“Are you happy, Dad? Are you happy, Mom? I am so happy. This is the best day of my life. I met a real cowboy. He gave me his bandana. I’m going to wear it every day of my life. You can never wash it, Mom,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad, nods his head. Vinnie’s mom says, “I’m happy we stopped. You met a real cowboy and you’ll always have his red bandana,” Vinnie’s Mom already processing how she is going to wash it without it appearing that she washed the bandana. She’s drawing a blank.
“He told me to visit him every time we come by, Mom. Can we come back this way. His ranch is the Circle C. When I grow up I want to be either a cowboy, a rock star, or veterinarian.”
Vinnie’s dad chimes in, “You’ll probably change your mind a lot as you grow up.”
Vinnie shakes his head, “I don’t think so, Dad. Sam can ride his horse all day long. He has dog, Cactus that goes with him. Dexter can go with me when I ride my horse. Once I get good at riding, I’m going to go in the rodeo.”
Vinnie’s mom catches Vinnie’s dad about to object. She touches Vinnie’s dad’s forearm. She says, “Vinnie what event do you want to do when you ride in rodeo?”
“I want to ride bulls, Mom. I bet Sam rides bulls. He can teach me all the tricks. And, I want to ride horse that bucks like crazy. Can we go to rodeo again this year? Can we? Can I bring home a fried turkey leg for Dexter and a fried Snicker’s bar for Rupert?”
Dexter barks at the sound of his name and the word turkey.
“Mom do you have a snack for Dexter? He’s starving. I think he’s getting sick. He’ll throw up all over the place. The car will stink. Please, Mom, please. Dexter needs food.”
Dexter barks in agreement.
Vinnie’s dad can’t help himself, “Being a rodeo rider isn’t much of a career. You have to think of something else.”
Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes.
“I’ll be happy, Dad. Don’t you want me to be happy?”
Vinnie’s mom fights to hold back a smile.
Vinnie’s dad says, “Of course I want you to be happy. You can be happy doing other things.”
“You don’t look happy when you go to work, Dad. You always look serious. Are you happy when you go to work?” asks Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad glances over at Vinnie’s mom seeking a sign she’ll help. Vinnie’s mom zips her lips and smiles.
Vinnie’s dad says, “Do you think that being happy is what work is about?”
“Uh huh,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad starts to speak. Vinnie interrupts, “Look Dad, Look. Can we go. You can do it, Dad. I bet anything you can do it.”
“Do what. Vinnie?” asks Vinnie’s Dad.
“Look at the sign ahead of us, Dad. The big sign with the cowboy and the big stead. You can do it, Dad. It’s The Big Texan Steak House. It says if you eat a 72 ounce steak and all the fixings in one setting it’s free. You can do it, Dad. I know you can do it. Can we go, Dad?”
“That’s six pounds of meat, Vinnie. I’m not counting the other food they give you. It’s not healthy. Right, Dear,” says Vinnie’s dad trying to wiggle free.
Vinnie’s mom enjoys the reality show taking place in their SUV. She says, “Oh, I think you should try. I think you can do it.”
Vinnie jumps in, “Dad, Dad you’ll save money even if you don’t make it. You won’t be able to eat until we get home. I had a great idea, right, Dad? Dad, it’s only 32 miles ahead. We’re going to go right by it. I bet Sam can finish it. He’s a real cowboy.He’s big, Dad.”
“Please help me, I’m drowning,” says Vinnie’s dad to Vinnie’s mom.
“I don’t see any water, Dad. You know how to swim. How can you be drowning? How, Dad?” asks Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom reaches into a large book back by her feet, and pulls out a package. She turns toward Vinnie, “Vinnie, I want to surprise you and Dexter. I brought a special treat for Dexter. Real turkey jerky.”
Dexter barks and rises to his haunches. His eyes fixed on whatever is in the plastic casing being held by Vinnie’s mom. Dexter thinking it’s cuisine specifically prepared for a beagle palette.
“Wow. Thanks, Mom. You’re the best Mom. I wish Dad took after you,” says Vinnie reaching for the turkey jerky.
“I wish he did too, Vinnie.”
“I owe you,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“I’ll add it to your tab,” laughs Vinnie’s mom.