The new Mohawk haircut was driving him nuts. Everyone in the coffee shop must be staring at them. He could feel their eyes. He leaned across the table at her.
“Why did you do that? It’s awful.”
“It’s wonderful.” She laughed. “So easy to take care of.”
“And is that a new piercing on the side of your nose? I can’t tell when you have so many.”
She just smiled. “You’re just from the wrong generation.”
He looked down at his sensible breakfast of eggs-over-easy, a rasher of bacon, and whole wheat toast. “You’re embarrassing yourself.”
“Not yet.” Her feet rocked the skateboard under their table.
“What’s next? A blue Mohawk?”
She twisted her mouth as if she were thinking. “Nope. Purple.”
He rolled his eyes, then caught sight of his father coming out of the post office across the street. He watched the older man a moment, and considered how alike they were: sandy hair, square shoulders. They even dressed the same, in khakis, a shirt with real buttons, classic leather loafers.
Then he gazed back at her just as she was taking off her sweatshirt. The tank top underneath revealed way too much of her shoulder tattoos. He rolled his eyes again, and concentrated on breakfast until her rocking feet shot the skateboard out from under the table and across the room to whack the mayor on the ankle. The man yelped.
She started to rise from her breakfast of rhubarb pie and caramel ice cream. He waved her back down.
“Eat,” he said. “I’ll go get it.”
She frowned. “I’m a big girl. You don’t have to clean up my mistakes.”
“It’s okay. I think the mayor wants you to keep your distance anyway.”
He retrieved the skateboard, his face feeling hot as he apologized to the mayor. Then he parked the board under his own chair where her feet couldn’t reach it.
As they finished eating, the waiter stopped by with the check. She reached for it.
He gently pulled it out of her hand. “No. My treat.”
She gave him a look of such profound and unconditional love that he forgave her everything. He reached for his wallet.
“My pleasure, Mom.”