“Man, Giannis, these smoothies are really good, you got it down to a science!” John Henson exclaimed as the first drop of Giannis’ newest concoction landed on his tongue. “What did you say was in it again?”
Giannis smiled sheepishly as he listed the ingredients. “Pomegranate, mango, plums, I think that’s all.” He took a sip of his own smoothie and once again was delighted by the fact that something so flavorful could be both good for you and so easy to make. He was very grateful to America for inventing them, and he was also glad for the internet, which had, over the past few weeks, transformed him from a smoothie novice into a smoothie master.
“That chick at the mall is probably getting lonely though, now that you drink smoothies at home nonstop,” John said, laughing.
Giannis could feel the heat emanating from his face. “What chick? I don’t know who are you talking about.” He quickly took a large swig of his smoothie in what he hoped was a casual way.
“Come on, dude, we already determined you have a crush on her. Don’t pretend that you don’t know who I’m talking about.”
Giannis pretended to think for a moment. “Hmm, no, I don’t remembering any chicks at mall.”
“Whatever. man. I bet she’s wondering right now what happened to that tall exotic-looking dude who was so obsessed with smoothies.”
Giggling at the thought of being considered “exotic”, Giannis decided to abandon the charade. “Actually, I see her when I go to mall. I buy smoothie from her still.” This was not the full truth; Giannis had been making special trips to the mall food court just to see Rachel.
John smiled slyly. “So…did you bang her yet?”
The warmth on Giannis’ cheeks, which had been dissipating, returned in full as he shook his head adamantly. “Don’t say rude thing about Rachel.”
“I’m just saying, you’d have no problems if that was the route you wanted to go. Especially since you’re so baby-faced and naive. A lot of girls would want to take your innocence away. That’s what I’m saying.”
Giannis shook his head again as he peered into his empty glass. He wished he had another smoothie. Smoothies always calmed him down when he was tense or nervous. “I think to go out with her on date, but I am timid to ask.”
John stook up suddenly from the couch where he had been lazily reclined. “Let’s go to the mall right now. We’re going to score you a date with the smoothie girl.”
Clutching his glass in his hands, Giannis replied, “But…I don’t know how…”
“Dude, if you wait any longer, you’re going to get friendzoned hard.”
“Friend…zone?” Giannis was unfamiliar with the term.
“She’ll just want to be friends,” John explained. “And you’ll never get to see her naked.”
Unbidden images of Rachel the smoothie girl with no clothes on appeared in Giannis’ mind. Somewhat unbelievably, he had never dared to imagine such things before that moment. Bringing himself back to the here and now, he said, “But what we do on date? Go to restaurant? Walk around in park?”
“You can go see a movie in a theater or something, I don’t know,” John answered dismissively, getting out his car keys. “I don’t go on dates. Now let’s go.”
Giannis felt sick to his stomach. The last time he remembered being this nervous was before his first game in the NBA.
“Don’t puke, dude,” John said as they walked towards the mall’s entrance. “It’s just a girl. Worst-case scenario, she says no and you can never go to Smoothie Express again. Not a big deal, you make smoothies at home now.”
The thought of never again seeing Rachel’s cheerful face made Giannis feel even worse. When they walked into the food court, John said, “I’m going to go load up on Chipotle. Don’t pussy out.”
Giannis knew what “pussy” meant in this context, and he was pretty sure he was one. He also knew another definition, but he didn’t want to think about that right now.
He had been holding out hope that maybe somebody else would be working at the smoothie store, but when Giannis looked, there she was, helping another customer. Knowing that he was looking awkward just standing there, he forced his feet to move in that direction.
“Hi Giannis!” Rachel said as he approached, getting the pronunciation of his name mostly correct. “One large berry?”
“Yeah,” was Giannis’ short reply. His mouth felt like a desert. A smoothie would allow him to speak more than one word at a time. As he handed over the familiar amount of money, he realized he should have made one to drink on the ride over.
After what seemed like an eternal wait, Rachel returned to her side of the counter with smoothie in hand. Giannis immediately put the straw to his lips and took a big gulp. Immediately, the thick wetness relieved the inside of his mouth. So emboldened was he by the delicious taste that the next words from his mouth, the words he had agonized over, came out with no problem at all.