Vinnie’s Dad Gives Up Control of the Remote ~ LOL

14

Sometime after dinner, Vinnie’s mom and dad are sitting on the sofa. Vinnie’s dad is watching a tennis match on television. Vinnie’s mom touches Vinnie’s dad’s forearm and says, “Al, do you mind switching to the Lifetime channel? There’s a romantic comedy I know we’ll both enjoy.”

Vinnie’s dad keeps his eyes glued to the TV screen, “Can we record it and watch it tomorrow? This is an important match. I’d hate to miss it.”

Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes and says, “I’ll agree with you if you can answer either of the two questions I’ll ask you.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Are they easy or hard questions?”

Vinnie’s mom says, “There pretty much easy. It’s about the game you’re watching.”

“It’s a match. In tennis they don’t call them games, they call them matches, but go ahead. I’m ready,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Question one: Who are the players?”

“You said it was easy,” says Vinnie’s dad. “Can I have the second question?”

“Sure. In what city are they playing the game, I mean match?”

Vinnie’s dad turns toward Vinnie’s mom. He says, “Can we make it the best four out of seven?”

“No. Hand me the remote.”

“Do I have to watch the movie?”

“Yes. Don’t you dare get up and get your laptop, iPad or iPhone. You’ll love it. It will relax you from all the stress you have during the day.”

Vinnie’s dad hands Vinnie’s mom the remote. He says, “What’s it about?”

Vinnie’s mom says, “This girl gets in an accident four days before her wedding and goes into a coma. Her fiancé stays by her beside for five weeks telling her stories. The stories are all back stories of their lives since they met. I don’t want to tell you the ending and spoil it for you.”

“You say this is a comedy?”

Before Vinnie’s mom can answer. . . .

“Hey, Mom. Hey, Dad. Want me to tell you about the Grizzlies?” says Vinnie running into the living room carrying Rupert under his right arm. Dexter follows closely to Vinnie’s heels.

Vinnie’s mom touches Vinnie’s dad’s arm, “Al, will you record the movie for me? Sweet Mother of God, help me to hold it together.”

“Mom, what are you trying to hold together? If Mary can’t help you, Rupert will know the answer, he’s smarter than any human. He has the highest IQ in the world and on Mars, maybe on Jupiter and Venus, too,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom stares at Vinnie for a moment, then says, “Can I hold Rupert while you tell me about the Grizzlies?”

“Mom, no can do. Rupert is going to play saxophone for us. He’s also our song writer. He wrote the words to three songs this afternoon. He has to think about the music. Mom, will you and dad travel with the Grizzlies when we become a star rock band?”

Vinnie’s mom says, “That’s a great idea, Vinnie. Dad can handle all the contracts and it will get him away from the mob.” Vinnie’s mom starts convulsing in laughter.

“Dad, Dad, Dad, why is mom lying on the sofa holding her belly laughing so hard tears are going down her face?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad is quick on the mental switch, he says, “Vinnie will you go and get me and you an ice cream sandwich and you can give Dexter the left over couscous.”

“Thanks, Dad. I’ll bring an extra one for Rupert. If he doesn’t want it, I’ll eat it.”

Dexter barks and chases after Vinnie toward the kitchen.

Vinnie’s mom opens her eyes, “Not the leftover couscous?” 


When Vinnie Prays, Even God is Surprised

13

Vinnie’s dad and Vinnie are sitting at the dinning room table. Rupert is sitting on the table smiling at Vinnie’s dad. Dexter is lying on the floor snug against Vinnie’s chair. Vinnie’s mom is in the kitchen. She calls out, “I’ve got a big surprise for my men tonight. You’re going to love dinner.”

Vinnie looks across the table at his dad, “Dad, it’s going to be one of Mom’s healthy meals, right?”

Vinnie’s dad shrugs his shoulders. He doesn’t want to say something to Vinnie that Vinnie will use in the forthcoming conversation between Vinnie and his mom.

“Dad, it’s going to be terrible. I know it.”

Vinnie’s dad feels he has to answer Vinnie although he thinks Vinnie’s might be on to something. He says, “We haven’t seen the meal so we don’t know what it is or if we’ll like it.”

“I can smell it, Dad. It smells like the time we were riding by the pig farm . . .”

“Vinnie, don’t go there. Mom worked hard on making a healthy meal. Suck it up and eat it and tell her how great it is. Can you do that for me?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“I thought you and Mom said lying is wrong, Dad. You want me to lie to Mom?”

“It isn’t exactly lying. Think of it as making Mom feel good,” says Vinnie’s dad knowing this isn’t the end of Vinnie’s questions.

“Is this what you tell your mob clients to do in court, Dad? Do you tell them to lie so the judge will feel good?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad clears his throat, ” I never advise my clients to lie. If I did it would be crime. I could go to jail for five years.”

“How many of your clients go to jail, Dad? Is jail food better than the food Mom cooks?”

Vinnie’s dad glances over toward the kitchen. He says, “Mom’s coming. Be polite.”

Vinnie’s mom walks toward the living room carry a large dish piled high with an exotic looking meal. Her smile is as broad as the bowl is wide. She sets the bowl on the table and says, “Gentlemen, this wonderful healthy meal is called Yummy couscous, vegetable chicken salad with dates, raisins, and rosemary mixed in to it. I know you both are going to be begging for seconds.”

Vinnie’s mom sits down at the table and joins hands with Rupert and Vinnie’s dad. Vinnie holds Rupert’s paw and his dad’s hand. Vinnie’s mom says, “Vinnie will say grace?”

Vinnie’s dad knows this is the worse case. When Vinnie prays, even God doesn’t know what Vinnie is going to say.

Vinnie says, “Lord, please bless this food so we won’t die after we eat it. Forgive me for having to lie and tell Mom it is delicious to make her feel good. Make sure the police don’t find out that Dad asked me to lie so he won’t have to go to prison. Amen.”

“Vincent. You haven’t tasted it. You are going to love it,” says Vinnie’s mom putting an extra large scoop on Vinnie’s plate. “Every bite, Vincent. Every bite.”

Vinnie says, “I can’t wait to eat it, Mom. It smells great and I bet it tastes as good as it looks. Can I take a plate of it to Joey’s house. They never eat healthy. They’ll probably think it’s the best food they ever ate.” Vinnie winks at his dad.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Vinnie’s mom says to Vinnie’s dad.

“Mom?” Vinnie interrupts his mom.

Vinnie’s dad is happy for the save.

Vinnie’s mom turns her attention back to Vinnie, “What? Let me see your fork moving from your plate to your mouth.”

“I can’t eat and talk at the same time, Mom. What am I supposed to do?”

“What did you want to say?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Two things, Mom. The first is Joey, and Larry, and me are going to start a band. We’re going to be the Grizzlies. Rupert thought of the name. It’s a great name for the group, right, Mom? We’re going to ask Sara to sing and play piano.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “We need to talk about this. What is the second thing?”

Vinnie is picking around his plate. He says, “I found four small pieces of chicken. Can I trade Dad all my stuff but the chicken for all his chicken?”




Vinnie Thinks He Can Do a Drum Solo

12

Vinnie, Joey, and Larry are at the playground behind Larry’s house. Vinnie’s swinging on the monkey bars, Joey’s going head first down a tall winding slide, and Larry is climbing up a rope ladder. Vinnie calls out, “I got this great idea about what we can do the rest of the summer.”

Joey, who completed his head first descent down the slide looks up from the sand at the bottom of the slide at Vinnie finishing his way across the monkey bars. Joey says, “What’s wrong with going to the playground every day, sleeping late, and staying up late and doing whatever I want to do?”

Vinnie’s off the monkey bars and races to an eight foot plastic wall with small plastic rocks sticking out. He starts climbing the wall. Vinnie hollers over his shoulder, “My mom won’t let me do whatever I want. I can only sleep until 7 and I have to be in bed by eight-thirty.”

Larry reaches the top of the rope ladder. He’s dangling by one arm and swinging back and forth. Larry hollers, “Me too.” He lets go of the rope and lands on the sand falling to his knees. He looks up at Vinnie, “One day I’ll stick the landing. What’s your idea Vinnie?”

The three boys run over to the swings. Vinnie says, “Let’s see who can let go and fly the farthest.” 

Vinnie, Joey, and Larry pull and pump on the swings. The three appear as three slightly out of sync pendulums going higher and higher. Larry lets go of the swing and makes a howling scream that sounds like a coyote chasing a rabbit. He lands on his feet, tumbles over to his hands and knees. The rules of the game require him to freeze on his landing. 

Joey quickly follows Larry. He screams as he travels through the air, landing a bit behind Larry but rolling over three times in the sand until he his on is back facing the sky. His arms outstretched. 

“No fair,” yells Larry.

“Not to worry, Larry. I’m on it,” says Vinnie. He pumps harder, he pulls back on the swing and rises higher.

“Watch out, Vinnie. You’re going to swing over the top,” calls Joey.

Three-fourths of the way up Vinnie let’s go of the swing. As he sails through the air, he hollers, “No more Mrs. Mavis.”  He lands in front of Joey and sticks the landing.

“How do you stick the landing? Will you show me?” asks Larry.

“Rupert told me the secret. I have to ask him if he’ll let me tell you,” says Vinnie. 

Larry and Joey sit in the sand along side Vinnie. Vinnie says, “Here’s my idea. Let’s start a band.”

Larry says, “I didn’t know you played an instrument.”

Vinnie says, “I don’t, but I was thinking I might like to play drums. I’m pretty sure I could do a drum solo.”

“What kind of stuff will we play? I can play air guitar,” says Joey.

Larry says, “My dad has an old trumpet he used to play in high school. Every once in a while he takes it out to play it. I tried it a couple of times. If we’re all playing instruments, who’s going to sing?”

Vinnie says, “Sara Johnson. I haven’t asked her. She’s really good at soccer so she’s got to be good at singing.”

Joey says, “Yah, and she can run fast, too.”

“We got to have a name for our band,” says Vinnie. “Any ideas? I was thinking we could call ourselves The Mulberries since we all live on Mulberry Street.”

“What about calling us The Chicken Wings, since we all like chicken wings?” asks Joey.

Larry says, “What was Rupert’s idea?”

“Rupert says we could call ourselves the Grizzlies or the Grizzly Bears.”

The boys look at each other and begin chanting, “Grizzlies, Grizzlies, Grizzlies.”


Vinnie’s Got a Great Idea

11

Vinnie’s mom sits at the breakfast bar holding her coffee cup with both hands. Vinnie’s dad sits next to her, his right hand on his coffee mug, a small plate with a a half eaten bagel sits on the plate in front of him. 

Vinnie’s mom says, “I have to admit, Mike did a great job. He was able to get a backhoe in, dig up the pipe, take out the broken section, and replace it. He even brought in landscapers to fix the Johnson’s lawn. It actually looks better than it did before. How much do we owe him?”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Nothing. Mike refused to take any money.”

“That’s not right, Al. It cost him lots of money to make the repairs,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Mike told me he’ll call in favors when . . .”

“Don’t say another word. I don’t want to know. We won’t go to jail will we?” says Vinnie’s mom.

Before Vinnie’s dad can answer, Vinnie comes running down the hall from his bedroom into the kitchen. Dexter is chasing him. Vinnie says, “I’ve got a great idea. It’s even better than my last idea.”

“Dear God, help us,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie comes to a sliding stop in his stocking feet next to his mom. Vinnie’s mom puts her arm around Vinnie’s shoulder and says, “Good morning, Vinnie. You slept an extra hour.”

“No I didn’t, Mom. I was awake at four. Rupert and Dexter and me had a snack, we were starving. I always think better when I’m not starving. It helps Dexter too. You should have heard us talking about what we wanted to do this summer.”

“I didn’t hear you get up and go into the kitchen. What did you eat?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad decides to jump in, “Hey, do I get a hug and a good morning?”

Vinnie looks at his dad, “Sure, Dad. As soon as I have breakfast.”

Vinnie’s dad has a hurt look on his face that suddenly changes to a beautiful sunrise when Vinnie jumps up and grabs hold of his dad around the neck. “Good Morning, Dad. You’re going to love my idea. I might even hire you.”

Vinnie’s dad glances over at the coffee he spilled on the breakfast bar from Vinnie’s jarring hug. Vinnie’s mom takes a photo of Vinnie dangling from his dad’s neck with her iPhone.

Vinnie lets go of his dad’s neck and drops to the floor. He says, “I got to talk to Joey and Larry first. I might even ask Sara Johnson to join us.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “Sara? Sara Johnson? I thought you didn’t like her.”

Vinnie’s standing at the refrigerator holding the door open with his right hand. He turns his head toward his mom, “Sara’s really good at soccer, which makes her okay. Since Mrs. Mavis is not my teacher anymore, if Sara’s in my class, she’ll probably be normal. Mom, there’s nothing good to eat in here. I’m starving.”

“You ate at four o’clock. What did you eat?”

“A frozen pizza and two ice cream sandwiches,” says Vinnie as if eating frozen pizza is as normal as brushing his teeth. He continues, “Dexter ate three frozen turkey burgers. Rupert drank an apple juice but he couldn’t finish it so I helped him.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Dexter ate my frozen turkey burgers?”


Vinnie Asks, “Mom Are You Still Mad at Me?”

10

Vinnie sits on his bed, his back propped against a pillow, his legs stretched out in front on him. Rupert sits on Vinnie’s legs staring at Vinnie. Dexter lies on the floor next to Vinnie’s bed.  Vinnie looks at Rupert, “Do you think Mom meant it when she said I have to stay in my bedroom for the rest of the summer?”

Vinnie grabs hold of Rupert and lifts him. He uses his falsetto voice for Rupert. 

Rupert says, “She is pretty mad. When you went to the door and hollered, ‘Mom are you still mad, she said, ‘Yes.'”

“We’ve got to think of a way to brighten her spirits, Buddy. Mom could use a little cheering up. I don’t think she’s mad at me.”

“You don’t?” asks Rupert.

“I think she’s more upset with Mrs. Johnson. Uncle Mike pulled his truck over her lawn so he could get to our back yard. Mrs. Johnson should be mad at Uncle Mike, not at me.”

“I got an idea for you, Bro,” says Rupert.

“What is it Rupert? I need some food before Dad gets home. I’m starving. I could go for a bean burrito or a pizza or an ice cream sandwich. Maybe I could eat all three.”

Dexter looks up with his evolutionary beagle look designed to convince humans to feed beagles because they’re so cute.

Vinnie holds Rupert a bit closer to his face. Rupert says, “I’m don’t want to say this too loud, in case the Johnsons are listening.”

“Good idea, Rupert. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have listening devices in my room.”

Vinnie pulls Rupert against his ear. He shakes Rupert up and down a couple of times. Vinnie nods his head each time he shakes Rupert. When Rupert is finished, Vinnie sets Rupert on his legs. Vinnie says, “Rupert, it is true, there is no one smarter than you on our planet and I think on any other planet. This idea will make Mom so happy. I think it will make Dad happy too.”

Vinnie turns his head toward the door. “I think I heard Dad’s car pull in.”

Dexter’s on all fours, he’s at the bedroom door. He barks and howls. Vinnie gets off the bed, he opens his bedroom door, he hollers, “Mom, I’m letting Dexter out to greet Dad. Can I get out of jail to see Dad?”

Vinnie’s mom is standing in the doorway, Dexter is by her side, she turns her head back toward Vinnie’s bedroom. You are not in jail. You are in your room. You can come out and greet Dad.”

Vinnie hollers, “Are you still mad?”

“No, I am not mad. Come here so I can hug you.”

Vinnie runs down the hallway, across the living room and into the entryway. His arms are stretched out. His mom is bending over, her arms are stretched out to catch him. Vinnie leaps into her arms and she holds Vinnie close to her and rubs his head. She says, “Little guy, what am I going to do with you?”

Vinnie looks up at his mom and says, “Can you make me a bean and cheese burrito?”


Vinnie Struck Water, Oh Oh

9

Vinnie’s mom looks out the back window. She watches Vinnie, Joey, and Larry studying a large white poster board with lines haphazardly drawn over it. Dexter lies on the lawn next to Vinnie. Rupert sits on a table on the deck watching the boys and Dexter. Vinnie’s mom thinks this is the cutest thing. The boys are busy talking and it looks to her like they are having fun. Vinnie’s mom thinks, Vinnie is finally settling into summer break. I can begin to relax and not worry about telling him who his teacher is until I get the official letter. Maybe they’ll change their minds. She silently wishes.

Vinnie’s mom walks to the deck door, slides it open and calls out, “Are you boys okay? Do you want some water or a piece of watermelon?”

Vinnie turns around and says, “No thanks, Mom. We’re really busy right now. Maybe a little later.”

Dexter wonders how Vinnie can turn down food. He’s not sure what watermelon is, but it sounds like it could be food to the beagle ear.

“What do you have on your poster board, can I see?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“It’s a map of the yard, Mom. We’re making sure we didn’t miss anything when we were making it,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom thinks, I wish I recorded this so Al could see it. He’d be so happy to see Vinnie and his friends enjoying whatever it is they’re doing. Vinnie’s mom takes one last look at the boys, Dexter, and Rupert and decides to take a long, relaxing hot shower. It’s something she hasn’t done in a while.

Vinnie’s mom goes into the bathroom, she selects the music app on her iPad and chooses an album by her favorite artist. She sets iPad down on the countertop. She lights a scented candle, turns the water on in the shower, and steps in. Five minutes pass, Vinnie’s mom is settling in to a relaxed state. She begins to sing with the recording artist. She lathers and rinses, lathers and rinses. In the middle of her third lathering, the water abruptly stops. She turns, twists the faucet, no water. She steps out of the shower and wraps a towel around her body and tries each faucet in the two bathroom sinks, no water. She picks up her phone to text Teresa Johnson next door to ask if she lost water, when . . .

“Mom, Mom, Mom, we struck oil. Come quick. We hit a gusher in the backyard,” screams Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom hears the door slam as Vinnie runs out of the house to stare at the oil strike. Vinnie’s mom tracks soapsuds through her bedroom, down the hallway to the kitchen. She looks out the window to the backyard. Vinnie, Joey, and Larry and are jumping up and down, hollering, “We’re rich. We’re rich. We’re rich.”

The boys surround a hole they dug in Vinnie’s yard. A streak of water is shooting thirty feet in the air out of the hole.

Vinnie’s mom’s heart reaches an anaerobic heart rate and her blood pressure spikes. She speed dials Vinnie’s dad.

“Al, Vinnie struck oil, I mean water in our yard. . . .  Don’t tell me to calm down, we don’t have any water. I was in the shower and I’m covered with soap. We’re going to flood out the neighborhood. Do something. . . .  Don’t call Mike, he’ll only make things worse. . . .  No, I don’t have a better idea, how about a plumber? . . . .  I know Mike did plumbing work without a license before he was arrested for stealing jewelry. . . .  I don’t care if you got him off with time served. . . . I am not going to stand under the geyser and rinse off.  . . .  I don’t care if the judge is banging her gavel . . .  Al? Al? Al?


Vinnie’s Got It All Figured Out – What Could Go Wrong?

8

Joey, Larry, Vinnie, Rupert, and Dexter are in Vinnie’s room. Vinnie tip toes to the bedroom door, he opens it. His mom is pretending to dust a photo mounted on the wall near Vinnie’s room. 

Vinnie says, “Mom, you’re not supposed to listen to us. It’s top secret.”

Vinnie’s mom feels herself turning red. She pretends to wipe her brow with her hand. The problem being she wiped her brow with the dust rag and it causes her sneeze.”

“Bless you, Mom. Can you go practice your yoga or watch the food channel, make a smoothie or go shopping with Aunt Jo,” says Vinnie politely.

“No, I am staying home. You boys need supervision,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Mom, don’t you want to be rich? We can’t start until we have some space.”

Vinnie’s mom puts her hand to her chin and tilts her head upwards as if she’s thinking about it. 

“Mom, can you make five bagged lunches for us, we’re going to be like Dad and have working lunches today. We got so much to do,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom thinks this is the cutest thing she’s heard in a long time. Vinnie, Larry, and Joey want a working lunch. She says, “Why five lunches?”

“Mom, what about Rupert and Dexter?” Vinnie turns his head slightly toward the bedroom, “Rupert, what do you want for lunch?”

Vinnie covering his mouth with his hand and using his falsetto voice for Rupert says, “Mom, can you microwave me a frozen pizza or burrito? Dexter wants the same thing.”

Dexter hears his name and barks.

Vinnie’s mom smiles and shakes her head approvingly. “Okay. I’m trusting you boys not to cause any trouble.”

“Not to worry, Mom.

Vinnie’s mom heads into the kitchen, opens her iPad and plays her music app. She sure Vinnie’s summer turned the corner. The only problem left is to tell him about being in Mrs. Mavis’s class in the fall. That can wait, she reasons to herself. 

Meanwhile, in Vinnie’s room, Joey, Larry, and Vinnie huddle around a white poster board that Vinnie placed on the floor. Rupert is between Vinnie and Larry. Dexter is between Vinnie and Joey. 

Vinnie says, “After Mom and Dad thought I was asleep, I got out of bed and figured out where we’ll strike oil. I made a map of exactly where the oil is in my yard.”

Joey says, “How do you know you have oil in your back yard?”

Vinnie’s says, “That was the easiest thing to figure out, Joey. The hardest thing was to figure out the exact spot. Dexter helped me figure that out yesterday afternoon.”

“How was it so easy to figure out?” asks Joey.

Larry says, “I’m starving. Do you think your mom will bring our bag lunches soon?”

Vinnie says, “Larry, you go out and ask my mom if you can help her. While you’re keeping her busy, I’ll tell Joey how I figured everything out. We can fill you in while we eat.”

“Good idea, Vinnie. No wonder you got elected 4th grade class president. You figure things out even our parents can’t figure out.”

“That’s because Rupert helps me. Do you know who your getting in the fall?”

“My mom call the school office. They told her it will come out in the mail a week before school starts,” says Larry opening the bedroom door. “I’ll kick the door with my foot if I need you to open it for me when I come back.”

Vinnie gets up and closes the door behind Larry. He walks back to the poster board sheet and kneels down. He says, “The reason I know there’s oil in my yard. I heard my dad say to my mom, ‘The way taxes are going up, you’d think they figured out I discovered oil in my backyard.”

“That’s awesome,” says Joey who high fives Vinnie.

“All I had to do was figure out where Dad discovered the oil. He’s a lawyer for the mob and he doesn’t have time to drill for it. So, I thought we could do it for him.”

“He’s going to be so happy when we strike oil, Vinnie. We’ll be so rich we can throw a block party and give away free ice cream,” says Joey.

“I was thinking the same thing, Joey. Fist bump,” says Vinnie.