Giannis sat at the too-small table across from his teammate Ersan Ilyasova. Around him, the other patrons of the mall food court were enjoying too-salty food and talking happily about the purchases they had made or were about to make. Giannis’ topic of discussion, however, as not nearly as materialistic. He sipped his smoothie, procured from the stall simply labeled “Smoothie Express,” then began to talk.
“I needing advice on women,” Giannis said.
“Yeah, that’s what you said on the ride over here, but you didn’t explain any more,” Ersan replied, taking a bite of his oversauced General Tso’s chicken.
“There is girl I like,” Giannis began hesitantly, feeling very unsure of himself. Would Ersan, the family man who had been married for a decade, make fun of his inexperience with relationships? He tried to discard that thought. He had turned to Ersan for advice specifically because of his experience and his straightforward demeanor. “But now we have going on some dates, and I do not know what next to do.”
To Giannis’ relief, Ersan seemed to take his question seriously, with no trace of humor. “Did the dates go well? Does she like you?”
Giannis felt his face get slightly warm as he remembered how well the dates had gone. The second one had ended with a kiss. Revisiting the feeling of Rachel’s lips on his own made his heart feel fluttery. He took another sip of smoothie to cool himself off. “Um, we did the kissing, so I think that she like me,” he answered. Then, he remembered that there was another, American term for the type of kissing they had done. “I making out with her.”
Ersan nodded. “I think she likes you then. And you said you went on a date, was that a real date or was it just a hookup?”
Giannis didn’t know what “hook up” meant, but from the rest of Ersan’s words, the thought he understood the meaning well enough. And that meaning had him feeling hot all over again. He had thought about those things in regards to Rachel, but only furtively, and always guiltily. She was too lovely to have such things thought about her. Shaking his head, he replied, “No, it was real date in restaurant.”
“And you wonder what you should do next.”
Giannis nodded. So far, despite his embarrassment, this was going better than expected. He went to take another drink of his smoothie, but, finding that it had been depleted, he reached into his bag to grab another that he had made at home. He hoped there was no rule in the mall about bringing in your own smoothies.
“You should invite her to your place to watch a movie,” Ersan said. “It’s sort of basic, but it has a low chance of going wrong if she likes you as much as it sounds like she does.”
“She already seeing my apartment,” Giannis said. “I made smoothie for her.”
“Man, you’re really into these smoothies,” Ersan laughed. “Well, there’s worse things to be addicted to, I suppose. But back to…what’s her name again?”
“Yeah, Rachel. Watching a movie on the couch while cuddling is a lot more intimate than serving her smoothies.” Ersan said. “If she wants things to go to the next step, she’ll be giving you hints, and probably stronger ones than usual, given your childlike innocence.”
This sentence was too complicated for Giannis to understand fully, but he understood the general idea: to let things go slow. He could do that.
“We should get going. I gotta stop back at home before practice,” Ersan said, putting the lid back on his half-eaten food and tossing it a nearby garbage can. “I’d wait a few days before asking her on another date. You don’t want to seem needy.”
Giannis smiled to himself. While he was very attached to Rachel, what he was really needy for was his smoothies.
Surrounded by the sounds of whirring blenders, Giannis deftly chopped up whole fruits and nuts with the speed of a seasoned chef. As each blender finished its duty, Giannis was quickly pouring the finished smoothies in bottles and refilling the blender with ingredients for another. Somehow, in the midst of all this chaos, he found time to sample heartily from each one, relishing the smooth, intricate flavors. The magic of the first sip of a new smoothie never faded for him. Every one, bar the least successful experiments, was as tasty as the one before.
Giannis was jarred out of his smoothie-crafting euphoria by the sound of his phone receiving a text message. Since only a few people had the ability to text him, he knew it was at least semi-important, so he took out his phone and looked at the message.
It was Ersan. “Where are you? Practice started thirty min ago.”
Giannis looked in dismay at the clock. In his haste to make more smoothies, he had lost track of the time. Grabbing his duffel bag, he ran out to his car, wondering what excuse he could possibly give his coach.