The SUV cruises along on a remote stretch between Amarillo, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Vinnie sits quietly in the backseat with Rupert squeezed between his knees facing him. Vinnie’s mom has a subconscious imaginary circle, one-hundred meters in diameter, with Vinnie at the Center sending cosmic beams from the perimeter toward Vinnie. The Imaginary circle operates much like radar, pinging back a signal when it reaches Vinnie. The returning volume of size of the ping back emanating from the epicenter of the circle, e.g., wherever Vinnie is located, indicates the cosmic effect Vinnie is having on his immediate environment. At the moment, Vinnie’s mom’s radar is picking up a faint beeping signal. This signal is only heard by moms because dads are either too insensitive to pick up the cosmic broadcast, or, if in the strange circumstance they do pick up the cosmic signal, they interpret its meaning incorrectly believing everything is okay.
Vinnie’s mom picks up the signal while reading social media on her iPhone. She casually says, “Vinnie, everything okay back there?”
No answer from the back seat.
The volume of the cosmic ping back increases.
Vinnie’s mom, reading the most recent Facebook post from her sister, calls out, “Vinnie, I said is everything okay back there.”
The communication from Vinnie’s Mom flew past Vinnie’s dad without landing. He was playing with the dashboard console trying to figure out how to make it shuffle the songs on his iPhone.
Still no answer from the backseat.
Vinnie’s mom turns around and sees Vinnie using his hands to pry different parts of his face into a grotesque configurations. One part of Vinnie’s mom wants to scream and tell Vinnie to stop it. The other part wants to laugh.
Now, Vinnie has a forefinger in each side of his mouth stretching it sideways.
Now, Vinnie is pulling his two ears forward and sticking his tongue out at Rupert.
Now, Vinnie inserts his forefinger and middle finger into his nostrils and and lifts them up while sticking his tongue out.
Vinnie’s mom can take no more. “Vincent, that’s disgusting. Take your fingers out of your nose this instant.”
Vinnie with the fingers still in his nose turns toward his mom, “Why, Mom. Rupert and me are having an ugly face contest. He’s winning. I have to make uglier faces than him.”
Vinnie’s mom says, “I don’t care what Rupert is doing, I care about what you’re doing and your fingers must be disgusting. Do you know how many germs are on your fingers?”
Vinnie takes his forefinger and middle finger out of his nose. He holds them up so he can examine them. He says, “I don’t see any germs, Mom. My fingers look mostly clean.”
“What do you mean mostly clean?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“There’s one small bugger on my middle finger, Mom. Don’t worry, I’ll get rid of it,” says Vinnie wiping his hand on his pants.
“Vinnie’s mom reaches down, picks up a container of Lysol disinfectant wipes, pulls one out, and extends her arm back toward Vinnie. “Take this wipe, wipe your fingers and hands, and then wipe off your pants.”
“But, Mom, I didn’t see any germs.”
“You can’t see germs,” says Vinnie mom quickly realizing her poor choice of words. She corrects herself, “I mean, everyone knows germs are there even if you can’t see them.”
Vinnie’s dad’s cosmic antenna pick up an interesting vibe. He tunes in to the vibe.
“Are there germs on your nose, Mom?”
“Well, everyone has germs on their nose, Vinnie.”
“Are there germs on your lips, Mom?”
Vinnie’s dad glances over at Vinnie’s mom, “Will a lifeline cancel out my debt?”
“Yes, yes,” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie’s dad says, “Vinnie, let’s play a road game. Any good ideas for a game.”
“I got a good one, Dad,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes, touches Vinnie’s dad’s arm, “Why? Is this the best you can do?”
Vinnie’s dad says, “Un huh.”