no idea what happened to them," she said, glancing at her mother with a happy but pleading look on her face. It was the look of a growing adolescent, suddenly realizing with horror that all her favorite toys probably have been thrown out.
"I got Evonne Goolagong's autograph on my hand. I didn't have any paper," said Austin. "Oh, no, I never told her. She wouldn't even remember. There were about 500 of us kids."
Now Austin is side by side with Goolagong, Navratilova and Evert, traveling with her mother to six selected spots on the Avon tour while she continues to make straight As in a public high school.
At first, the adjustment to the pro tour was difficult.
"It was not a question of the tennis, but of being social," said her mother Jeanne. "They are nice to her, but they go to bars and discos, and I'm sure they might have been thinking, 'Well, what are we going to do with her? What do we say to her? Do we talk about the weather?'"
But recently Austin has cemented friendships with 18-year-old Mareen (Penut) Louie and 19-year-old Jeanne DuBall, and even though Austin is both younger and better than these players, whe leaves her evident superiority on the court.
"Jeanne and I always get in trouble," Austin said "We like to drive golf carts around. At Hilton Head, it was raining, and we were driving around, and a couple of ball girlas starting racing us and ran into a car. We almost turned one over once."
Austin is just playful enough to destroy the image of a tennis-is-everything machine.
Her antics are not harmful, even though she said policemen disapproved of her throwing roses to spectators from her Rose Bowl Parade float. This she did to be friendly without waving, a gesture that, if done for hours can turn a good arm into spaghetti.
Austin is every inch her mother's daughter. Jeanne Austin has a naturally happy face and exhibits none of those symptoms of the pushy sports parent. She does not live in a dream world.
She admits that the constant traveling with her daughter has changed her own life, and that she regrets the elimination of some personal enjoyment.
Like any proud mother, whe becomes impatient if she feels Tracy does not work hard enough, but unlike most such mothers doesn't push or scold.
"I am not a nag," said Jeanne Austin, matter-of-factly. "There are some things her coach (Robert Lansdorp) would like her to do training-wise -- jumping rope, pushups -- and she doesn't do anything like that. Inwardly, I get irritated when I see other girls jump rope for hours. I wish she would jump for just five minutes.
"But that is her business. She is the one who's on the court."
Austin glanced down the menu and said, "What should I have, Mom?"
"Anything you want."
Austin looks over the list.
"I really love McDonald's" she said, laughing. "I wish we were there right now."
The story is retold of how Austin dined at McDonald's in Japan last Thanksgiving while on tour.
"That was Thanksgiving?' Austin asked, genuinely amused that it had passed her by.
"I usually don't get home for Thanksgiving anyway."
Obviously this is no ordinary 16-year-old. Her mother said Austin "strives to be normal," that it was very important to her, for example, to attend a public rather than a private high school.
"I don't do most of the things my friends do," said Austin. "I don't go to many parties or dances, But I do some of the things they do and they don't get any of what I get (on tour), so I come out ahead on the game."
Can a school dance be missed when, at age 14, you are asked to dance at the Wimbledon ball? (Austin refused, too embarrassed).
Austin that year was the youngest woman ever to qualify for Wimbledon, and when she returned to school in Palos Verdes, Calif., her classmates teased her.
"It was kind of hard to go back," she said. "I had been in the papers and everything. I think it's because they were jealous, but I just ignored it. They don't make jokes any more."
Of all the things that are amazing about Austin, the one that stands out is that, so far, she has remained so beautifully unaffected.
"I don't really try to be normal," she said. "I think I just am."
She is apparently the same Austin who, at age 8, would beat the best ladies at the tennis club, then go to the baby-sitting area and make some sandcastles in the sand box.
"She used to drive 'em nuts," said her mother.
Now, somewhere between malts and martinis, Austin is driving them nuttier than ever.