Dinner time in the Ricci household. Vinnie’s mom and dad sit aside each other. Vinnie sits on the other side of the table. Rupert sits on the table facing Vinnie’s mom and dad. Dexter lies on the floor next to Vinnie’s chair alert for food dropping from heaven or Vinnie’s plate.
Vinnie stares at his dinner plate. Vinnie’s mom says, “What, Vinnie?”
“Are you sure this won’t kill me?”
Vinnie’s mom twists toward Vinnie’s dad, “Al, take a bite of your food and tell Vinnie how good it is.”
Vinnie’s dad looks at his plate. He says, “It certainly looks delicious. What is it?”
Vinnie interrupts, “Those square things are moving. They’re still alive.”
“Those square things are tofu. They are not alive and they are not moving,” says Vinnie’s mom. She adds, “I got this healthy vegan recipe off the Internet. It’s recommended by doctors.”
“Is it like medicine, Mom?”
Vinnie’s dad knows this will not go down well if he doesn’t eat his meal and ask for seconds. He takes a bite, “This is very good. I love quinoa, tofu and vegetables. It could be one of my favorites, Marti.”
“You’re just saying that, Al, to make me feel good.”
“Oh, no. Honest. It really is good.”
Vinnie drops three pieces of tofu and four pieces of broccoli to Dexter. Dexter apparently is a fan of vegan dishes since he consumed all evidence of the dropped food in two point three seconds.
Vinnie’s mom turns from Vinnie’s dad and glances at Vinnie. “I see you’ve tried it. Unless you try new things, you’ll never know if they are good for you.”
Vinnie says, “Uncle Mike told me he’s got a new pizza special tonight. Can we try it?”
“When were you talking to Uncle Mike?” says Vinnie’s Mom.
“He talked to me while I was waiting for my bus at school this afternoon.”
“What was Uncle Mike doing at school?”
“I didn’t ask him, Mom. I think he came to see his girlfriend.”
“You mean Dr. Cashman.” Vinnie’s mom looks at Vinnie’s dad, “Al, you’ve got to talk to Mike.”
“About what?” asks Vinnie’s dad wishing Dexter were lying next to him.
Vinnie drops two more pieces of tofu and broccoli to Dexter. Then he says, “Do you think it’s fair for Mrs. Mavis to tell us the only questions we can ask our family?”
Vinnie’s dad says, “What’s this about?”
Vinnie’s mom says, “Vinnie got sent to the office today for asking Mrs. Mavis if he could more questions than the questions she put on the handout she gave to the students. There were a couple of other small things that went along with it, but I didn’t get any emails or texts from the school.”
Vinnie smiles at his mom.
“What are the questions?” asks Vinnie’s dad happy to stop eating.
“Mrs. Mavis says we can only interview our parents and no one else. That’s not fair. I want to interview Uncle Mike and Gramps.”
“Why don’t you want to interview Dad and me?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“Mom I don’t want to be mean, but it would be boring. Uncle Mike and Dad’s dad have the best stories. Each time I see them they tell me some of the stuff. My project will be the best in the whole school.”
“I don’t think I’m boring. Do you think I’m boring, Al?”
Vinnie’s dad’s male brain starts sounding emergency alerts, code red, all thought patterns interrupted by an internal voice screaming, ‘don’t go there.’ He says, “Boring? Why just the opposite.” Vinnie’s dad feels a shot of pride rush through him. He didn’t answer incorrectly.
“Tell Vinnie why I would be an exciting interview, Al.”
Vinnie’s dad starts shooting blanks.
“Dear, God. What am I going to do with you two?” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie says, “Heat up the leftover pizza?”