Vinnie’s mom checks the time on her iPhone. They’d been playing for fifteen minutes. It seems like fifteen years, she wonders if it will ever end. Vinnie’s dad is on his third cup of coffee. Vinnie is taking one question after the other out of his lunch box and crumpling them into balls and building a fence around Rupert with them.
Suddenly, he stops crumpling the questions and says, “Ah hah. I found the perfect question. I’ve made a rule change to help you. First, I think I’ll put game recommended for smart people when I get a box for it,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom makes a deep sigh. She says, “What is the rule change, Vinnie?”
Vinnie says, “Since you both have trouble answering an easy question, I’ve taken out the competition part. You are now partners playing against Rupert and Dexter.”
Vinnie’s mom glances at Vinnie’s dad and says, “We’re playing against a stuffed animal and a beagle?”
“Apparently so, dear,” answers Vinnie’s dad.
Vinnie’s mom says, “I need a five minute break. It might be good for all of us.”
“I agree with Mom,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“Will you set your iPhone timer for five minutes. If you both are not ready to play in five minutes, you get penalized and Rupert and Dexter will get your points.”
Dexter slowly got up on all fours and barks thinking he was being called to eat. Rupert sat on the table against the lunch box, his smile never leaving his face.
Vinnie’s mom left the dining room and headed to the bedroom. Vinnie’s dad didn’t bother putting on a coat before he heads out to the deck where the large round circle thermometer read both 140 F or -10 C. Vinnie’s dad prefers reading the Fahrenheit reading because it seems warmer.
With his parents out of the room, Vinnie uses the time to prep Dexter in the only language Dexter knows, food. Vinnie walks into the kitchen, Dexter trails closely behind. Vinnie opens the pantry door, he finds his dad’s favorite snack, a soy based faux meat jerky beef stick. He takes the largest bag, opens it and turns to Dexter. Dexter immediately sits on his haunches. Dexter knows this is the default position for receiving rewards from adults.
Vinnie opens the package, breaks a piece of jerky off and says, “Dexter, bark if you know the answer.”
Dexter is not too bright, but food is an excellent incentive. After five tries, Dexter catches on.
Vinnie’s mom hollers from the bedroom, “What’s Dexter barking at?”
Vinnie answers, “He’s practicing answering questions. How much time is left on the timer, Mom?”
There is a brief pause. Then Vinnie’s mom answers, “There’s one minute and five seconds.”
“You better get Dad, Mom. Rupert and Dexter are ready to play.”
On time, Vinnie’s mom, Vinnie’s dad, Vinnie, Rupert, and Dexter are in place for the game to continue.
Vinnie’s dad looks at Vinnie’s mom, “Isn’t it a bit early for a glass of wine, Dear?”
“No,” answers Vinnie’s mom.
“Do you mind if I get a beer?” asks Vinnie’s dad.