Vinnie Wins

“Ray, Ray, Ray! I have a great idea,” shouts Vinnie.

I look up from my laptop and say, “Why do you have to say my name three times?”

“Because I don’t want you to forget it,” says Vinnie. Dexter said it was a good idea.

“Dexters a beagle. He can’t talk,” I tell Vinnie.

“He can, Ray. He told me if you don’t bring me back, I can get him the leftover piece of pizza you saved for lunch.”

“Okay, you can return in 10 days, give me a break, Vinnie.”

“Can I come back, sooner, Ray? Ten days is like next year. Please, Ray. I’m being polite, Ray. Does that count? says Vinnie.

I’ve got to bring Vinnie back. It’s the only way he’ll give me peace. I think I’ll say a prayer for his mom and dad. LOL.

Vinnie’s Mom Understands Guy Stuff All Too Well


Later that night, on the second floor of a motel that accepts anyone with a valid credit card or cash, in a room sandwiched between the ice machine and elevator, Vinnie’s mom stares out the window looking for the promised spectacular view of the San Francisco Peaks.

“I don’t see the mountains? All I see are railroad tracks and railroad cars. Didn’t the desk clerk promise us a view of the mountains?” asks Vinnie’s mom. 

Vinnie’s dad is lying on the bed, propped against a pillow surfing the channels on the TV. He says, “You say something, Dear? Someone must be filling their cooler from the ice machine. It’s making a racket.”

“Is this the best available room?”

“It was the one with the view,” says Vinnie’s dad. “I thought it would make you happy.”

“I’m looking into a freight yard. Is this what you call a view?”

“It’s the best they had. It took a lot of negotiating to get the view,” answers Vinnie’s dad.

“What was the other alternative?”

“A room with a single queen bed and window airconditioner.” 

What is that smell? I feel like gagging,” says Vinnie’s mom stepping back from the window, placing her hand over his face, and sitting on the edge of Vinnie’s bed. 

Vinnie, Rupert, and Dexter get off the bed and go to the window. Vinnie looks out the window. Dexter sniffs for food. Vinnie says, “Yuck, I smell it too, Mom. I know what it is.”

“What is it, Vinnie?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“There’s a truck filled with hogs parked under our window. Can I go down and pat them? Please, Mom. I never patted a hog before,” says Vinnie.

“No, Vincent, you cannot pat the hogs.”

“Can Dexter and me go to the lobby? They have snack machines down there. Can I have five dollars? I can look for souvenirs to remember our trip, ” says Vinnie.

“No, Vincent, you cannot go the lobby. You’re tired. Try to go to sleep,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“I’m not tired, Mom. I had so much fun today. It was the best day ever,” says Vinnie.

“Did you ride in the same SUV as me?” asks Vinnie’s mom half seriously.

“I did, Mom. You were sitting in front of Rupert most of the time. The only time you weren’t sitting in front of Rupert was when Rupert was on my lap. Then Dad was sitting in front of Rupert. I think Dexter has to go the bathroom, Mom,” says Vinnie.

“You’re just saying that, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“No, Mom. Honest. He’s sniffing around your running shoes,” says Vinnie.

“Dear, take Vinnie and Dexter, now. He better not do anything on my shoes. Take your time. I’m going to try to take a shower if they have any hot water,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“This is great, Dad. If I take Rupert, it will be all the boys. We can talk about guy stuff that Mom will never understand,” says Vinnie.

From the bathroom, “I understand guy stuff all too well,” says Vinnie’s mom.


Vinnie’s Mom Has A Splitting Headache


Vinnie, Rupert, Vinnie’s mom, and Vinnie’s dad sit in a booth in La Grande Taco restaurant. A large bowl of chips is in the middle of the table and two smaller bowls of salsa sit on either side of the chips. Vinnie’s dad and mom sip iced tea. Vinnie is feeding Rupert a chip.

Vinnie’s mom says, “Vincent, we’re all tired after a long day. You know Rupert can’t eat. Don’t play with the food. You’re making a mess. Look at his mouth and the crumbs on the table.”

Vinnie looks over at his mom, “He can too eat, Mom. He eats all the time. You want to know his favorite foods?”

“No. Dear, where is the waiter? I need some water, I have a splitting headache.”

Vinnie’s dad, attempting to show his compassionate side, touches Vinnie’s mom forearm, “Do you know what caused your headache? We had a great day.”

Vinnie stops feeding Rupert and watches his Mom and Dad. 

Vinnie’s mom turns her head slightly toward Vinnie’s dad and says, “Let me list the reasons.”

Vinnie’s dad wisely removes his hand from Vinnie’s mom’s forearm. His right leg begins bouncing at a 140 beats per minute, the equivalent of a fast rap song.

Vinnie’s mom says, “We’ve been driving for three days.”

Vinnie says, “Check.”

“We’ve been tossed out of two different motels.”

“Check, check,” Rupert answers.

Vinnie’s dad doesn’t dare give Vinnie a look.

“Our reservation at the Grand Canyon was cancelled because we didn’t show up yesterday.”

Vinnie says, “Check.”

“We’ve been stopped by the police.”


“Please stop saying check, Vinnie,” Vinnie’s dad momentarily looses control.

“It’s okay, Vincent, keep score,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Rupert’s on it, Mom.”

“We only have three days left of our week vacation and have to be home so Vinnie can go to school. If we turn around tomorrow, we might make it in time,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Check,” says Vinnie. He adds, “Mrs. Navis won’t miss me, Mom.”

Vinnie’s mom knows Vinnie is telling the truth, but decides not to say anything. She says, “And, this is your idea of a great restaurant? We’re the only people in here and we haven’t been waited on.”

“Checkmate,” says Vinnie.

“It had a good rating on Yelp,” says Vinnie’s dad apologetically. 

Vinnie begins scrolling on his tablet. He says, “Dad, is one star the best or the worst on Yelp?”

Vinnie’s dad looks around, “Your blood sugar is low, Dear. Eat a few chips. They’re very good,” says Vinnie’s dad dabbing a chip in the salsa. “And, the salsa has a kick to it.”

The guy waiter stands at the table, “All set to order?”

“I’ll have five chicken tacos with extra cheese on the tacos,” says Vinnie.

“You can’t eat five tacos, Vinnie. He’ll have two tacos, and no extra cheese,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad mouths the word, ‘Dexter’ to Vinnie’s mom.

Before Vinnie’s mom responds, “Vinnie says, “I want to change my order. Can I have a full order of chicken fajitas? If there are leftovers, can we get a carryout box?”

“What else?” asks the waiter looking at his girlfriend and winking.

Vinnie’s dad says, “I’ll have the Muy Grande Pollo Burrito with a side of rice and beans.”

“Man, that’s a lot of food,” says the waiter blowing his girlfriend a kiss. “And, for you señora?” 

“Do you have vegetarian dishes?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Hey, Tony, do we have have vegetarian food?” hollers the waiter toward the kitchen.

“We got beans and rice,” a voice hollers back.

“Was that Tony?” asks Vinnie.

The waiter looks at Vinnie, smiles and says, “It was either Tony or Tony junior. They both sound the same.”

“Can I have your autograph?” asks Vinnie pushing a paper napkin toward the waiter along with a pen.

“Sure.” The waiter signs the napkin and pushes it back toward Vinnie.

Vinnie looks at it, “Thanks, Tony.”

“No problem, kid.”

Vinnie’s Mom Is Worn Out


Vinnie, Rupert, and Vinnie’s Mom follow Vinnie’s dad in the motel lobby. Dexter sits on the front passenger seat following his family into the motel. Vinnie’s dad and mom walk over to the counter. Vinnie carries Rupert and walks over to tray of courtesy cookies, apples, and bananas. 

“Can I help you?” asks the desk clerk.

Vinnie hollers, “Do you have any more cookies?”

The clerk glances over at Vinnie, then back to Vinnie’s parents. Vinnie’s mom says, “Vinnie thinks you were speaking to him. It’d be a big help if you had a few more cookies, believe me.”

“Rupert is starving,” hollers Vinnie.

“I thought his name was Vinnie? Does he talk in third person?” asks the clerk.

“Rupert is his stuffed grizzly bear,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“How could he be starving, Sir?” asks the desk clerk.

“Please get the cookies,” says Vinnie’s mom, her words walking the tightrope between normal conversation and begging.

Vinnie hollers in his falsetto voice, “Feed me. Feed me. I’m dying. I can’t last much longer.”

“Who is that?” says the desk clerk.

“That’s Rupert,” says Vinnie’s mom. “He won’t stop. I know. I’m his mother. It’s only going to get worse. Please get the cookies.”

Vinnie’s dad says to Vinnie’s mom, “I can handle this, why don’t you go with Vinnie?”

“I don’t have the energy. He wore me out on the drive. I’ll handle this, why don’t you go with Vinnie?” says Vinnie’s mom.

The desk clerk follows the conversation as if she were at a tennis match. “I’d get the cookies but there is no one to cover the front desk. I’ll get fired if my boss finds out.”

“Mom, Mom, Mom, I’m giving Rupert CPR. The only thing that will save him are more cookies. I can hardly feel a pulse beat. Mom, Mom, call 9 – 1 – 1. Hang in there, Buddy. The cops will arrest the desk clerk when they get here.”

Vinnie’s mom looks at the desk clerk, “He’s exaggerating about the police.”

“No I’m not, Mom. I have your phone. See?” says Vinnie holding up his mom’s iPhone.

The desk clerk glances at Vinnie’s dad credit card, types something into the computer. She shakes her head, hits a few more keys, shakes her head. Vinnie’s mom says, “Is something wrong?”

“We don’t have a reservation for you.”

“Where are the cookies? I’ll get them. Rupert is desperate. Do you have any dog treats?”

“Are you sure?”

“Oh, yes, ma’am. I’m sure,” says the desk clerk.

“Can I see your screen?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“It’s against policy, ma’am.” 

“Dear, did you make reservations at this motel?”

Vinnie’s dad pulls out his iPhone. He opens his email app. Scrolls through his emails. “Here it is. He turns the reservation around and shows the desk clerk.”

“Sir, that motel is in Williams, Arizona. It’s thirty miles west of here.”

“Do you have any available rooms?” pleads Vinnie’s Mom.

“No, ma’am.”

“You didn’t look.”

“We want cookies. We want cookies. We want cookies,” Vinnie chants.

“I’m really sure, Ma’am,” says the clerk.

Vinnie Embarrasses His Dad


“Ninety-one splashes of poop on the wall, ninety-one bottles of poop. You take one down and pass it around, their are ninety splashes of poop on wall.”

“Vincent, stop singing that song. It is disgusting,” says Vinnie’s mom. Vinnie’s mom starts rubbing her temples.

“Which part, Mom?” asks Vinnie.

“How much further to Flagstaff, Dear?” asks Vinnie’s mom. “I feel like we’ve been riding for twenty hours straight without a stop. How long has it been since our last stop?”

“Thirty minutes. Here’s something to brighten your spirits. It’s only sixty miles to Flagstaff. You can see the mountains in the distance. The highest mountains still have snow on their peaks. We should make it there by five,” says Vinnie’s dad. Before Vinnie’s mom responds, he says, “Vinnie, what has been your favorite part of the trip so far?”

Vinnie’s mom bows her head and puts her hand over her eyes. Vinnie’s dad glances over and sees Vinnie’s mom’s lips moving. “What are you saying, Dear?”

“A Hail Mary.”

Vinnie says, “I’ve got lots of favorite things so far, Dad. I’m making my top ten list. When I’m through making my list, want me to read it to you and Mom? If you like it, I’ll ask Mrs. Navis if I can read it in front of the class when I go back to school.”

Vinnie’s mom twists a bit toward Vinnie’s dad, “I am not going to get you out of this one. Your on your own.”

“What do you mean, Dear? What harm can come from Vinnie making a list of his favorite things so far on the trip?

“Have you been listening at all for the past seven hundred miles? Hello, Earth to the International Space Station, please come in,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad says, “This is a difference between you and me.”

“Oh?” says Vinnie’s mom. “I want hear it.”

Vinnie’s dad avoids eye contact and pretends he’s concentrating on driving. He says, “I look at the bright side of everything. I can find good in almost any circumstance. It’s one of the things noted on my annual evaluation. You should try it.” A pause. the front seat quickly fills with the chill of an early winter. Vinnie’s dad attempts to turn on the emotional defroster, “I didn’t mean it the way it sounded.”

Vinnie’s mom stares straight ahead, her arms folded across her chest.

The tension breaks when Vinnie says, “I’ve finished. It was hard because I had to leave off some of the best things that happened so far.”

Vinnie’s mom looking for an opening says, “What is one best thing you left off your top ten list, Vinnie?”

“That’s an easy one, Mom. It almost made the top ten. The top ten were the best ever.”

“Well?” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Yes, Vinnie. Tells us the top best thing you left off your best things list,” says Vinnie’s day making a failed attempt to charm Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie opens his notebook. He says, “Rupert will read it. He is a very good reader. I don’t think many grizzly bears can read as good as Rupert.” 

Vinnie places Rupert on his lap and holds his notebook in front of Rupert. He uses his falsetto voice as Rupert’s voice, “The best thing that happened that wasn’t on the list happened when we stopped in Gallup. When Dad came out of the men’s room, his zipper was down. Some kids were pointing and laughing at Dad and he didn’t know it.” Vinnie now speaking in his voice, “Dad, is your zipper still down?”

Vinnie’s mom says, “We haven’t started the top ten list, Dear. I want to hear your positive spin on this one. Please two hands on the wheel, you can zip your pants when we reach Flagstaff.”


Vinnie Wants to Know Who Painted the Painted Desert


“Why, Mom?”


“Because why, Mom?”

“Because I said so.”

“I don’t understand.”

“What don’t you understand?”

“Why I can’t turn my story into Mrs. Navis for my vacation project.”

“Because I don’t want to be embarrassed.”

“You didn’t listen to the story, Mom. It really is good.”

Vinnie’s mom glances at Vinnie’s dad, “You can join in the conversation any time you want to join in.”

“You’re doing just fine, Dear.”

“Mom? Mom? Mom?”

“What, Vincent?”

“You look stressed. I packed Snickers, Twix, Three Musketeers, and six packages of bubblegum. Do you want anything? I think chocolate will make you feel better.”

“Where did you get all that? I didn’t buy it?”

“Remember the night before we left on the trip?”

“What about it, Vincent?”

“Gramma and Grampa came over to say goodbye.”

“I remember.”

“Gramma is the nicest. She gave me a bag of candy. She called it ‘goodies.’ She said to share it with everyone, but not to tell you until we were far away from home. Are we far enough away from to tell you, Mom?”

“It’s your Mom, Dear,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Don’t go there,” responds Vinnie’s mom.

“Where? There’s the exit for the Painted Desert. Can we go, can we?”

Vinnie’s dad says, “This is our third day on the road. We should have been in Flagstaff yesterday. I was lucky to keep our rooms at the Grand Canyon. We’ll have to pass on the Painted Desert this time.”

“Who painted it, Dad?”

“It was the way it was formed millions of years ago. The desert is composed of stratified layers of easily erodible siltstone, mudstone, and shale,” Vinnie’s dad smiles at Vinnie’s mom expressing his pride how he described the geology of the Painted Desert.

Vinnie’s mom says, “You learn that on Google last night?”

“No, early this morning when I was looking for places to stop for lunch,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Do they have pizza places at the Grand Canyon, Dad?”

“No, it is a national park. We’ll hike and maybe we’ll see bears or wolves or even mountain lions. We might get to ride a donkey down the canyon trails to the Colorado River.”

“What are we going to eat, Dad? Dexter will starve to death without food. You don’t want Dexter to starve to death, do you, Dad?”

Vinnie’s dad glances over at Vinnie’s mom, “I could use a little help.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “You’re doing just fine, Dear.”

“I didn’t think about food. I thought you were going to think about food,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“I thought I was supposed to think about packing and organizing. I thought you were going to think about the food and lodging,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie interrupts his parents, “You should have asked Dexter, Dad. Dexter is always thinking about food.”

Vinnie’s mom turns her head toward Vinnie, “I’ll take two candy bars, it doesn’t matter what kind.”

“Can I have one?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“Too late, Dad. I only have two left and Mom called them. I ate the rest.”


Vinnie’s Mom Can Use A Little Help


Vinnie, his mom and dad, Rupert, and Dexter are in room 301. Vinnie’s mom is laying out clothes for tomorrow’s trip. Vinnie’s dad sits on the end of Vinnie’s bed and is surfing the TV channels. Vinnie is using his bed as a trampoline. Dexter is lying on the floor next to Vinnie’s bed hoping food crumbs spill out of Vinnie’s pockets. Rupert gets tossed in the air at the height of Vinnie’s bounce of the bed. He rises until his head hits the ceiling and he tumbles back landing in Vinnie’s hands as Vinnie is landing on the bed.

“I could use some help, Dear,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Vinnie’s dad says, “They have free HBO and  Showtime.”

“You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?” says Vinnie’s mom staring at Vinnie’s dad, her arms akimbo.

“Mom, where’s my bathing suit? I don’t mind swimming in these clothes, they’re all dirty from Dexter trying to get food out of my pockets.”

Vinnie’s mom follows Vinnie up and down, up and down. “Will you stop bouncing. It’s making me dizzy,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Try bouncing with me, Mom. I’m not dizzy,” says Vinnie tossing Rupert toward the pillows. Vinnie now trying to touch the ceiling with his outstretched arms.

Vinnie’s mom walks to the TV and stands in front of it, “Can I get some help?”

“Gee, Dear, why didn’t you say something. What can I do,” says Vinnie’s dad.

Vinnie’s mom says, “Take Vinnie to the pool for thirty minutes. I want time to refreshen before we go out to eat. Vinnie’s a good swimmer, but keep an eye on him.”

Vinnie hollers from the apex of his jump, “Dad, no peeing in the pool.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “I don’t pee in the pool.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “That’s gross.”

Vinnie says, “Joey pees in the pool and so does his dad.”

“Who told you that?” asks Vinnie’s mom.


“No more swimming in their pool.”

“Why, Mom. They use lots of chorine,” says Vinnie.

“If you want to swim, stop jumping and change into your bathing trunks,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Mom, can Dexter go swimming with us. He can do the doggie paddle.”

“No, Dexter will stay in the room with me and Rupert,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Rupert can’t go? Why, Mom? Rupert’s certified as a lifeguard,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom thinks in two more years I’ll be certified as crazy unless things change.

Dexter will howl, Mom. He doesn’t like strange places. He’ll miss me,” says Vinnie.

“Dexter will be with me as he is every day when you are at school.”

Vinnie stops jumping on the bed. He hops down to the floor and grabs Dexter around the neck and hugs him. “I’m going swimming, Buddy. I’ll miss you. You can play with Rupert until I get back.”

Vinnie stands up, “Mom, did you bring my snorkel and flippers?”

Vinnie’s mom glances over at Vinnie’s dad who’s watching the food channel.  She mumbles a silent prayer, “Dear Mother of God, I need a little help. I’m with two males who don’t have a clue. Know what I mean?”

Vinnie’s Mom says, “Is There No Bottom?”


Five hours and six stops later, the SUV pulls into a motel parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Vinnie’s dad walks out of the lobby toward the SUV, beaming, holding two room pass keys in his hand and a map showing the room’s location.

Vinnie’s dad opens the driver’s side door and slides into his seat. “They take dogs and grizzly bears.” Vinnie’s dad thinks he made a cool joke. 

Vinnie’s mom disagrees. She says, “Are you sure you couldn’t get closer to the airport? Oh my God, the plane is going to land on us.”

Vinnie hollers, “Wow. Was that cool. I could see the wheels. I could read everything on the plane. I could see the pilot’s face. I changed my mind, I don’t want to be a cowboy, I want to be pilot. Rupert can be my copilot. And, Dexter can bark and warn me if planes get too close. Here comes another one. I think it’s a military jet.”

“My ear drums. I think they’re perforated,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad attempts a good spin, “The desk clerk said not to worry about the planes, they stop landing at midnight and don’t start again until five in the morning.”

“You’re kidding, right?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie interrupts, “Why don’t the fly all night, Dad? This is the best part of the trip so far. I can smell the jet fuel.”

Vinnie’s dad reaches into his pants pocket. “Here’s some good news and it shows we’re staying at a classy place. They gave us three sets of earplugs.”

“What is your definition of classy, Dear? The first thing I’m checking for is bed bugs. The second thing I’m checking is to see if the sheets are clean. The third thing I’m checking is to see if there are locks on the windows,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“You forgot the fourth and fifth things, Mom,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom turns toward Vinnie, “What are the fourth and fifth things, Vinnie?”

“You need to check to see if the cable TV is working and if you can get delivery pizza,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom puts her right hand on her forehead and gently rubs it. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. When she opens her eyes, she says, “Where did we take a wrong turn?”

Vinnie’s dad unsure of what response he’s to make, says, “Do you want me to answer or is this a rhetorical question?”

From the backseat, “I know, Mom.”

Vinnie’s mom glances at Vinnie, “You know what?”

“I know where Dad made a wrong turn? Rupert tried to tell him, but Dad wouldn’t listen.”

“Oh? Tell me where Dad made a wrong turn.”

Vinnie’s dad is now thinking it would have been better to drive through the night across the New Mexican and Arizona deserts to Flagstaff, Arizona, where there are no major airports.

“It was way back in Texas, Mom. There was a sign that said 60 miles to the Palo Duro State Park. The sign said it was like the Grand Canyon. We’d already be there, Mom. Why do we have to go to the Grand Canyon when Texas already has one, Mom? Why doesn’t Dad listen to Rupert, Mom?”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Let’s get to our room, then we’ll go out and find a nice restaurant and have a relaxing dinner.”

“Dad? Dad? Dad?”

“Yes, Vinnie?” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Can I have all the earplugs? I’ll have a set. Rupert will have a set and Dexter will have a set. Thanks for getting them for us, Dad. Make sure we go to a restaurant that allows dogs and grizzly bears to come in. After we eat can we go to the pool?”

Vinnie’s mom says to Vinnie’s dad, “Is there no bottom?”