Vinnie’s mom sits in a comfortable, leather covered chair in Doctor Samatha Samuels office. She picks a stack of magazines off the table next to her chair. She runs through them, People, Glamour, Cosmo, Elle, Vogue, and Woman’s Day. She shows the magazines to the person sitting next to her and says, “Rupert, do you want to look at a magazine?”
Vinnie’s mom tries to speak in Vinnie’s falsetto voice for Rupert, “No thanks, Mom. I’m meditating.”
The receptionist watches the verbal interaction between Vinnie’s mom and Vinnie’s stuffed grizzly bear, Rupert. She picks up her phone, presses a button, and says, “You need to see this.”
A moment later, a short, grey haired, grandmotherly woman opens the door. Dr. Samuels steps into the reception room and follows the receptionists arm and pointed finger toward Vinnie’s mom. She sees Vinnie’s mom holding Rupert on her lap and reading Cosmo to him.
Doctor Samuel clears her throat, “Excuse me. Mrs. Ricci, may I call you by your first name?”
Vinnie’s mom looks up from Cosmo, a red flush covers her face. She stands up holding Rupert against her side with her right hand. Vinnie’s mom says, “You can call me, Marti, it’s short for Martina.”
Vinnie’s mom glances at Rupert and turns her attention back to Doctor Samuel, “This is Rupert. You asked me to bring him to our session. I don’t believe he’s real. I was only having fun pretending I was Vinnie.” Vinnie’s mom takes a quick glance at Rupert to see if Rupert approves her answer. Rupert smiles. Then again, Rupert is always smiling.
Doctor Samuel walks over and shakes Vinnie’s mom’s hand. She glances at Rupert and says, “Rupert, I’m Doctor Samuel. It’s a pleasure to know you.” Doctor Samuel shakes Rupert’s paw.
Vinnie’s mom answers for Rupert, “Thank you. It’s a pleasure to know you. Mom is not nuts.”
A moment later, Vinnie’s mom sinks into a cushy chair and feels as if she is sitting on the floor. Doctor Samuel’s sits in an equally cushy chair facing her.
Doctor Samuel says, “What seems to be the problem other than believing Rupert is real?”
“That’s just it Doctor Samuel, Vinnie, my son, expects me to talk to Rupert and Dexter, his beagle, as if they are real people. My husband does it too.”
“Call me Sam, please.”
“Vinnie’s teacher is emailing me every day telling me Vinnie is disruptive and she wants him to be normal like everyone else.”
“Ah,” says Doctor Samuel, “And, Vinnie is not like every one else, right?”
“No, he isn’t. He’s always questioning. He’s always pushing Al and me to the edge. It’s like we have to listen to every word or he makes his own interpretation of what we mean.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“I’m going nuts, that’s what’s wrong, Sam.”
Doctor Samuel leans forward and closer to Vinnie’s mom, “Vinnie sounds like an intelligent, inquisitive, eight year old. If you listen to the teacher, you’ll do him a large disservice.”
“But he gets sent to the office and put in time out at least four or five times a day.”
“Ha, it’s better than six times a day, right Rupert?”
Vinnie’s Mom stares at Rupert and hears Doctor Samuel try to imitate the voice Vinnie’s mom was using, “Right, Doctor Samuel. Vinnie’s my best friend. He tells me everything.”
Vinnie’s mom starts to wonder if Doctor Samuel is nuts. Vinnie’s mom says, I’m paying for the hour, not Rupert. He’s normal for a stuffed grizzly bear.”
Doctor Samuel turns her attention away from Rupert to Vinnie’s mom. “No, Rupert is not normal. He’s much smarter than the average stuffed grizzly bear. Believe me, I know.”
Vinnie’s mom decides not to bring Dexter, the family overweight beagle and Vinnie second best friend into the conversation.
Vinnie’s mom tries to change the conversation. She says, “You should hear the beginning of Vinnie’s fiction story. He’s doing a fiction story about running for class president of the fourth grade. It’s not fiction, he really is running for class president. He’s only making the names and places different. It’s obvious he’s using Mrs. Mavis, his teacher, in the story and it’s not complimentary. They do not get along. He calls her Mrs. Mapis.”
Doctor Samuel starts laughing, “That’s rich. I like it. I didn’t like my third grade teacher. I had this crush on Lester and I wanted to pass him notes with hearts on it. But, my third grade teacher caught me passing notes and made a production out of it.”
“Is this my session or yours?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“I have problems too and by sharing them we help each other,” says Doctor Samuel.
“I’m paying two-hundred dollars and hour for help. Can I get a refund?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“Sorry, they taught us in graduate school, never to give refunds, it sets a bad example. Now, I was saying about Lester … Marti? Marti? Where are you going? You still have twenty minutes. Please don’t take Rupert we were enjoying each other.”
Fifteen minutes later Vinnie’s mom is driving home, she speed dials Vinnie’s dad. He answers.Vinnie’s mom blurts, “You’re not going to believe this.”