Vinnie Says He Works Better Under Pressure



“Hi Mrs. Nokowski. I’ll be seeing a lot of you this year. Can Pete put a desk in here for me?” asks Vinnie.

“Vinnie, did you have a good summer?” asks Mrs. Nokowski.

“I had the best summer. I got kicked out of summer water polo because I made up rules. I went on a field trip to a working ranch and got sent home a day early. My friends and me started an air band, but our parents wouldn’t let us play at the mall. It was the best summer ever. That’s why I want to see Mrs. Mavis. I want to tell the class all about my summer before anybody else has a chance to talk. Can I Mrs. Mavis, can I? Please.”

Dr. Cashman sees Mrs. Mavis’s complexion turn redder than ketchup. She fears Mrs. Mavis is verging on a stroke. She interrupts, “Vinnie, I’m just finishing up with Mrs. Mavis. Hurry on to your classroom before the late bell rings.”

“That was one of the things I wanted to ask you, Dr. Cashman,” says Vinnie.

“What did you want to ask me?” asks Dr. Cashman.

“Can class presidents have a permanent pass to be late for class and sometimes miss boring classes to work on president stuff?”

Mrs. Mavis’s left eye begins twitching to a Tejano beat.

Dr. Cashman musters a smile, “I see you’ve been thinking about your role as fourth grade president this summer Vinnie. There are lots of things we will talk about.”

“I only really started thinking about it when I took the bus this morning. I work better under pressure. I never do my homework until the last second, unless Mrs. Mavis makes me work on it in class because I’m too talkative.”

Mrs. Mavis right eye joins her left eye in a salsa.

Meanwhile  . . . At Starbucks

Vinnie’s dad is meeting with Vinnie’s uncle Mike at Starbucks. Vinnie’s dad says, “Usually we meet at the jail or courthouse prior to a bail hearing, Mike. What’s the big deal? Who’s suing you? Did you get a subpoena from a Federal agency?”

Uncle Mike sips a cup filled with four shots of espresso. “I wish they’d make their espresso stronger. This stuff tastes like water. You wanna sip?”

“Uh, no thanks. I want to sleep tonight,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Lawyers got too much stress, stress makes your stomach weak. Me, I don’t have any stress,” says uncle Mike.

Vinnie’s dad thinks, ‘Yah, you dump it all on me.’ “What’s up, Mike.”

“Slow down, Al. We’re brothers, remember. Do you want to talk about the second thing or the third thing?”

“What about the first thing?” asks Vinnie’s dad secretly fearing what the first thing might be.

“You don’t want to know nothing about the first thing. Maybe later, if the first thing becomes the second thing and the second thing becomes the third thing and the third thing becomes the fourth thing. That’s a lot of things, if you know what I mean,” says Mike.

Vinnie’s dad’s stomach does a triple axil and sticks it perfectly. Vinnie’s dad forces his breakfast bagel back down. He says, “I think I know what you mean, if you mean if I knew about the first thing I’d be obliged to tell the police about it.”

“Did I say the first thing was illegal, now did I?” asks uncle Mike.


“So, don’t ask me about the first thing, but you can ask me about the second or third thing. If you ask me about the third thing, ask me first to make it the second thing and the second thing the third thing.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “I think it’s simpler if we start with the second thing.”

Vinnie’s uncle Mike says, “If you start with the third thing, it covers a lot of the second thing and you can go to court to bail Gino out. I need him for the lunch crowd.”

“I didn’t know Gino was arrested?” says Vinnie’s dad.

“It’s a simple misunderstanding between Gino and this guy who cut him off on the highway this morning.”

“Is the other guy pressing charges?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“I dunno, he’s still unconscious,” says Vinnie’s uncle Mike. “Now about the second thing. I’m in love and I want to get married. I want you to be the best man.”

Vinnie’s dad smiles for the first time this morning. “Congratulations, Mike. Who is the lucky woman? Do I know her?”

“She don’t know I’m gonna marry her, but it is inevitable.”

“Who is she?”

“Dr. Cashman, Vinnie’s principal.”

Vinnie’s dad reaches for the uncle Mike’s espresso and swallows the four shots.


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