LaMarcus Aldridge suddenly threw down his XBox controller, causing the player he was controlling in FIFA 20 to dive to the ground. “I just decided that I want a girlfriend.”
“Now’s not the time,” Patty Mills said as he easily scored a goal. “We can talk about it after I’m done destroying you.”
Grabbing the television remote from the coffee table, where it was sitting nex to a tray of chicken wings, LaMarcus turned off the TV. “Stop being so insensitive. I’m clearly crying out for help here and all you care about is some pixels on a screen.”
“My pixels were kicking your pixels’ ass,” Patty protested. “And why do you think I’m some kind of girlfriend acquisition expert, anyway? I’ve had, like, two girlfriends in my life and I married one of them.”
LaMarcus sadly ate a chicken wing. “All my teammates are getting married and I’m just Loser LaMarcus who has never had meaningful contact with a female.”
“Sounds like you need some Timmy Therapy,” Patty replied. “He helped cure me of my towel addiction, maybe he can get you to stop being so pathetic.”
LaMarcus felt a faint ripple of hope flow through him. Tim Duncan was a useful source of wisdom on the court, so why shouldn’t he have off-the-court wisdom too? If there was anybody in the Spurs organization who could gently guide him through the trials of courtship, it would be Timmy.
“I’m nervous,” LaMarcus said.
“You’ll do fine, man,” Tim said in his unfailingly gentle voice as the two men stood outside the coffee shop where LaMarcus’ date was supposed to take place. “Look, she’s sitting right in there looking as nervous as you.”
LaMarcus looked in. “What if she wants to get married right away?”
Tim laughed. “She’s not going to want to get married right away.”
LaMarcus wasn’t so sure. He consulted the scrawled words written along the fingers of his left hand. The notes were there in case he forgot the plan that Tim had carefully laid out for him. His pointer finger read “1. Talk about fair-trade coffee or cryptocurrency.” The middle finger read “2. Explain how analytical rigidity in the NBA has unfairly marginalized the midrange game.” That one he had to squint at and re-read several times before he got it all. His ring finger read “3. Demonstrate the decision-making dice.” He felt in his pocket for the dice that Timmy had given him. “I’m nervous,” he said again.
“Well, if it goes horribly wrong, you’ll still have millions of dollars,” Tim reminded him. “And your biological clock is basically infinite. Meanwhile, this woman probably has the literal sensation of fertility being sapped from her uterus.”
“That’s not comforting at all,” LaMarcus said. He didn’t want to think about uteruses. He just wanted to go home. Instead, he entered the coffee shop and sat down at the same table as the woman.
His first line was well-rehearsed. “You must be Marissa,” he said with a smile. “I’m LaMarcus. I really really love fair-trade coffee.”
“Me too!” Marissa said happily. “That’s why I suggested this place.” She took a sip of her mug of coffee. LaMarcus thought the way she had her hands tucked into her sweater sleeves was kind of cute.
“I wonder if they’ll let me pay with Bitcoin though,” LaMarcus said. “Fiat currency is dead.” He looked out the window to see Tim giving him an enthusiastic thumbs-up. “Chainblock, I mean, uh, block…blockchain is the future. Decentralized transaction ledger. Um. Tokenized smart contracts.”
“I don’t know much about that stuff,” Marissa said.
LaMarcus wondered if he should have brought an engagement ring with him. “Neither do I.”
After quickly consulting his hand-written notes, he decided that talking about his career as a professional basketball player would be seen as bragging, so he skipped to conversation point #3. Pulling out a red 20-sided die from his pocket, he explained, “This is my decision-making die.”
“It’s way better than flipping a coin if you’ve got more than two options that you’re deciding between or if you need to assign different weights to the options.” He rolled it on the table. It came up with a seventeen. “In this case, prime numbers mean that I’m going to ask you on another date.”
Marissa’s attention was directed at the window. “Why is that guy outside laughing at us?”
“He thinks I’m a loser,” LaMarcus answered. Tim’s broadly-smiling face was pressed up against the glass only a few feet from where they sat. “But I’m going to be the one with the girlfriend.” He got out his phone and tried to bring up his Bitcoin wallet to show to his date, but by the time he had typed in his 40-character password of pure random entropy, Marissa had gotten up from the table and left.
Tim walked in and sat down in Marissa’s vacated seat. He was still giggling to himself. “I can’t believe you fell for all my horrible advice.”
LaMarcus looked sadly at the floor. “I’ll never have a girlfriend.”
Tim sipped Marissa’s coffee. “No, probably not.”