Please Check on Vinnie


Vinnie’s dad continues to massage Vinnie’s mom’s shoulders. An eery quiet comes from the kitchen, then a beep and another beep, then the sound of the microwave. “Vinnie’s making popcorn.”

“Vinnie’s mom twists her head and looks up at Vinnie’s dad, “Go check on him. I don’t trust him.”

Vinnie’s dad gives a small chuckle, “What could go wrong with making a bag of microwave popcorn. You worry too much.”

The sound of the popcorn popping grows louder, faster, and with the furious beat of an angry rapper. “I don’t like the sound of the popcorn in the microwave, Dear. Please check on Vinnie.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Listen to the popping, it’s almost …”

An explosion of sorts, the slamming of the microwave door against the cabinets, and Vinnie’s voice, “Wow! This is great. There’s popcorn everywhere. You should see this dad.”

Vinnie’s mom is out of the chair like a rocket taking off for the International Space Station. Vinnie’s dad follows a safe distance behind prepared for a series of ‘I told you so.’

Vinnie’s mom stands in the entryway into the kitchen, arms akimbo, “My God, what happen? There’s popcorn everywhere. What happened to the microwave? Popcorn and popcorn bags are sticking to the sides and tops. What did you do, Vincent.” 

“Nothing, Mom. Honest. I asked Rupert if I could pop three bags of popcorn together on high and he thought it was a good idea. He really likes the game and wanted to get back to play it.”

“You asked Rupert what you should do?” says Vinnie’s Mom.

“Yes, Mom. You always told me when I’m not sure of something, to ask someone smarter than me. Rupert is the smartest person I know.”

Vinnie’s mom turns to Vinnie’s dad, “Don’t say anything. Hold me. I need to get centered. 

Vinnie’s dad holds Vinnie’s mom in his arms. Vinnie’s mom lays her head on Vinnie’s dad’s shoulder and whispers, “Does this make Rupert smarter than you and me?”

Vinnie’s dad isn’t sure what to say. Instead, he strokes Vinnie’s mom’s hair and says, “You have to admit, life around here isn’t boring.” 

Vinnie calls over, “Mom, no need to worry about clean up, Dexter’s almost done. Can I lift him up and stick his head inside the microwave?”

Vinnie’s mom breaks loose from Vinnie’s dad. She looks at Vinnie’s dad and says, “I told you so. No, Vincent, don’t stick Dexter’s head in the microwave.”

“What did you tell, Dad, Mom? Did he remember? I bet he wasn’t listening to you. Is this true, Dad?”

“Let me help Dexter clean up,” says Vinnie’s dad. Vinnie’s mom starts laughing.

Ten minutes later the family is sitting at the kitchen table. Rupert is sitting on the table, his back braced against the lunchbox. Dexter is lying on the floor sleeping off three bags of popcorn.

Vinnie’s mom says, “Vincent, I am really trying to be patient with you. My patience meter is running on empty. I want this game to end quickly so I can soak in the tub undisturbed by any male in the house.”

Vinnie smiles, “Awe, Mom. Why don’t you take your bath now. We can play when you finish.”

“No, we’ll finish it now.”

Vinnie’s dad sits stoically staring at a photo of the three of them at Six Flags. His first thought was the happy time they all had, then he remembered what Vinnie did on the water slide. He decided not to bring it up.

Vinnie’s says, “Since you didn’t answer the question about Gramma’s teeth, I’ll ask you one about Grampa since he has most of his teeth. Is it okay?”

Vinnie’s Mom says, “Promise it’s not about Grampa’s teeth.”

“I promise, Mom,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad interrupts, “Perhaps we should narrow his choices down a bit more, Dear.”

Vinnie’s mom looks at Vinnie’s dad and says, “What could he ask that would embarrass me?”

Vinnie’s dad can think of seventy-three things, but smiles and nods.

Vinnie says, “Mom, when Gramma and Grampa visit us and have dinner with us, Grampa sits on sofa and wants me to sit next to him. I don’t want to sit next to him and Dexter doesn’t like lying on the floor near him. And, Rupert doesn’t want to sit on the sofa with him. Why can’t Dad sit next to him and me and Dexter and Rupert play in my room until dinner?”

“That’s terrible, Vincent. You love, Grampa, right?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Sure, Mom. I love Grampa. That’s not the reason I don’t want to sit with him.”

“Well, Vincent. What is the reason you don’t want to sit next to Grampa? says Vinnie’s mom.

“I wouldn’t go there, Dear,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Where, Dad?” says Vinnie.

“Yes, where?” says Vinnie’s mom.”

Vinnie’s dad glances at Vinnie. He says, “Vinnie, I think Dexter has to go outside after all the popcorn. Do you mind taking him into the backyard? We’ll be ready to play when you come back. Here’s a dollar if you do it without saying a word.”

Vinnie grabs the dollar and head toward the kitchen, Dexter follows believing he’s getting more food.

Vinnie’s mom says, “That was so wrong to reward him to do what he’s supposed to do.”

“I needed to get Vinnie off the game before he asked you the question,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Dad is the most gentle soul. Vinnie loves him. They’re best buds when he visits. What question could he ask that might bother me?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad thinks about it for a moment. He weighs the pros and cons of answering this question forthrightly and honestly. Then he says, “I can’t think of a single question Vinnie could ask that will bother you.”


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