Vinnie’s Mom Says, “Sweet Jesus Help Me.”


It turns out the kitchen wasn’t as much a disaster as first thought. Dexter did a fine job cleaning most of the mess. Vinnie did his experiment again and took photos with his dad’s iPhone. His mom helped with the poster boards. The judges from the local university gave Vinnie first place among all the third grade students. 

Vinnie holds the blue ribbon in his right hand and he cradles Rupert against his boy in the crock of his elbow as he parades through the house. Dexter follows because Dexter’s always loved a parade. Dexter’s beagle brain knows they sell hot dogs and barbecue and French fries at parades. There’s no reason why this parade should be any different from the other parades he’s seen. 

Vinnie’s singing, “Who is the best, none of the rest, Anyone can see, it’s me.” 

Vinnie’s mom and dad watch the parade as it circles through the house for eighth time. Vinnie’s dad says, “Vinnie created some rap lyrics to celebrate. Do you let him listen to rap? I thought you didn’t like it.”

Vinnie’s mom turns her head slightly toward Vinnie’s dad, “I don’t. I think he hears it at Joey or Larry’s house. Joey and Larry are nice boys, but you know what I think of their parents.”

“They can’t be all that bad if the boys are nice,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“I guess,” says Vinnie’s watching Vinnie start his ninth circle when her cell phone rings.

Vinnie’s mom picks the cell phone off the coffee table and looks at the caller ID. She says, “It’s the school. It can’t be about Vinnie, can it?”

Vinnie’s dad shrugs.

Vinnie’s mom taps the answer icon, “Hello?”

“Doctor Cashman, what a surprise. Vinnie is so proud of winning the 3rd grade science fair. . . .  What’s that Doctor Cashman? What problem? . . .  No, Vinnie did not get some outside help. . . .  I bought the poster board and Vinnie’s dad let him use his iPhone to take photos.  . . .  We ask him questions about his experiment.  . . .  We did not tell him what to do or how to do it or figure out the results.  . . .  What information?  . . .  You think a Mensa genius helped him. I’m a member of the local Mensa chapter and I can assure you no one from the local chapter helped him with any aspect of his science project. . . .  Where did you hear this? . . . Mrs. Navis? . . .  She may be confused. . . .  What’s that, Vinnie told her he had help every step of the way from the smart person on the planet. . . .  Oh, dear, you must be talking about Rupert. . . .  Vinnie is not going to return the blue ribbon, Doctor Cashman, I don’t care if Rupert wrote his report while Vinnie slept. . . .  I don’t like your tone, Doctor Cashman. . . .  I don’t care if Mrs. Navis insists that someone else be award the blue ribbon. . . . You’ve already awarded it to Sara.  . . . You did this without consulting me or Vinnie’s dad. . . .  Do you want to meet Rupert? . . . You don’t? . . .  I wish you would meet Rupert, Rupert is Vinnie’s stuffed grizzly bear and his alter ego. . . .  You’re going to declare co-winners? Do you think that is fair? I don’t. . . .  Vinnie won fair and square . . . You’ll give Vinnie a certificate saying he won the 3rd grade science fair? . . . Will Sara get a certificate. . . . 

Vinnie’s dad touches Vinnie’s mom’s arm and mouths, “Let it go.”

“I won’t let it go,” Vinnie’s mom says out loud. Doctor Cashman believes Vinnie’s mom is talking to her.

“Okay, Doctor Cashman. I accept this proposal. Thank you. Good bye.”

“What was that all about?” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Oh, that Mrs. Navis told Doctor Cashman Vinnie didn’t deserve first place because Rupert helped him and Rupert is a Mensa genius.”

“That’s true,” says Vinnie’s dad laughing. He added, “What did you negotiate?”

“Vinnie gets a certificate that says he’s the grand winner. And, on Monday when he receives his certificate he’ll have his photo taken with Doctor Cashman for the school bulletin board.”

“You’re a tough negotiator,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“What’s going on?” asks Vinnie as he makes the circle for the eleventh time.

“The school declared Sara a co-winner. But I got Doctor Cashman to give you a certificate saying you’re the grand winner. And, you get to have a photo with Doctor Cashman on Monday.”

“Okay. I don’t like Sara, but she had a really good project. I’m glad they made us both winner.”

“You are?”

“Yup. I’m off to better things.”

“What are you up to?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“Rupert and Dexter and me are working on it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

“Oh dear,” says Vinnie’s mom.


“Yes, Vinnie?”

“Can you call Doctor Cashman and tell her I don’t want a photo with her or the certificate? Thanks, Mom. I’ll be in my room with my team.”

Vinnie’s mom looks at Vinnie’s dad, “He didn’t care. Why did I care? Will you call Doctor Cashman, Dear?”

Vinnie’s dad says, “We’re all out of kiwi. I’m going to run to the supermarket.”

“Sweet Jesus, help me,” says Vinnie’s mom.

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