The next day, Giannis made a special trip to the grocery store. Usually he was careful about making a list and only going once a week, but with the addition of a blender to his kitchen (and, therefore, smoothies to his diet), he had quickly consumed all the fruit in the house. There hadn’t been much, truthfully; he mostly ate the microwavable meals that the Bucks’ nutritionists prepared for him.
That was all changing, he thought to himself as he loaded five gallons of milk into his cart. The nutrition people would be very pleased that he was taking steps on his own to improve his diet. He again marveled at how such a healthy drink could be so overwhelmingly delicious.
Giannis pushed his cart towards the produce section. There, he was greeted by a kaleidoscopic cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, many of which were unfamiliar to him. He circled through the entire section without putting anything in his cart, simply trying to comprehend the amount and diversity of fresh produce available.
Eventually, he picked out a few of the new things, but decided for now to mostly get what he knew to be his favorites: berries, bananas, and mangoes. The cost at checkout was fairly high, and Giannis felt a twinge of guilt brought on by his former life of enforced frugality, but he ignored it. Even if the fruits cost a lot of money, he would save much by not having to go to the smoothie store at the mall to get his smoothies.
This thought caused him to remember Rachel, the girl who worked at the smoothie store. That was the downside of Giannis’ newfound smoothie independence; he would no longer see the smoothie girl as often.
Giannis sat in front of his television, smoothie in hand. This one was made with what was called a “starfruit” in the store. It had an odd flavor, but after the third smoothie with it as the main ingredient, Giannis had decided that starfruit was perfectly fine. Not his favorite, but fine. He wondered if Rachel knew about starfruits. He couldn’t remember ever seeing them on the menu at the smoothie store.
Staring blankly at the TV, Giannis found himself growing bored of the show he was watching. Soon, this boredom grew into impatience. He hated the feeling of being unproductive, but all his good friends on the team were busy with other things, as their responses to his texts indicated. Giannis had already worked out at the practice gym for the whole morning, and the trainers repeatedly reminded him that he should not overdo his workouts, so anything physical like that was out of the question. His brothers were in school, so he couldn’t visit them either.
Giannis let his fingers run along the car key that was always in his pocket. He didn’t really have a reason to drive anywhere, but…
Walking into the now-familiar entrance to the food court, Giannis decided to have his supper at one of the other establishments in the food court instead of heading directly for Smoothie Express. However, while walking towards the aptly-named “Tasty Wok”, he couldn’t help but glance in the direction of the smoothie store. His heart rose when his eyes caught a momentary glimpse of Rachel, standing behind the counter. She was looking at something on her phone, evidently bored as Giannis had been, and so she hadn’t noticed him.
Giannis picked out some fried rice, paid for his food, and purposely chose a seat that, while facing away from the smoothie store, was in its direct line-of-sight. After his smoothie-heavy diet of the past week, the meal seemed hopelessly greasy and salty, but he ate it anyway, knowing that any unpleasant aftertaste would soon be negated by his next purchase.
His meal finished, Giannis discarded his trash and then turned back around towards Smoothie Express. Rachel had put away her phone but was still looking bored. However, when she saw her familiar tall customer, she waved happily. Giannis smiled and waved in response, feeling unreasonably giddy at such a small gesture.
“Hi Giannis!” Rachel said as he got closer to the counter.
“You remember my name!” Giannis responded. “Not so hard for me since you have nametag.”
“I bet you remember my name by now,” Rachel teased.
Giannis grinned slyly. “Maybe.” He then remembered his thought from earlier. “Do you know about starfruits?”
Rachel furrowed her brow. “The weird yellow ones? I’ve heard about them. We don’t have any, though.”
“Starfruits are a little weird,” Giannis agreed. “But they are good in smoothies.” He ordered his normal large-size berry smoothie, and when he paid the five-dollar cost, he was surprised to find that his sense of frugality was not protesting.
“Have a good day, Giannis!” Rachel said cheerfully as she handed him his drink.
“You too, Rachel,” Giannis replied, waving goodbye as he headed towards the exit. Somehow, the lightness of heart that had accompanied his first homemade smoothie was now amplified, and he was sure it was not because of the smoothie clutched in his hand.