The young man his daughter has brought home looks down at the bowl he was just handed.
"What is this?" he asks, a faint note of doubt in his voice. Ignacio raises an eyebrow, but decides it isn't worth a comment. He doubts Henry has any idea he just trampled on Ignacio's ego, just a little. Besides, how his daughter's beau will handle this is valuable information.
"Menudo," Betty answers, leaning down and giving Henry a kiss on the cheek before sitting down beside him with her own bowl. Ignacio thinks he can see a faint blush appear on Henry's face.
Henry asks, "Menudo, like the band?"
"No, son," Ignacio says, "like the soup."
Hilda breezes into the dining room, putting her own bowl down on the table in her spot. Justin trails behind her with his own dish.
"Ay, Papí, give him a break," Hilda says. "Don't get snippy with him just because he's never had menudo before."
"Well, in that case," Ignacio responds, "he won't object to what's in it, unlike--"
"Papí," Hilda warns, just as Betty says, "He's right here. Stop talking over his head."
She smiles at Henry, and it doesn't escape Ignacio that it's an apology from Betty for having just done the same thing.
Henry blinks at the rapid exchange, but he recovers enough to ask, "Should I ask what's in it?"
Justin says, with a put-on air of mystery, "Surprises, lots of surprises."
Henry pokes around in his bowl with his spoon. "Well, I recognize hot peppers and...hominy, but what's this?" He holds up his spoon with a grayish piece of...something on it.
"You mean the thing that looks like a cut-up piece of dish towel?" Justin asks, earning him a snapped "Justin!" from Hilda.
Betty reaches over, snagging the spoon from Henry. "This," she says, "is tripe and no, it's not for everybody, and no, my dad's not going to be offended if you don't eat it. It's virtually tasteless and it's more for texture than anything else. If you really don't like it, you can just give it to me. Besides, there's plenty else to eat."
And there is--corn tortillas, rice and beans, plus fresh diced onions and quartered limes meant to add to the soup. Betty hands the spoon back to Henry, who takes it gingerly from her.
Henry raises his eyebrows and says, "Not any worse than sushi, then?"
Betty laughs and the answering smile on Henry's face is enough to tell Ignacio that this young man is unreservedly in love with his daughter.
He sits down, feeling a little stunned, not a little bit old, and also a little bit more than regretful for completely changing his plans for dinner when he found out Henry was coming over.
Henry does eat the menudo and seems to have no problem doing so, even going so far to give Ignacio a "Very good!" so Ignacio lets the guilt go. It's too late for regrets, anyway, so he settles for watching them, which is easy, because Henry seems to have all his attention focused on Betty. Henry follows Betty's lead in eating the meal, even trying a tortilla the way Ignacio remembers as Betty's favorite way of eating tortillas--rubbed with lime, sprinkled with salt and rolled into a tight cylinder.
Betty is all bright eyes and brighter smiles and once, when Henry passes her the bowl of limes and their fingers brush, there's a pause where Ignacio could swear they've forgotten there's anyone else at the table. It passes quickly as Justin asks Henry a question, but it lingers in Ignacio's thoughts.
Ignacio leaves the table once to heat more tortillas and from the kitchen he can hear as Henry jokes with Justin and queries about Hilda's job. Ignacio stops in the doorway on his way back and his gaze catches Betty's for a moment and that's when he realizes this is the happiest he's seen Betty in a long time.
Later, in the living room, after Justin calls Henry's attention to something and he unwraps his arm from around Betty's shoulders to get up and see what Justin wants, Ignacio sits down beside his daughter.
He says, "Mi amor, sabes que los amantes piensan que otros no tienen ojos."
This time it's Betty who blushes and she says, "Crees que sí?" Ignacio nods and then looks across to Henry and asks, "So, Henry, do you play dominoes?"