The restaurant where Lyssa took Hannah was small and unpretentious, the single entrance on a back alley. Despite the obscurity of the location, the prices could easily compete with some of the fancier joints in town; the customer obviously paid for the selectivity, since not everyone could find the place. Just like her mother to know about a dive like this, Hannah thought as they went through what appeared to be the back door. Once inside, they were bombarded with the mellow natural tones of Oregon chic, complete with wobbly wooden tables, uncomfortable cane chairs and tasteful, reticent waiters and waitresses in designer jeans. Lyssa fit in perfectly with her flowing, flowery clothes and big round glasses -- a hippie gone professional. She clung to the same era as her chosen state.
The atmosphere during the meal they chose from their hand-written menus was about as congenial as the cane chairs were comfortable. Hannah rarely looked at her mother, and when she did, she twisted her mouth up in an intentionally cynical expression. Her daughter was so obviously above everything that Lyssa's patience was wearing thinner than Hannah's old jeans. Lyssa was doing her best to keep some semblance of a conversation going, but the teenage-adult comments from the other side of the table effectively killed nearly every subject she cared to introduce. When she tried to discuss the evils of Reaganomics, Hannah pointed out that Lyssa was a successful businesswoman herself, so what was she complaining about? When she tried to tell her about Portlandia's procession, Hannah said the statue was just an expensive piece of junk and she didn't know what all the fuss was about. Lyssa did not want to resort to the weather.
"And how's your new boyfriend doing?" Lyssa asked casually in her quiet, gravelly voice as they were sitting over the dregs of their wine after dinner. They had ordered some for both of them and gotten away with it, although Lyssa was surprised every time. Eighteen-year-old Hannah still looked dreadfully young to her mother. Her little girl. Who had insisted on moving out this summer. Not so little.
"Mom, it's none of your business, you know," Hannah replied, watching one of the tasteful male behinds go by. With one of her girlfriends, she would have made an audible comment indicating her appreciation to shock him out of his earnestness, but fun of that sort was out of the question.
"Sorry, Hannah. I wasn't trying to pry. I'm just interested in you and what you're doing. That's fairly natural, I think."
Remnants of a salad choked with alfalfa sprouts and smothered in sesame seed dressing (all natural ingredients) graced the hand-thrown ceramic bowl at Hannah's elbow. She had eaten the tomatoes and lettuce and distributed the rest evenly around the sides. "Mom, you sound like an understanding mother on a sitcom, did you know that?" Hannah said, playing with the alfalfa sprouts.
"Unfortunately, I don't watch sitcoms. What do the mothers in sitcoms do when their daughters are hiding their boyfriends from them?"
"What makes you think I'm hiding him from you? Hasn't it occurred to you that I just might want to live my life on my own finally?"
"Hannah, you sound like the stereotypical rebellious teenager."
Lyssa was relieved to see Hannah finally smile at that one. "Okay, Mom, one to one. But I'm still not going to start dragging my boyfriends over for inspection just because you're worried about your little girl."
"Sorry if I seem overprotective. But I do worry--about this one at least. He was just so terribly unfriendly when I met you both downtown the other day."
"Would you ladies like dessert?" the waiter asked in that conciliatory way waiters often have.
"No thanks," Hannah snapped. Forgotten were the cute buns. "Look, Mom, we weren't expecting to run into you, and you're such a personality and all, and, I mean, you're my mom."
"Well, I still think he could have been friendly. And to be quite honest, 'unfriendly' was putting it mildly. He was looking positively threatening."
"Mom! How can you say that? Jesse threatening? You don't even know him!"
Lyssa wondered if Hannah did, and against the urgings of her diplomatic instincts, she asked, "How long have you known him, Hannah?"
Of course it was absolutely the wrong thing to say. Hannah leaned back in her rickety chair and shook her head in irritation. "Longer than you," she said.
Rather than touching Hannah's hand as she would have liked, Lyssa merely shrugged her shoulders philosophically. "I should hope so."