Vinnie Thinks His Dad Is Afraid of Sister Janet

8

“How did everything go at rehearsal, Vinnie?” asks his dad. “Well? You seem pretty quiet. What happened? You don’t look happy? Why the frown. Don’t tell me you are going to be the sheep again?” 

“Dad, I didn’t think it could get worse and it got worse,” says Vinnie shrugging his shoulders.

“What could be worse than being a sheep?” asks his dad.

“Dad?”

“What, Vinnie?”

“Can I say a word you might not want me to say? I don’t want to get in trouble with Santa and you, Dad.”

Vinnie’s dad glances over at Vinnie, “Is it a curse word, Vinnie?”

“I don’t think so, but I think Mom might not like it if I went around saying it,” says Vinnie.

“You can tell me,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Promise not to tell Mom?” asks Vinnie.

“Promise,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“I’m going to be a jackass,” says Vinnie and he starts laughing.

“A jackass? What do you mean, Vinnie?” asks his dad.

“Oh, Dad. I’m going to be the donkey. I have to lie on straw at the foot of the manger. How dumb is that?”

“That’s pretty dumb, Vinnie. I have to agree with you.”

“Will you tell Mom I don’t have to be in living nativity?” asks Vinnie

Vinnie’s dad pretends he’s concentrating on driving but he’s thinking about what he wants to say to Vinnie.

Vinnie interrupts his dad’s thoughts, “Dad you don’t have ask, Mom.”

“Thanks, Vinnie. Mom’s heart is set on you being in the Nativity. It’s only one night. I know it’s a lousy role, but suck it up. Santa will really appreciate it. I’ll email him and tell him you got stuck with a lousy role but you’re going to do it anyway.”

“Thanks, Dad. Dad?”

“What is it, Vinnie?”

“Will you also email Santa and tell him not to leave Sister Janet any presents. Put Mary Avery’s name on the list.”

“Why?”

“Because Sister Janet is mean. She’s meaner than the Murphy’s German Shepherd. And, Mary Avery stuck her tongue out at me. Besides, Sister Janet let Mary be Mary. If it were my choice, Mary would make a very good snake.”

“I don’t think there are snakes in a living nativity scene, Vinnie,” says his dad. 

“What about a cockroach?” suggests Vinnie.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cockroach in nativity scene,” says Vinnie’s dad wondering how long this will go on.

“I think I’ve seen a nightcrawler, Dad. I really think there was one at my feet when I was playing the sheep last year.”

“I remember that, Vinnie. Do you remember how that got you in trouble?” asks his Dad.

“Okay, so I dropped a gummy worm in front of Joanne.  She screamed. It was very funny.”

“Mary is not supposed to scream in the living nativity scene, Vinnie.”

“Oh.”

“Will you tell Sister Janet to change the roles? I want to play a wiseman because I am very smart.”

“No, I’m not going to tell Sister Janet anything,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Are you afraid of Sister Janet, Dad? I didn’t think you were afraid of anyone.”

“There’s Mom waiting for us?” says Vinnie’s dad trying to change the subject.

“Well, Dad?’

“Yes,” says his dad.

“Yes, what, Dad?” asks Vinnie.

“Yes, I’m afraid of Sister Janet.”

Vinnie’s dad pulls up to curb. His mom opens the passenger side door and slides in. She turns toward the backseat, “How did practice go today, Vinnie?”

Vinnie smiles, “It was great, Mom. I don’t have to be the sheep. I get to be the donkey and lie at the foot of the manager. I can’t wait for Wednesday night.”

“I am so proud of you, Vinnie,” says his Mom.

Vinnie’s dad looks in the rearview mirror and makes eye contact with Vinnie. He says, “Vinnie was so excited after practice. He told me he’s going to be the best donkey ever. Right, Vinnie?”

“I’m on it, Dad. I’m thinking how I can make my role come alive.”

Vinnie’s dad feels his stomach take a small backflip. 

Vinnie Gets on Sister Janet’s Nerves

7

Sister Janet scurries around the church office looking for notepaper, box, and pen. She takes a sheet of paper out of the printer tray and cuts it into ten squares. She sits at the secretary’s desk and prints each role on one of the ten squares. Mary, Joseph, donkey, sheep, cow, Angel 1, Angel 2, Wiseman 1, Wiseman 2, and Wiseman 3. Satisfied she all the roles, she folds each square in half. The secretary has a bowl half filled with red and white peppermint candies. Sister Janet empties it on the desk and puts the ten folded white squares in the bowl. 

Sister Janet walks into the gymnasium. She holds the bowl up to the children, “I’ve put the ten roles in here. Mary, you can draw the names out.”

Vinnie raises his hand, “Sister. Sister. Sister.”

“What is it, Vincent?” says Sister Janet.

“How come you always choose girls to do the cool part? That’s not fair. I thought you were going to get a box. How come you have bowl instead of a box? Is that the bowl that holds the peppermint candy on Mrs. O’Reilly’s desk? She’s going to be mad if you dumped out her candy.”

Sister Janet prays silently, ‘Dear God, don’t let Vincent get the sheep role. Last year he kept oinking as if he were a pig instead of a sheep.’ Sister Janet clears her mind and says, “Vincent, Mary will draw out the names fair and square. Come up here, Mary.”

Mary Avery turns toward Vinnie and sticks her tongue out. 

“Sister. Mary stuck her tongue out at me. I’m telling Santa,” hollers Vinnie.

Mary turns back toward Sister Janet and says, “No I didn’t. Sister. Vinnie is always making up mean stuff about me. Tell him not to tell Santa anything mean about me.”

Sister Janet says, “That’s enough. I’m sure Vincent will do the right thing because he knows God is watching him.”

“God loves me no matter what I do. That’s what you said in Sunday School, Sister. That’s true, right?” says Vinnie.

“Yes, God loves you no matter what you do, Vincent. But you are trying my patience. We only have an hour to practice and we’ve already wasted twenty minutes. When Mary draws a role, it will be played by the first person on the left. The first role will be Thomas’s.”

“Sister?” 

“Yes, Mary?” says Sister Janet.

“Can I choose the role I want because I’m the nicest one here today?”

“You are very nice, Mary, but the other children are nice too. You can have the first role you draw,” says Sister Janet.

“Sister, I thought that was my role,” says Thomas.

Sister Janet closes her eyes for a moment and prays, “Thank you God for calling me to be a nun. I couldn’t handle being a mother and having to put up with this stuff 24/7.”

“Thomas, you’ll get the next role,” says Sister Janet.

“See what I mean, Tommy? The girls all stick together. We don’t have a chance,” says Vinnie.

“Vincent!” says Sister Janet in a stern voice.

Vinnie makes a pretend motion of zipping his lips with the forefinger and thumb of his right hand.

Mary smiles at the role she pulls out of the bowl. “I get to play Mary. That’s the most important role.”

“No, it’s not, baby Jesus is the most important role,” calls Vinnie.

“But Mary is Jesus’ mother. That makes her the star,” retorts Mary.

“Enough, All the roles are important,” says Sister Janet. “Pull out the remaining roles, Mary.

“Okay, Sister. I hope Vinnie doesn’t get to play Joseph, because I couldn’t stand being married to him. If I pull out Vinnie’s name, can I put it back in and pull out another name?”

“Dear Lord, the cross you’ve given to me today is almost unbearable,” mumbles Sister Janet.

“I didn’t hear you, Sister,” says Vinnie.

“Pull out the roles, Mary,” says Sister Janet.

Mary reads the roles as she pulls out each slip of paper, “Sara plays Joseph, Mary’s husband and foster father of Jesus. Eileen plays one of the wisemen. Vinnie plays the donkey lying at the feet of the manger. Larry plays the sheep and Tommy plays the cow. Joey plays angel 1. Alice plays Angel 2. Lori is a wiseman and Nicole is a wiseman.”

Vinnie raises his hand, “Sister, Sister.”

“You’ll make a very nice donkey, Vincent. Can you hold your question, we only have fifteen minutes to show everyone where they stand?”

“It’s important, Sister,” says Vinnie.

“What is it, Vincent,” says Sister Janet hoping Vinnie is going to ask he can go to restroom.

“It’s not going to work. Everyone is going to laugh at us,” says Vinnie.

“No one is going to laugh at us, Vincent,” says Sister Janet.

“Yes they will, Sister. You can’t have a girl playing Joseph because Joseph was a man. And, it says wisemen, not wise women. So you can’t have girls playing the wisemen. Tommy and Larry nod their heads in agreement.

Sister Janet issues a silent prayer, “Dear Lord, forgive me. I have a strong desire to pick Vincent up and toss him through one of the basketball hoops.”