“Why Can’t We Eat Barbeque, Mom?”


Vinnie fell asleep holding Rupert. Dexter was sleeping on the floor at Vinnie’s feet. Vinnie’s dad was traveling on US 87 through Big Springs, Lamesa, and Tahoka before reaching Lubbock, home of Buddy Holly and the Crickets. 

Vinnie’s mom says, “Dear, should we stop and take a bathroom break? My bladder’s nearly full.”

“Mine is too. We’ve had two hours of peace. Do we want to give it up?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“Maybe we can take turns going to the restroom and let him sleep,” offers Vinnie’s mom.

“Amarillo is a little less than two hours. Should we chance it? There are hardly any places to stop on this road. The small towns have the big rough tough looking cowboy types,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Are you afraid a cowboy will steal me?” chides Vinnie’s mom.

“No, we have Dexter and Rupert to protect you.” Vinnie’s dad says and laughs. “Let’s stop, we’ll have to sooner or later. I can get gas and we can get to our motel at a decent hour.”

Vinnie’s dad signals to exit. At the end of the exit ramp is a red light. He stops. Suddenly from the seat opposite Vinnie, Dexter presses his nose against the window and begins barking that turns into a howl hitting every note on the B major scale.

Vinnie opens his eyes, he rubs them, and turns toward Dexter, “What’s wrong, Dexter? What’s wrong?”

Vinnie’s dad now wishing he held it says, “Nothing. I think Dexter saw a dog.”

Vinnie’s mom regretting suggesting they stop says, “Dexter stop.” Dexter interprets Vinnie’s mom’s words as “It’s food time,” and howls even louder.

“What’s wrong with Dexter, Vinnie? Can you get him to quiet down?” asks Vinnie’s mom. 

Vinnie’s dad considers going through the red light hoping it will stop Dexter’s howling.

“Dad! Dad! Dad! I know the problem. Look! Look! Look!” hollers Vinnie gesturing with his finger to something outside the SUV.

“I’m driving, Vinnie. I can’t look,” says his dad.

“No, Dad. You’re not driving. You’re at a red light. Why are you looking at your iPhone. I think looking at cell phones while you’re driving is against the law. Will they put Dad in jail in the police catch him, Mom? Will they, Mom?”

Vinnie’s mom reaches over and takes the iPhone from Vinnie’s dad. “Vinnie, Dad won’t go to jail. I have his iPhone,” says Vinnie’s mom. “What is Dexter barking at?”

“Can’t you smell it, Mom? Look in the parking lot near the gas pumps they’re barbecuing. Can we have some barbecue, Mom? Can we? I’m starving.”

“No, Vinnie. We are not going to eat Barbecue.”

“Why, Mom. Why?”

“Because, Vincent?”

“Because why, Mom?”

Vinnie’s mom takes a deep breath. She wonders if Google has an answer. Vinnie’s mom believes life would be so simple if Google could answer most of Vinnie’s questions. She says, “Because barbecue isn’t healthy.”

“Why do they sell it, Mom. If it’s bad, why do they sell it? Why, Mom?”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Mom’s a vegetarian, Vinnie. Vegetarians think meat is bad for you.”

“Why does she let you and me eat meat, Dad? Why?”

“The light turned green, Vinnie. I’ll have to answer it after we go to the bathroom.”

“Can we buy barbecue for Dexter? He’s only part human. The other part is beagle.”

“Does it ever end?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“What, Mom? What do you want end?” asks Vinnie.

“Afraid not, Dear,” says Vinnie’s dad.

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