Dad – Chapter 2 – The Olympians

Dad was waiting for me at a window table of our favorite eatery, the Rise and Shiner Diner. The place is a local legend. The Russo family has passed it down through the generations, and Michael Russo, fourth generation owner and manager, was smiling and waving at me from the host stand as I walked in. Not for the first time, I wondered how he was doing. His father, who had run the Shiner for more than forty years, had been taken out of commission by a stroke last year, and Michael left law school in his second year to take over for his dad. Michael and I have been friends ever since he cut off one of my pig tails in third grade. Long story. We were working on our Holiday art projects, and he got into an argument with his buddy Ryan about the relative sharpness of school scissors. Ryan said they were dull and couldn’t cut through anything more than paper, and Michael, already preparing for a career in law, argued that, since the blades were made of metal, like any other scissors, they would cut the same as any other scissors. The argument got pretty heated, Michael decided to end it with a demonstration, and my left pig tail wound up on the floor. The school called my mom, who immediately picked me up, took me to her hair place, and had my hair cut in a cute short style. The next day, with everyone oohing and ahhing over my adorable new hair, I forgave Michael, end of story. Seeing him behind the host stand, knowing what he was giving up to keep the family business going, I mentally patted myself on the back for making the right decision all those years ago. He really was one of the last good guys.

A basket of Shiner’s famous house-baked biscuits sat untouched on the table in front of dad. He’s no glutton, but the man has never met a bakery product he didn’t like. He was sipping what I was sure was his second or even third cup of coffee. My heart squeezed a little at the thought of how nervous he must be. I put on my brightest smile and walked over. Planting a kiss on his cheek, I plopped into the chair opposite his, and grabbed a biscuit. “You look smashing!” I told him. “Cheryl is going to hyperventilate when she sees you. You’d better bring a brown paper bag.” Chuckling softly, he shook his head. “I don’t know, sweetheart. I feel like such a fraud. What do I know about women? Nothing. Your mom was, well, she was everything. I knew her, and she knew me. I didn’t have to worry with her. But Cheryl? I don’t even know what we’ll talk about. I have no idea what she wants.” He sighed and picked up his cup again, looking down into it, as if looking for answers in his coffee.

I split a biscuit, put butter on both halves, and handed one half to dad. “Eat.” I commanded. “You’re nervous and you shouldn’t drink so much coffee on an empty stomach. You’ll get heartburn. And you’re worrying for no reason. Cheryl’s just a woman. She wants what all women want—someone who will treat her with kindness and respect and someone she enjoys hanging out with. And of course, someone who’ll buy her lots of jewelry and rock her world on a regular basis.” I waggled my eyebrows meaningfully, and dad blushed a furious shade of red. I giggled and patted his hand. “Sorry about that. I’m kidding. The jewelry is optional, of course.” “OK, that’s quite enough of that, Ellie,” dad was still blushing, but he was also smiling now.

We ordered a truckload of food and enjoyed the next couple of hours stuffing our faces with Shiner’s delicious breakfast treats. Dad picked up the check (have I mentioned that my dad is the best?) and we made our way to the front door. “Bye, Mr. Harris.” Michael waved as we walked out. Dad waved back and then turned to me. “He’s grown into a good man, hasn’t he? It’s too bad about his father.” I nodded. It was a really nice day, so we walked the two blocks to Everything’s Coming Up Roses to pick out the perfect first date bouquet. Dad kept drifting to the red roses. Bad idea. Red roses are for lovers, way too much pressure for a first date. I dragged him away from the roses and pointed out the gorgeous display of daisies. “This is what you want. Look at them. They’re pretty and friendly and they say ‘I’m not like all the others. I’m a guy you want to get to know.” Dad gave me a sideways glance. “You’re making all that up. But I gotta admit, I like the daisies.” I helped him pick out a combination of white, yellow, and pink daisies, and stuck in some fern greens and baby’s breath for balance. It was a very pretty bouquet.

Titles – Dad Chapter 2

Excerpt – Dad was waiting for me at a window table of our favorite eatery, the Rise and Shiner Diner. The place is a local legend. The Russo family has passed it down

Tags – Dad, Rise and Shiner Diner, Shiner, Russo, Michael, Michael, Ryan, Cheryl, Ellie, Michael, Roses, Daisies, Alla Reese, Alla, Reese, Olympian, The Olympian