Vinnie Thinks His Mom Would be Cool if She Made Long Burps

18

“Dad, Dad, Dad, can Dexter and Rupert play too? Don’t feel bad if they do better than you and Mom,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom quick to remember the painful experience of the game Vinnie invented, says, “No invented games, Vinnie. It has to be a game we all know. It’s only fair.”

Dexter is sitting on his haunches. It’s an automatic response to hearing his name called. Dexter, like all other beagles, learns early on as part of dog etiquette. Dexter knows sitting on his haunches tells humans he is a beagle with good breeding and a strong sense of dignity. 

Vinnie’s mom twists and sees Dexter. She says, “Why is Dexter sitting?”

Dexter’s ears perk up and his tongue drops out of his mouth. 

“Is Dexter smiling at me?” asks Vinnie’s mom. “That is so adorable.” Vinnie’s mom reaches into the overstuffed book bag and pulls out a package of doggie treats. She tears the top off of the bag and takes out three treats. 

Vinnie’s mom hands the treats to Vinnie, “Here, Vinnie. Dexter is the cutest dog, he can have a treat.”

Vinnie reaches for the treats. Dexter’s eyes follow the exchange. His tail now moving to the beat of Ed Sheeran singing a love song. Even the remote possibility of food stirs strong, instinctive romantic images in Dexter’s mind even if he’s neutered. 

“Thanks, Mom. Dexter sit. Oh, you’re already sitting. Good one, Dexter. Shake. Good boy. Stand up. Good boy. Lie down. Good boy. Dexter may be the smartest beagle in the world, Mom. He ate his three pieces. He’s ready to play. We are going to play, Can you see what I see. I go first.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “That’s not a fair game, Vinnie, because you can see things in the back and out the side windows. I have to keep my eyes on the road.”

“Thank you, Dear. You saved us from extraordinary suffering,” says Vinnie’s Mom.

“What did Dad do, Mom? Did he miss hitting an antelope? Did he swerve out the way of a runaway truck? Is Dad a hero, Mom? Is he, Mom?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad glances over at Vinnie’s mom, “Am I a hero?”

How did I weave my own trap? We have seven more days of this vacation and we’re not close to the Grand Canyon. Why didn’t we fly? No, we tried that once and I think Vinnie got us on the Watch List. Whose idea was the car ride? The thoughts rain through Vinnie’s mom’s mind circling and diving deeper and deeper forming a vortex from which few humans recover. Fortunately, Vinnie saves her.

“Rupert says Dad is a hero, Mom. Rupert is the second smartest person I know and the smartest grizzly bear I know.”

Vinnie’s dad always seeking to show his sensitive male side, says, “Rupert was thinking what Mom was thinking. He must be able to read minds. I’m sure Mom is the smartest person in the world.”

“Sorry, Mom. You’re not the smartest person in the world. I have proof who’s the smartest person in the world.

Vinnie’s Dad attempts thought projection into Vinnie’s mom’s mind telling her to let Vinnie’s comment go. He quickly realizes Vinnie’s mom set up a barrier blocking incoming thought projections.

“If I am not the smartest person you know, I want to know who is the smartest person you know,” says Vinnie’s mom sounding hurt.

“Mom, can you take your finger off?”

“That’s a silly trick, Vinnie. It has nothing to do with intelligence,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Can you take quarters out of my ear?”

“There are no quarters in your ear and there never were quarters in your ear,” says Vinnie’s mom already knowing where Vinnie is going before Vinnie announces where he is going.

“I think you’re mistaken, Mom. Can you make burps about two meters long?”

“What does burping have to do with intelligence, Vincent?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Everything, Mom. Gramps said there’s science behind long, loud burps. When he came over last week, he was teaching me to do it. You want to know what he taught me?”

“Your Dad is one of the most interesting and intelligent men I’ve met, Dear,” says Vinnie’s dad trying to be sensitive again and again failing.

“What would you think, Vincent, if I made loud, long burps,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie answers, “You would be the coolest mom in the all the world. Can we play 20 questions? I go first.”

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Vinnie’s Dad Offers Vinnie’s Mom a Lifeline – LOL

17

The SUV cruises along on a remote stretch between Amarillo, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Vinnie sits quietly in the backseat with Rupert squeezed between his knees facing him. Vinnie’s mom has a subconscious imaginary circle, one-hundred meters in diameter, with Vinnie at the Center sending cosmic beams from the perimeter toward Vinnie. The Imaginary circle operates much like radar, pinging back a signal when it reaches Vinnie. The returning volume of size of the ping back emanating from the epicenter of the circle, e.g., wherever Vinnie is located, indicates the cosmic effect Vinnie is having on his immediate environment. At the moment, Vinnie’s mom’s radar is picking up a faint beeping signal. This signal is only heard by moms because dads are either too insensitive to pick up the cosmic broadcast, or, if in the strange circumstance they do pick up the cosmic signal, they interpret its meaning incorrectly believing everything is okay.

Vinnie’s mom picks up the signal while reading social media on her iPhone. She casually says, “Vinnie, everything okay back there?”

No answer from the back seat.

The volume of the cosmic ping back increases.

Vinnie’s mom, reading the most recent Facebook post from her sister, calls out, “Vinnie, I said is everything okay back there.” 

The communication from Vinnie’s Mom flew past Vinnie’s dad without landing. He was playing with the dashboard console trying to figure out how to make it shuffle the songs on his iPhone.

Still no answer from the backseat.

Vinnie’s mom turns around and sees Vinnie using his hands to pry different parts of his face into a grotesque configurations. One part of Vinnie’s mom wants to scream and tell Vinnie to stop it. The other part wants to laugh. 

Now, Vinnie has a forefinger in each side of his mouth stretching it sideways. 

Now, Vinnie is pulling his two ears forward and sticking his tongue out at Rupert.

Now, Vinnie inserts his forefinger and middle finger into his nostrils and and lifts them up while sticking his tongue out.

Vinnie’s mom can take no more. “Vincent, that’s disgusting. Take your fingers out of your nose this instant.”

Vinnie with the fingers still in his nose turns toward his mom, “Why, Mom. Rupert and me are having an ugly face contest. He’s winning. I have to make uglier faces than him.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “I don’t care what Rupert is doing, I care about what you’re doing and your fingers must be disgusting. Do you know how many germs are on your fingers?”

Vinnie takes his forefinger and middle finger out of his nose. He holds them up so he can examine them. He says, “I don’t see any germs, Mom. My fingers look mostly clean.”

“What do you mean mostly clean?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“There’s one small bugger on my middle finger, Mom. Don’t worry, I’ll get rid of it,” says Vinnie wiping his hand on his pants.

“Vinnie’s mom reaches down, picks up a container of Lysol disinfectant wipes, pulls one out, and extends her arm back toward Vinnie. “Take this wipe, wipe your fingers and hands, and then wipe off your pants.”

“But, Mom, I didn’t see any germs.”

“You can’t see germs,” says Vinnie mom quickly realizing her poor choice of words. She corrects herself, “I mean, everyone knows germs are there even if you can’t see them.”

Vinnie’s dad’s cosmic antenna pick up an interesting vibe. He tunes in to the vibe.

“Are there germs on your nose, Mom?”

“Well, everyone has germs on their nose, Vinnie.”

“Are there germs on your lips, Mom?”

Vinnie’s dad glances over at Vinnie’s mom, “Will a lifeline cancel out my debt?”

“Yes, yes,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad says, “Vinnie, let’s play a road game. Any good ideas for a game.”

“I got a good one, Dad,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes, touches Vinnie’s dad’s arm, “Why? Is this the best you can do?”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Un huh.”

Vinnie Has The Happiest Day of His Life

16

“Are you happy, Dad? Are you happy, Mom? I am so happy. This is the best day of my life. I met a real cowboy. He gave me his bandana. I’m going to wear it every day of my life. You can never wash it, Mom,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad, nods his head. Vinnie’s mom says, “I’m happy we stopped. You met a real cowboy and you’ll always have his red bandana,” Vinnie’s Mom already processing how she is going to wash it without it appearing that she washed the bandana. She’s drawing a blank.

“He told me to visit him every time we come by, Mom. Can we come back this way. His ranch is the Circle C. When I grow up I want to be either a cowboy, a rock star, or veterinarian.”

Vinnie’s dad chimes in, “You’ll probably change your mind a lot as you grow up.”

Vinnie shakes his head, “I don’t think so, Dad. Sam can ride his horse all day long. He has dog, Cactus that goes with him. Dexter can go with me when I ride my horse. Once I get good at riding, I’m going to go in the rodeo.”

Vinnie’s mom catches Vinnie’s dad about to object. She touches Vinnie’s dad’s forearm. She says, “Vinnie what event do you want to do when you ride in rodeo?”

“I want to ride bulls, Mom. I bet Sam rides bulls. He can teach me all the tricks. And, I want to ride horse that bucks like crazy. Can we go to rodeo again this year? Can we? Can I bring home a fried turkey leg for Dexter and a fried Snicker’s bar for Rupert?”

Dexter barks at the sound of his name and the word turkey.

“Mom do you have a snack for Dexter? He’s starving. I think he’s getting sick. He’ll throw up all over the place. The car will stink. Please, Mom, please. Dexter needs food.”

Dexter barks in agreement. 

Vinnie’s dad can’t help himself, “Being a rodeo rider isn’t much of a career. You have to think of something else.”

Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes. 

“I’ll be happy, Dad. Don’t you want me to be happy?”

Vinnie’s mom fights to hold back a smile.

Vinnie’s dad says, “Of course I want you to be happy. You can be happy doing other things.”

“You don’t look happy when you go to work, Dad. You always look serious. Are you happy when you go to work?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad glances over at Vinnie’s mom seeking a sign she’ll help. Vinnie’s mom zips her lips and smiles.

Vinnie’s dad says, “Do you think that being happy is what work is about?”

“Uh huh,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad starts to speak. Vinnie interrupts, “Look Dad, Look. Can we go. You can do it, Dad. I bet anything you can do it.”

“Do what. Vinnie?” asks Vinnie’s Dad.

“Look at the sign ahead of us, Dad. The big sign with the cowboy and the big stead. You can do it, Dad. It’s The Big Texan Steak House. It says if you eat a 72 ounce steak and all the fixings in one setting it’s free. You can do it, Dad. I know you can do it. Can we go, Dad?”

“That’s six pounds of meat, Vinnie. I’m not counting the other food they give you. It’s not healthy. Right, Dear,” says Vinnie’s dad trying to wiggle free.

Vinnie’s mom enjoys the reality show taking place in their SUV. She says, “Oh, I think you should try. I think you can do it.”

Vinnie jumps in, “Dad, Dad you’ll save money even if you don’t make it. You won’t be able to eat until we get home. I had a great idea, right, Dad? Dad, it’s only 32 miles ahead. We’re going to go right by it. I bet Sam can finish it. He’s a real cowboy.He’s big, Dad.”

“Please help me, I’m drowning,” says Vinnie’s dad to Vinnie’s mom.

“I don’t see any water, Dad. You know how to swim. How can you be drowning? How, Dad?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom reaches into a large book back by her feet, and pulls out a package. She turns toward Vinnie, “Vinnie, I want to surprise you and Dexter. I brought a special treat for Dexter. Real turkey jerky.”

Dexter barks and rises to his haunches. His eyes fixed on whatever is in the plastic casing being held by Vinnie’s mom. Dexter thinking it’s cuisine specifically prepared for a beagle palette. 

“Wow. Thanks, Mom. You’re the best Mom. I wish Dad took after you,” says Vinnie reaching for the turkey jerky.

“I wish he did too, Vinnie.”

“I owe you,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“I’ll add it to your tab,” laughs Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie Asks The Stranger, “Are You a Cowboy?”

15

The SUV cruises along Interstate 27 at 75 miles per hour heading toward Amarillo.

The storm siren warning of a tornado goes off in the backseat in the guise of Vinnie’s frantic demand, “Dad, Dad, it’s four miles. We’re going to miss Happy, Dad. It’s our only chance to be happy, Dad. Don’t you want to be happy, Dad?”

Vinnie’s mom glances over at Vinnie’s dad content to let him handle the crises.

Vinnie’s dad takes a deep breath trying to remember how to do Zen breathing. Was it count to five on breathing in or eight or six and should he breath out through his nose or mouth or maybe it doesn’t matter as long as he’s breathing. The thoughts ramble through his mind at the same speed the SUV travels.

“Dad, Dad, it’s two miles now, slow down, you’re going to fast. I want to be happy, Dad. Dexter wants to be happy, Dad. Rupert wants to be happy, Dad. Even Mom wants to be happy. Everybody but you, Dad, wants to be happy. I can see the exit. Do you need help with the turn signal? Rupert will help, Dad. He has a driver’s license.”

“I am happy, Vinnie. I am very happy. I don’t need to go to Happy, Texas, to be happy. I don’t think everyone in Happy, Texas, is happy. We are not going to stop until we get to Amarillo,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Mom, Mom, Mom, I’m not happy if we don’t go to Happy. Why can’t we go to Happy, Mom? It will be my science project. You want me to get a good grade, right, Mom?”

Vinnie’s Mom says, “Do you want to listen to this or multiple variations of this all the way to Amarillo, another hour and a half, or do you want to end it by turning off driving to the center and turning around and getting back on the highway. It’s fifteen minutes versus ninety minutes. Your choice, Dear. A possible one hour and forty-five minutes of peace or relentless questioning why you didn’t want to stop at Happy.”

Vinnie’s dad touches the turn signal and begins to slow down. 

“Wise decision, Dear,” says Vinnie’s mom.

The SUV turns left off the exit ramp, crosses over the Interstate heading toward Happy, Texas. 

“Dad, Dad, Dad, look there’s the sign. Wow, wow, wow, Dad. It’s says, Welcome to Happy, Texas. The town without a frown. It even has a cowboy riding a horse like he’s at the rodeo, Dad. If they have a rodeo, can we go? I think I want to be cowboy when I grow up. Can we get a horse when we get back home? Can we, Dad?”

“Our yard isn’t big enough to have a horse, Vinnie. Where would we keep a horse?”

“That’s easy, Dad. You and Mom can park in the driveway and the horse can sleep in the garage. Rupert and me can ride him to school. I’ll be the coolest kid at school. Nobody else rides a horse to school. Maybe we can find a saddle on the trip, Dad. Dad look at Mom, she’s happy. Mom always laughs when she’s happy. Are you happy, Mom?”

Vinnie’s mom turns a bit and wipes tears away from her eyes. She says, “I’ve never been happier Vinnie. Honestly, it’s the happiest I’ve been in weeks.”

“See, Dad. See. Can we move here, Dad. There’s a house for sale, Dad. It has a horse in the yard. This is the best town in the whole country, Dad. Dad, there’s a Dairy Queen. Can I have an ice cream? Can we get one for Dexter. He’s starving.”

Dexter hears his name, sits up, looks to the left and then to the right and then up at Vinnie. He doesn’t see food, but he heard his name. Dexter forces himself to stay awake. His beagle instincts tell him he’s going to be fed soon.

Vinnie’s dad turns into the Dairy Queen on the belief that Vinnie can’t talk and eat at the same time. 

The family walks into the Dairy Queen. Dexter, overflowing with optimism, is sitting in the driver’s seat staring out the front window waiting for his family to return and bring him food. Vinnie’s mom and dad go to the counter to order, Vinnie spots an older man ruddy faced man wearing a white cowboy hat and red bandana around his neck drinking a cup of coffee.

Vinnie walks over to the man, “How come you’re sitting alone? Do you want company? Are you a cowboy?”

The man tips his cowboy hat back, turns his head  and checks out Vinnie. He smiles and says, “Pull up a seat, son. I can use some company. I live alone, except for my dog, Cactus and my horse, Brother Joe. I think you can call me a cowboy since I have a ranch and a hundred head of cattle. How about you? Where are your parents? Do you live around here? I haven’t see you before.”

Vinnie points toward the counter, “There’s my mom and dad. We’re on a trip. We live in San Antonio. I have a dog too, his name is Dexter and he’s a beagle. My parents think Dexter is overweight, but I think he’s all muscle. What kind of dog is Cactus?”

“Hah, Cactus is a mutt. He’s part of everything. He showed up one day and forgot to leave. Probably because I feed him.”

“That’s just like Dexter. I’m always sneaking food for Dexter when my parents can’t see me. Dexter knows I’m his best friend. Fist bump?”

The cowboy and Vinnie fist bump.

Vinnie sticks out his hand and says, “Here come my parents. Thanks for talking to me. Will you shake with me?”

“Of course, pardner.”

The Cowboy takes off the bandana around his neck and says, “I’m as happy as a man can be. I’ve want you have this cowboy bandana to remember the day we met. My name is Sam. What’s yours?”

“Vinnie. Thank you, Sam. I mean, sir. I told my mom and dad if we stopped in Happy we’d be happy. You made today the happiest day ever for me.”

“I’ve got to head back to the ranch, Vinnie. Anytime you come through Happy stop by and see me. My ranch is only ten miles up the road, you can’t miss it, it’s the Circle S. Adios,” said Sam rising from his chair and tipping his hat toward Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s mom smiles and waves. 

“How does Vinnie do it, Dear? asks Vinnie’s Dad. 

“Somethings are a mystery, Dear, and cannot be explained,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie Returns Tomorrow

Vinnie makes a new friend. Vinnie’s Dad doesn’t understand Vinnie. Vinnie’s mom thinks the way Vinnie’s mind works is a mystery. LOL

Vinnie Returns Monday – Will His Parents Survive? LOL

Vinnie insists his dad stop in Happy, Texas, to discover how to be happy. Will they stop? LOL

Vinnie Begs His Dad to Take the Next Exit

14

Vinnie and his Mom and Dad are on the highway heading north toward Amarillo. Rupert sits on the seat across the aisle from Vinnie. Rupert wears his eternal smile. Vinnie calls to his mom, “Mom. Mom. Mom.”

Vinnie’s mom, grateful for fifteen minutes of relative quiet says, “Yes, Vinnie?”

“I made a discovery,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom is thinking, ‘I can’t wait to hear this one.’ Instead, she says, “What is it?”

“Did you know grizzly bears can’t blink?”

Vinnie’s dad cocks an ear toward the back seat, “Is that so? Where did you pick up that information?”

Vinnie’s mom already knows the answer, but tries to follow good parenting protocol, says, “That’s interesting.”

Vinnie unbuckles and grabs hold of Rupert.

“Vincent, get buckled. Everyone in the van is supposed to be buckled. It’s the law,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Thanks, Mom. I’ll put a note in my journal.”

“Journal? You’re writing a journal?”

“Yes, Mom. I’ll read it to you after I tell you and Dad how I discovered grizzly bears can’t blink. Dad. Dad. Dad, look. Quick.”

Vinnie’s dad’s heart rate increase by twenty points in four point two-seconds. “What is it? What’s happening? What am I supposed to see?” 

Vinnie’s mom is trying to keep track of the different conversations Vinnie initiated. She thinks, he’s telling us about his discovery. He’s going to read his journal to us. I don’t think this is a good idea. Maybe I need a different support group. And, now he’s excited about something and making it seem like an emergency.”

Vinnie gestures toward the front window, “There, Dad. There.”

“What, Vinnie? I don’t see anything,” says Vinnie’s dad looking for a deer or an antelope running across the highway, a state trooper with a radar gun, or a longhorn steer that broke loose from the herd and is standing in the middle of the highway.

“There, Dad. Can we go? Can we go there, Dad?”

“Where, Vinnie?”

“The sign says the town at the next exit is called Happy. Did you know there is a town called Happy, Texas? Did you, Dad? Did I teach you something, Dad? Did I, Dad?”

Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes, she looks ahead at the sign and remembers begging Vinnie’s dad to fly to anyplace instead of driving to the Grand Canyon. A vacation should be relaxing. Who wrote those words of wisdom didn’t raise an eight year old child and decide to go a long road trip because it will be relaxing, she thinks. 

Vinnie’s Dad passes the sign, “Happy is eight miles ahead. Sorry, Vinnie, we stopped a half hour ago. We’ll stop in Amarillo and have lunch.”

Dexter suddenly wakes up, and barks.

“We have to stop, Dad. Mrs. Navis told us after spring break we have to have an idea for a science project. I’ve got the perfect idea. Please, Dad, can we stop. Can we, Dad?”

Vinnie’s mom relies on experience to know where the conversation is going. She knows Vinnie’s dad doesn’t have a clue. She decides to toss Vinnie’s dad a lifeline. She says, “Vinnie, what’s your idea for your science project? I can’t wait to hear about it.”

Vinnie says, “Mom. Mom. This idea is so great I know I will win the science fair in May.”

Vinnie’s mom’s instincts go on high alert, “Tell us your idea, Vinnie.”

Vinnie says, “I want to discover what makes all the people in Happy, Texas, happy. It’s sure winner, right, Mom?”

Vinnie’s dad says, “I don’t think everyone is happy in Happy, Texas, Vinnie.”

Vinnie’s mom knows this is not the right response to Vinnie. She holds her lips closed with her thumb and forefinger of her right hand.

Vinnie says, “They have to be happy to live in Happy, Dad. Can we move to Happy, Dad? I think all the teachers are nice and the school lunch has pizza every day.”

Vinnie’s mom half twists in her seat enjoying the pursed lips and scrunched eyebrows on Vinnie’s dad. 

“Dad, Dad, Dad, it’s in six miles, we’ll be there before we know it. Put your signal on, hurry, Dad, hurry.” 

Vinnie’s dad twists his head slightly toward Vinnie’s mom, “Help me, Dear. Please?”

“You’re flying solo, Dear, and I’m enjoying every minute.”