Vinnie’s mom glances at Vinnie and his dad. They are sitting at the kitchen table. Vinnie is playing Mind Craft on his tablet. Vinnie’s dad has his laptop on the table and is catching up on work. Vinnie’s mom taps his dad on his shoulder, “Dear, you’re not going to catch up on your work reading about pro football. Vinnie takes after you, that’s for sure.”
“That’s good, right, Dad,” says Vinnie without glancing up from his tablet.
Vinnie’s mom says, “I’m going shopping with Maria. We’ll probably be gone most of the day. Don’t forget to take Vinnie to live nativity practice, it’s at 2 p.m. Sister Janet is expecting him.”
“Uh huh,” says Vinnie’s dad.
Twenty minutes go by, Vinnie taps his dad on his arm.
“What is it, Vinnie?”
“I got a got idea. Want to hear it?” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad saves his work on his laptop, then turns toward Vinnie and says, “I can use a good idea. What are you thinking?”
“The guys at school are all talking about the new football movie. You know where a soldier who lost his leg in the war, tries to make it to the pros with one of those fake legs. Joey went to see it last week with his mom and dad, he said it was the greatest movie ever. How about you and me going to see it this afternoon? Please?”
“Mom, says you are to go to the live Nativity practice at 2. Sorry.”
“Come on, Dad. How hard is it to play a sheep? I don’t have any words to say. I stand around. Last year I almost broke out laughing when Gina, who was playing Mary, knocked the manger over and Jesus fell on the ground. Good thing it was doll and not a real baby. Then, did you hear Marcia and Natalie sing Silent Night? It sounded like they were gargling with mouthwash. Please dad, save me. Besides, you need a break from work.”
Vinnie’s dad purses his lips and puts his hand to his chin. You really make a good point, Vinnie. Mom is out with Maria shopping and they’ll have lunch together. I think it’s time we men had a little fun. We’ll go out to the movie. After the movie, I’ll text Mom and ask her to meet us at Cerelli’s for pizza. She loves their deep dish pizza.”
“You’re the best, Dad. When you take me to see Santa, I’ll put in an extra good word for you,” says Vinnie. “Ah, Dad? What are you going to tell Mom about the live Nativity scene practice?”
Vinnie’s dad says, “Mom and I don’t lie to each other. So, I can’t tell her you went. That would be lying. I’ll tell her the truth.”
“Can I help you, Dad?” says Vinnie. Vinnie feels he is a master at making excuses. Three months in Mrs. Navis’ class sharpened his excuse making skills.
“What do you have in mind, Vinnie?” asks his dad.
“Just tell Mom the truth. I have the sheep part down perfect,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad says, “How do you come up with this stuff? When I was your age I’d never think of something like that to say.”
Vinnie smiles, “Dad, kids today are smarter than kids your age. I mean, I think you’re really smart but you probably didn’t hang out with guys as smart as the guys I hang out with.”
Vinnie’s dad laughs, “Maybe so. Truth is, I really want to see this movie. Harry was talking about it at work. I told him not to give me a spoiler alert. I was going to take you and Mom tomorrow. On second thought, maybe we should wait.”
“You want to miss the big game on TV tomorrow? Mom doesn’t like football that much. When she sits to watch it with us she’s always playing with her iPhone. We’re doing her a favor, Dad,” Vinnie says using all his powers of persuasion.
Ten minutes later, Vinnie is in his room on his bed lying on his side, Rupert is lying next to him. Vinnie rubs Rupert’s head, “Buddy, I got to move you away so I can make out my list for Santa. If you think of anything you want, let me know. I’ll put in a good word for you with Santa. I’m going to start by telling Santa who shouldn’t get presents.”
Vinnie opens his notebook, pushes the top of his pen down and prints on the top of the page, PEOPLE WHO DON’T NEED PRESENTS BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT BEEN GOOD. Underneath this title, he prints, Mrs. Navis, she is very mean. Sara Johnson, she snitched on me when I put a thumbtack on Mrs. Navis seat. Larry Barnes. Larry is okay but don’t give him what he wants because he always says ‘Good Morning, Mrs. Navis.’
Vinnie glanced up at Rupert, “I might put Mom’s name on the list if she really makes be the sheep. Don’t tell her, Rupert. If she doesn’t get anything, she’ll blame Santa and not me.”