Vinnie Announces: “Class Can Start, I’m Here.”


Mrs. Navis stands by the doorway and greets each child with a smile and a good morning in a lyrical voice as the kids walk into her classroom. That is, every child but Vinnie. She says, “Vincent, I do not want to hear about artificial insemination. It’s not appropriate for a science project. Now, find your desk and get ready for class.”

Vinnie doesn’t move. He stands in front of Mrs. Navis and stares at her for a moment. Then he says, “Why, Mrs. Navis? Joey said I could use his cat in the project.”

“Vincent, no means no.”

“Okay, Mrs. Navis. I have another idea. I want to test to see what helps make the longest burps, diet soda or regular soda. Can I do that, Mrs. Navis? Can I?”

Mrs. Navis places a hand on Vinnie’s left shoulder, “Vincent, where do you come up with these ideas? Who is helping you? Is it your mother? I’m sure it is. Tell me.”

Vinnie turns his head and looks at Mrs. Navis’ hand on his shoulder. She remover her hand. Vinnie says, “Oh no, Mrs. Navis. I don’t talk about my science fair project with my mom or dad. I want to surprise them. I have a great science mind who talks to me about them. He’s my friend.”

“And, who is this great science mind? Is it Joey? Tommy? Larry?”

“No, Mrs. Navis. It’s Rupert.”

“Rupert? Is Rupert a university professor?”

“He’s like Einstein, Mrs. Navis. Oh, there’s the bell. Maybe Rupert can come in and teach class someday. I’ll ask him if he can do it?”

“Vincent, in your seat.”

Vinnie walks to the center of the room. All the other students are at their desks. Vinnie stops in front of Mrs. Navis desk and announces, “Class can begin, I’m here.” Vinnie starts laughing and the class joins in until. …

“Children, children, that is enough. Vincent, sit down.” 

Mrs. Navis waits for Vinnie to sit then says, “After the pledge of allegiance to the flag and the announcements you will take turns standing in front of class and telling everyone about your spring break. I’m sure each of you had something exciting happen to you even if you didn’t go on a trip.”

Mrs. Navis tries desperately to ignore a waving hand coming from the middle of the third row behind Sara. She can ignore the waving hand, she can’t ignore the incessant, “Ooh, ooh, ooh, Mrs. Navis. Ooh, Ooh, Ooh.”

“What is it, Vincent?”

“Can I be first, my vacation was the best vacation in the history of spring vacations. Can I, Mrs. Navis. Can I?”

“I bet it wasn’t as good as mine,” says Mary sitting across from Vinnie. “My parents took me to Disney World and I went to the Magic Kingdom.”

“Boring, boring, and more boring. Everybody has been to Disney World or seen it on TV.”

“It was not boring. I got to hold hands with Cinderella,” says Mary.

“Children, stop. We’ll go alphabetically,” says Mrs. Navis hoping there will be no time left for Vinnie.

“That’s not fair, Mrs. Navis. My name begins with a V and I’m always at the end,” blurts Vinnie.

“Enough, Vincent.”

“Will you promise I’ll get a chance to tell my story? Please, Mrs. Navis. I’ll tell my mom what a good teacher you are,” says Vinnie.

Mrs. Navis thinks the last thing she needs is a principal and teacher and parent conference on why she didn’t let Vincent tell his story. “Okay, Vincent, we’ll make sure you have a chance to tell your story.”

“You won’t regret it, Mrs. Navis,” says Vinnie.


Writer’s Wisdom ~ Jane Hirshfield on Story

Story, at its best, becomes a canvas to which the reader as well as the writer must bring the full range of memory, intellect, and imaginative response. The best stories are almost mythlike in their ability to support alternative readings, different conclusions. ~ Jane Hirshfield

Vinnie Makes a Case to Return

“Ray! Ray! Ray!”

“What is it, Vinnie?” I answered and wondering why I didn’t ignore him.

“Can Rupert write the next story about me? He’s really very smart. Huh, Ray? asked Vinnie.

“Is he smarter than me?” I mistakenly asked.

“That’s a good one, Ray. Rupert is much smarter than you,” said Vinnie without hesitating.

I need to get a grip. He’s wearing me down. LOL

Writer’s Wisdom ~ Jeanette Winterson’s 10th of 10 Tips

[I]nstead of being completely overwhelmed by the things that happen to us. We are, by the writing of that story, by the way that we tell what’s happened to us, giving it back to ourselves instead of being powerless within it. ~ Jeanette Winterson

Writer’s Wisdom ~ Jeanette Winterson’s 9th of 10 Tips

There are stories that you can write, and there are stories that you can’t write. And, in the end, you write the ones that you can, and that allows you to bear the ones that you can’t. ~ Jeanette Winterson

Vinnie’s Mom Can Use a Little Help


On the road, somewhere in Texas heading west.

“Don’t talk to me. I’m going to sleep until we come back for Dexter. I don’t care if it’s forever,” says Vinnie from somewhere in deep recesses of the SUV.

“Vincent, come up her and get buckled into your seat,” says Vinnie’s mom.


“Vincent, I’m warning you. Unless you come into your seat this moment, no tablet privileges for one year,” threatens Vinnie’s mom.

An eight-year old boy’s voice rises from the rear of the SUV, “I can’t Mom, Rupert won’t let me.”

Vinnie’s mom turns toward Vinnie’s dad, “I could use a little help here.”

“What, Dear? I was setting our GPS,” says Vinnie’s dad. Vinnie’s dad takes his eye off the GPS screen and takes a quick glimpse toward Vinnie’s mom. He’s only seen this look twice before and both times it didn’t turn out well for him. He says, “I’ll take care of it.” 

Vinnie’s dad pulls over to the breakdown lane, puts the SUV in park, opens his door, walks around to the rear of the SUV and opens the hatch. He starts moving suitcases around. He doesn’t see Vinnie or Rupert. He unpacks the SUV. His temperature rising with each suitcase he lifts out. Three suitcases are out when he says, “Vincent, if you’re hiding in the wheel well, Rupert is going to ride up front with Mom and me for the whole trip.”

From the seat behind Vinnie’s Mom, “Whatcha talking about, Dad. I’m buckled in and ready to go on vacation. Why are you unpacking the car? Did you change your mind about going on vacation? If you changed your mind, can we get Dexter? Hi, Mom. Did you know I was right behind you the whole time? I was only kidding about sleeping until we come home. Are we going to stop for breakfast. I’m starving. What’s taking Dad so long?

Five minutes later, Vinnie’s dad is buckled in the driver’s seat. He half turns and says, “Is everyone ready? We’re going to have a great time.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “We’re off to a great start.”

Vinnie’s dad understands Vinnie’s mom is not being sincere. It’s a female subtlety that most men never learn to interpret. Vinnie illustrates the male lack of understanding females gene, “That’s how I feel, Mom. Can I use your iPhone to call Dexter, please?”

Vinnie’s mom says, “Vincent, we only pulled out of the Doggie Palace parking lot fifteen minutes ago. Besides, Dexter doesn’t have a cell phone so you can’t call him.”

Vinnie says, “Yes he does, Mom. I wanted to see if he’d answer it. Dexter might be the smartest beagle alive.”

Vinnie’s mom turns her head back toward Vinnie, “Explain to me how Dexter has a cell phone. You’re making this up, right?” Vinnie’s mom instinctively reaches into her handbag and fishes for her iPhone. She has a jolt of of relief when her fingers wrap around the iPhone.

Vinnie says, “I gave Dexter Dad’s iPhone.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “What?”

“Thanks, Dad. When we took Dexter inside and you asked me to hold your iPhone while you signed papers, I walked back to say goodbye to Dexter. I put your iPhone next to Dexter’s bowl of water.”

“Oh, no,” says Vinnie’s dad, putting the car in drive, signaling to pull out and making a U Turn. Ten minutes later, Vinnie’s dad runs toward the front door of Doggie Palace.


Grieving Became My Teacher

I wrote Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again in real time. Grieving became my teacher. It taught me many valuable lessons. Here is an excerpt illustrating one of those lessons:

“I learned those who grieve become invisible to many people. I now know what it is like to walk among those who grieve. In the past, if I caught a hint of their suffering, I kept them at a safe distance. I offered a short hug and kind words such as, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” I now walk among them, invisible to those who have not yet experienced grieving.”

Ordering information for the paperback or ebook version of Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again may be found here.

Excerpt From Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese

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