“How did everything go at rehearsal, Vinnie?” asks his dad. “Well? You seem pretty quiet. What happened? You don’t look happy? Why the frown. Don’t tell me you are going to be the sheep again?”
“Dad, I didn’t think it could get worse and it got worse,” says Vinnie shrugging his shoulders.
“What could be worse than being a sheep?” asks his dad.
“Can I say a word you might not want me to say? I don’t want to get in trouble with Santa and you, Dad.”
Vinnie’s dad glances over at Vinnie, “Is it a curse word, Vinnie?”
“I don’t think so, but I think Mom might not like it if I went around saying it,” says Vinnie.
“You can tell me,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“Promise not to tell Mom?” asks Vinnie.
“Promise,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“I’m going to be a jackass,” says Vinnie and he starts laughing.
“A jackass? What do you mean, Vinnie?” asks his dad.
“Oh, Dad. I’m going to be the donkey. I have to lie on straw at the foot of the manger. How dumb is that?”
“That’s pretty dumb, Vinnie. I have to agree with you.”
“Will you tell Mom I don’t have to be in living nativity?” asks Vinnie
Vinnie’s dad pretends he’s concentrating on driving but he’s thinking about what he wants to say to Vinnie.
Vinnie interrupts his dad’s thoughts, “Dad you don’t have ask, Mom.”
“Thanks, Vinnie. Mom’s heart is set on you being in the Nativity. It’s only one night. I know it’s a lousy role, but suck it up. Santa will really appreciate it. I’ll email him and tell him you got stuck with a lousy role but you’re going to do it anyway.”
“Thanks, Dad. Dad?”
“What is it, Vinnie?”
“Will you also email Santa and tell him not to leave Sister Janet any presents. Put Mary Avery’s name on the list.”
“Because Sister Janet is mean. She’s meaner than the Murphy’s German Shepherd. And, Mary Avery stuck her tongue out at me. Besides, Sister Janet let Mary be Mary. If it were my choice, Mary would make a very good snake.”
“I don’t think there are snakes in a living nativity scene, Vinnie,” says his dad.
“What about a cockroach?” suggests Vinnie.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cockroach in nativity scene,” says Vinnie’s dad wondering how long this will go on.
“I think I’ve seen a nightcrawler, Dad. I really think there was one at my feet when I was playing the sheep last year.”
“I remember that, Vinnie. Do you remember how that got you in trouble?” asks his Dad.
“Okay, so I dropped a gummy worm in front of Joanne. She screamed. It was very funny.”
“Mary is not supposed to scream in the living nativity scene, Vinnie.”
“Will you tell Sister Janet to change the roles? I want to play a wiseman because I am very smart.”
“No, I’m not going to tell Sister Janet anything,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“Are you afraid of Sister Janet, Dad? I didn’t think you were afraid of anyone.”
“There’s Mom waiting for us?” says Vinnie’s dad trying to change the subject.
“Yes,” says his dad.
“Yes, what, Dad?” asks Vinnie.
“Yes, I’m afraid of Sister Janet.”
Vinnie’s dad pulls up to curb. His mom opens the passenger side door and slides in. She turns toward the backseat, “How did practice go today, Vinnie?”
Vinnie smiles, “It was great, Mom. I don’t have to be the sheep. I get to be the donkey and lie at the foot of the manager. I can’t wait for Wednesday night.”
“I am so proud of you, Vinnie,” says his Mom.
Vinnie’s dad looks in the rearview mirror and makes eye contact with Vinnie. He says, “Vinnie was so excited after practice. He told me he’s going to be the best donkey ever. Right, Vinnie?”
“I’m on it, Dad. I’m thinking how I can make my role come alive.”
Vinnie’s dad feels his stomach take a small backflip.