Vinnie’s dad has the SUV on cruise control zipping along Interstate 40, in eastern Arizona. Vinnie’s mom looks over her right shoulder and sees Vinnie completely engrossed in writing in the notebook she gave to him. She taps Vinnie’s dad on the thigh, he glances over. Vinnie’s mom says, “Vinnie hasn’t said a word in over an hour. He’s really into whatever he’s writing. I’d love to know what has taken hold of him.”
Vinnie’s dad says, “Believe me, you don’t want to go there.”
Before Vinnie’s mom responds, Vinnie says, “Where? Maybe I want to go there. It might be fun. Do they have rides?”
Vinnie’s mom whispers, “I’m sorry.”
Vinnie’s dad says, “It’s only an expression. Mom and I were having a conversation.”
“What were you talking about, Dad? Was it me?” asks Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom and dad make eye contact. Vinnie’s dad shrugs his shoulders, “We were wondering what you were writing, that’s all.”
“I thought you didn’t want to go there,” Vinnie’s mom mouths to Vinnie’s dad.
Vinnie’s dad shrugs. He frequently uses this strategy when he can’t explain why he did something. It’s a strategy many males learn early on in relationships if their brain is four steps behind their actions.
“I was writing a story. I’m going to give it to Mrs. Navis when I go back to school after vacation is over. I’m pretty sure I’ll get an A because I write the best stories in the class. All the kids want me to read my stories out loud.”
Vinnie’s mom’s heart rate increases by twenty beats per minute. She says, “What?”
“I’ve been doing it all year, Mom.”
“What do you write about? How come I haven’t seen your stories?” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie looks out the window. He turns back, reaches over to the adjacent seat and picks up Rupert. He holds Rupert in front of him. “Rupert, Mom wants to know why you told me not to show her the stories I write for Mrs. Navis.”
“What are these stories about, Vincent?” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie turns Rupert around to face his mom and picks Rupert up high enough to hide his face from his mom. Using his falsetto voice as Rupert’s imaginary voice, he says, “I told Vinnie you might get upset with his stories because they are all about us.”
Vinnie’s dad dives in, “What do you mean, Rupert, all about us?”
Rupert says, “You know, you and Mom and Dexter and Vinnie and me. His last story was how he rescued you when you were talking to fat Mrs. Bevis.”
“He didn’t,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“What did Mrs. Navis say?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“Vinnie never got to finish reading his story because he was laughing so hard, Mrs. Navis sent him to time out.”
“Time out? I didn’t know.”
“Opps. I don’t think I should have said anything, Vinnie,” says Rupert.
Vinnie’s mom turns to Vinnie’s dad. I don’t think we can ever go home. No wonder Julia Bevis has been snubbing me. I must be the laughing stock of all the parents.”
“Mom. I told better stories about Dad.”