How Can You Sleep? Asks Vinnie’s Mom. LOL

25

Later that night. Much later that night. Vinnie’s mom checks the time on her iPhone. One-fifteen. She glances to her right and sees Vinnie’s dad sleeping as if he had no care in the world. Vinnie’s mom is thinking, ‘I’ve got to get some sleep. I’ll have ugly black circles under my eyes. I won’t have any energy. I’ve tried deep breathing. It didn’t work. I tried counting backward from one-hundred, it didn’t work. I tried visualizing being alone on a peaceful seashore, it didn’t work.’ 

Vinnie’s mom turns on her side and shakes Vinnie’s dad. Vinnie’s dad wakes says, “Huh? What’s wrong?”

“How can you sleep?” asks Vinnie’s mom angrily.

Vinnie’s dad’s brain doesn’t want to work, the best he can come with is, “I close my eyes and fall asleep.”

“I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. Are you taking sleeping pills? I want some.”

“No, Dear, I don’t take sleeping pills.”

“Did you eat turkey behind my back and didn’t offer me any,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad’s brain is slowly coming around, “I have a feeling something is bothering you. Do you want to talk about it?”

“Duh! Where have you been all evening? You’re not bothered by Vinnie’s speech?”

“Un Uh. Should I be? I thought it was very creative. What time is it?” says Vinnie’s dad.

“It’s time we talked about Vinnie’s speech. He is going to get in big trouble if he gives his speech,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad yawns. He stretches his arms over his head. He says, “Do you mind if I go to bathroom before we talk?”

“Don’t you dare to lock yourself in there and say you’re constipated,” responds Vinnie’s mom. 

Vinnie’s dad rubs his eyes, “I’ll hold it even though it’s uncomfortable. What do you want me to do?”

“Don’t you have any ideas? What do you do in court when you know your client is going to lose?”

“I usually have my client accept a plea deal. Do you think that might work with Mrs. Mavis? Don’t take it so seriously. It’s only a fourth grade election. Mrs. Mavis will probably shut him down after his first sentence and send him to the office. One of the other kids will win and our problems are solved. Let’s get some sleep, I think I see dark circles under your eyes.”

Vinnie’s mom takes a deep breath. She touches the skin under her eyes with her fingers. She says, “How bad does it look?” 

Vinnie’s dad squints. He only made it up about the dark circles. He says, “I think they’ll be cleared up the time we get up if get to sleep. It’s all going to work out. Vinnie’s sound asleep. He’s happy. Why burst his bubble?”

“Oh, maybe you’re right. I take everything so seriously, I wish I could be more like you, Dear. Thanks for talking with me,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Let’s go to sleep. I set the alarm for 6. You stay in bed when the alarm goes off, I’ll make coffee and start breakfast.”

“Thanks for reminding me why I married you. I love you. I think I’ll fall right to sleep. You are the best,” says Vinnie’ mom.

Vinnie’s dad puffs himself up like a strutting peacock.  He pulls the cover over Vinnie’s mom, then slips it over himself. Within seconds Vinnie’s mom and dad are sound asleep.

“Vinnie! Vinnie! Vinnie! Vinnie!” A constant chant echos off the walls to the beat of a large pan and spoon while a barking and howling beagle provide background music.

Vinnie’s dad is sitting up straight. He says, “My God, what’s happening?”

“Vinnie’s mom opens one eye, “You handle it, Dear. I don’t want to burst Vinnie’s bubble.”


Vinnie Asks His Mom If She’s Asking Him a Trick Question – LOL

17

Vinnie’s mom reaches to the breakfast bar and picks up a piece of paper. She holds it up in her right hand. She says, “Vincent, do you know what this is?”

Vinnie shrugs and says, “Is it a trick question, Mom. I know it’s a piece of paper.”

“Vincent, do not try my patience. You know what this is.”

“Honest, Mom. I don’t want to try your patients. I’m not a doctor. Do you have patients?”

Vinnie’s mom lifts her eyes toward the ceiling, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, a little help here.”

Vinnie says, “If Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are too busy, Mom. Rupert, me, and Dexter can help.”

Vinnie’s mom takes a deep breath. She’s thinking, he’s not being fresh. He’s being sincere. How can I scold him for his innocence. She takes another deep breath. “Let’s sit at the dining room table. You have some explaining to do young man.”

As Vinnie’s mom and Vinnie walk toward the dining room table, Vinnie says, “Is it about the burp?”

“What burp?”

“Nothing, Mom. I was only talking to myself.”

Vinnie’s mom stops and stands behind a chair at the dining room table, “What burp, Vincent?”

“Mom, it was nothing to most people. But, Joey said I set a world record for the longest burp in history. After Larry stopped laughing, he said it sounded like an out of control freight train. Mom, all the guys burp because it grosses the girls out.”

“What did Mrs. Navis say?”

“She said, all right, who burped, step forward.”

“Did you step forward and own up to making a long, outrageous burp?”

“No way, Mom. If I did, Mrs. Mavis would have sent me to the office and I would have missed my turn to read my first paragraph, which is great. Besides, no one told on me. Mrs. Mavis stared straight at me and said, ‘I think it was you, Vincent.’ All I said was, ‘Mrs. Mavis, I can do a bigger burp. Do you want to hear me? ‘ All the kids started laughing. She told us to go into the room and get ready for class.”

Vinnie’s mom pulls out her chair and sits down. She motions to Vinnie to sit down. Dexter lies on the floor at Vinnie’s feet mistakenly thinking the family is eating an early dinner.

Vinnie says, “Can I get Rupert? He can help me explain some of the stuff you’re going to ask me.”

Vinnie’s mom resists laughing when her mind returns to Doctor Samuel’s office and Doctor Samuel wanting to keep Rupert for her fantasy friend. Vinnie’s mom says, “Okay, but make it quick.”

Vinnie gets off his chair and runs toward his room, Dexter, barks and runs after him. This is the beagle hunting instinct. Dexter is hunting for a snack.

A moment later, Vinnie is sitting at the dining room table and Rupert is sitting on the table facing Vinnie’s mom. Vinnie says, “Can I eat my after school snack first, Mom?I always think better when I have food in my belly.” 

Dexter’s ears perk up at the word food. He lifts his head and begins sniffing, seeking any minute trace of a food scent.

Vinnie’s mom says, “No.”

“She begins reading, “One, I sent Vincent to the office five times. Two, I gave Vincent four timeouts. He cannot sit still. He cannot stop talking. Three, when he finished his math, he took Ralph’s paper and finished it for him. He told Ralph to vote for him in the election on Friday in exchange for doing his math. Four, when the class was singing, Vincent kept changing the words to vote for Vinnie. I knew it was him because everyone was laughing except Vincent. Five, he told me your husband and you approved his first paragraph, really, Mrs. Ricci? Now, I understand only too well. The next three weeks of school cannot go by fast enough for me.”

“Well, Vincent. What do you have to say for yourself?”

Vinnie looks around the dining room. He rubs his chin. He glances at the smiling Rupert. He reaches over to Rupert and picks him up. Vinnie whispers in Rupert’s ear. He turns Rupert around to face his mom. Vinnie speaks in his falsetto voice for Rupert, “Mom, Vinnie is innocent of all charges.”

“Not you too, Rupert?” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Uh huh,” answers Rupert.


Vinnie’s Embarrassed by His Mom’s Hug

15

Three-thirty, Monday afternoon. Vinnie’s mom stands alone on the sidewalk in front of the Johnson’s home on Mulberry Street holding Dexter’s leash. The Johnsons are next door neighbors. Three chatting moms stand together on the sidewalk twenty feet in further up the sidewalk. Dexter’s sniffing the grass on the Johnson’s lawn next to her. Vinnie’s mom is hoping Dexter doesn’t go poop while anyone is looking at her because she didn’t bring a poop bag to scoop the poop. 

Vinnie’s mom is facing State Street. That’s the corner where the school bus will stop and Vinnie will come leaping out of the bus, not touching the steps, land on the ground, throw his arms over his head in the air, and shout, ‘I stuck the landing, 10.0, 1o.o, 10.). Vinnie will turn around and face the students waiting to get off the bus, hold up his hands and say, No applause please.’ He’ll turn an race toward home as if he were being chased by a heat seeking missal.  Vinnie will be screaming, waving his arms, and leaping over bushes and flowerbeds. He’ll pays no attention to the cute little signs some neighbors put in the yard, Keep off the Grass, Pick up after your Dog. Flowers have feelings too. Vinnie’s mom thinks this is the reason none of the other moms want to stand next to her

The yellow school bus comes into view. The bus slows down, flashing orange lights. It stops, the stop sign on the driver’s side sticks out, the red flashing lights flash on and off. The school bus door opens.

Vinnie leaps out of the bus, his backpack slung over his back, his arms raised in a victory sign over his head. He lands. He turns around toward the bus door, “I stuck the landing, perfect scores again from all the judges.”

Vinnie holds up his arms and shouts, “Applause please if you want me to move out of the way.”

Joey and Larry, Vinnie’s friends, start chanting from inside the bus, “Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie.” The other four students, girls, clap their hands because they know Vinnie will not move until he gets his applause.

Vinnie bows, straightens up and says, “Thank you.” He turns and begins racing down Mulberry Street toward his mom and Dexter. He yells at the top of his lungs, “I broke out of prison. I’m free. I’m free. I’m free. They won’t take me alive.”

The three mothers standing together turn and stare at Vinnie’s mom. Vinnie’s mom smiles and waves at Vinnie. Vinnie’s racing toward her as if he is carrying a football. Dexter’s straining at the leash howling in a beagle soprano voice, which is something akin to three first year trumpet players trying to sound louder than each other. 

Vinnie leaps over a rose bush, looks over his shoulder and says, “Missed me.” 

Vinnie’s mom bends over with her arms outstretched thinking Vinnie is going to run into her arms and give her a hug. She’s mistaken. Vinnie races across the Johnson’s lawn and dives head first onto the grass. As he is soaring through the air, he hollers, “Touchdown.”

Vinnie’s mom lets go of the leash and Dexter is all over Vinnie. Vinnie gets up to his knees, he hugs Dexter’s head and says, “I got past you and scored, Buddy. You got to be quicker if you’re going stop me.”

Dexter doesn’t know what Vinnie said. His beagle instincts tell him to sniff Vinnie’s backpack. 

Vinnie says, “You’re such a smart dog. I got a treat from for you.” Vinnie slips off his backpack, opens it and sticks his arm inside. He pulls out a half sandwich. He says, “Joey gave me half of his hot dog sandwich his mom made him. How come you don’t make me good sandwiches like Joey’s mom makes for Joey?”

“Your tunafish sandwich is a healthier choice, that’s why. Why did Joey give you the half of sandwich?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Because he bought his lunch. He ate his other half of sandwich, then he saw they were having macaroni and cheese and he loves it. So he bought lunch. His mom gives him five dollars a week allowance. How come I don’t have an allowance, Mom? I’d probably buy lunch every day.”

Before Vinnie’s mom can answer, Vinnie says, “Dexter sit.” 

Dexter sits.

“Dexter, shake.”

Dexter shakes.

Vinnie gives Dexter the half of sandwich. 

Dexter consumes the sandwich in two bites and a personal record of two point one seconds.

Vinnie turns toward his mom, “What, Mom?”

“Vinnie, I want a hug.”

“But, Mom, the guys will see you hugging me. It’s bad form for the next fourth grade president.”

“Vincent.”

“Yes, Mom.” Vinnie trudges over and hugs his mom.

“Was that so hard?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Vinnie and his mom turn and walk back toward their home. Vinnie’s mom says, “What happened at school today?”

“Wait till you hear, Mom. You won’t believe it.”

Oh my God, Vinnie’s mom thinks. It’s worse than I imagined.


What’s Vinnie Done Now?

23

Vinnie’s dad walks through the front door and steps into the entry way. The only one waiting to greet him is Dexter. Dexter sits on his haunches and waits for a treat. This is a time tested beagle strategy to win over the hardest of hearts.

Vinnie’s dad stoops down and pats Dexter’s head. “One minute, Dexter. I’ll get you a . . .”

“Dear, is that you? I’m doing an extra yoga session. I needed it after I read Mrs. Navis’s email.”

Dexter’s confused. He was following along waiting for the word food or treat when Vinnie’s dad stopped talking and Vinnie’s mom started talking. Dexter asks for clarification and barks.

Vinnie’s dad glances down at Dexter, then says, “Where’s Vinnie? He’s usually waiting for me.”

“Wait a minute, I’m going into the half lotus position and I don’t want to talk. Give Dexter a treat.”

Dexter hears two magic words, his name and treat. Dexter believes this is the highest form of communication in the English language. He heads for the kitchen, the primary source of food. Vinnie’s dad obediently follows him. 

Vinnie’s dad reaches the kitchen, opens the refrigerator, pulls out the meat bin and takes out the last turkey hot dog from the bin. He tosses the whole thing on the floor. He doesn’t want to get Dexter’s drool on his fingers. Dexter bypasses the sniff test and immediately begins consuming the hot dog. four point two seconds later Dexter is on his haunches waiting for another hot dog.

Vinnie’s dad calls out, “Will I need a beer?”

From the half lotus position in the living room, “Yes, and pour me a glass of wine.”

Vinnie’s dad pulls out a locally brewed, high-priced beer and the merlot. He carries both into the dining room and sets them on the table. He returns to the kitchen and gets a wine glass from the cabinet. He doesn’t know where the napkins are and breaks off two paper towels from the paper towel roll. 

Vinnie’s mom is sitting at the living room table when Vinnie’s dad returns. He says, “You look good in yoga pants. I ever tell you that?”

“Pour me my merlot, please. Don’t interrupt. I don’t think it’s Vinnie’s fault. She doesn’t understand him. If we can only get him through the next three months, he’ll be on to fourth grade and away from Mrs. Navis.”

Vinnie’s dad twists the top of the beer bottle, sets the top on the table, and lifts the beer bottle to his lips. He closes his eyes and lets the cool liquid wash away whatever comes next. He finishes his drink, sets the bottle down and says, “What’s Vinnie done now?”

“That’s just it. I’m not sure. She asked me if I am feeding Vinnie sugary cereal or chocolate in the morning for breakfast. The woman’s got a nerve asking me that question.”

“Why did she ask you?” says Vinnie’s dad only listening to part of what Vinnie’s mom is saying.

Vinnie’s mom puts her hand on Vinnie’s dad’s forearm, “Dear, I need your full attention. Look at me. Are you listening to me?”

Vinnie’s dad nods, “Un huh.”

“What did I say?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad scratches his forehead stalling for time while his dendrites scramble for an answer. 

“Well?” demands Vinnie’s mom.

“You said, Mrs. Navis is nervous.”

Suddenly, “Mom, Dad, I’m home. I got a great idea for my science project. We got to go to the store right after dinner so I can experiment.”

Vinnie’s dad believes an unseen cosmic force saves him from complete humiliation. He says, “I better go and see Vinnie.” He gets up and hurries to greet Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom takes a sip of of her merlot. She thinks, “I know he’s mine, but why doesn’t he have any of my DNA?”