Vinnie’s Mom Learns One of Vinnie’s Dark Secrets

23

Day 3. 

Vinnie’s dad has the SUV on cruise control zipping along Interstate 40, in eastern Arizona. Vinnie’s mom looks over her right shoulder and sees Vinnie completely engrossed in writing in the notebook she gave to him. She taps Vinnie’s dad on the thigh, he glances over. Vinnie’s mom says, “Vinnie hasn’t said a word in over an hour. He’s really into whatever he’s writing. I’d love to know what has taken hold of him.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Believe me, you don’t want to go there.”

Before Vinnie’s mom responds, Vinnie says, “Where? Maybe I want to go there. It might be fun. Do they have rides?”

Vinnie’s mom whispers, “I’m sorry.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “It’s only an expression. Mom and I were having a conversation.”

“What were you talking about, Dad? Was it me?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom and dad make eye contact. Vinnie’s dad shrugs his shoulders, “We were wondering what you were writing, that’s all.”

“I thought you didn’t want to go there,” Vinnie’s mom mouths to Vinnie’s dad.

Vinnie’s dad shrugs. He frequently uses this strategy when he can’t explain why he did something. It’s a strategy many males learn early on in relationships if their brain is four steps behind their actions.

“I was writing a story. I’m going to give it to Mrs. Navis when I go back to school after vacation is over. I’m pretty sure I’ll get an A because I write the best stories in the class. All the kids want me to read my stories out loud.”

Vinnie’s mom’s heart rate increases by twenty beats per minute. She says, “What?”

“I’ve been doing it all year, Mom.”

“What do you write about? How come I haven’t seen your stories?” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie looks out the window. He turns back, reaches over to the adjacent seat and picks up Rupert. He holds Rupert in front of him. “Rupert, Mom wants to know why you told me not to show her the stories I write for Mrs. Navis.”

“What are these stories about, Vincent?” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie turns Rupert around to face his mom and picks Rupert up high enough to hide his face from his mom. Using his falsetto voice as Rupert’s imaginary voice, he says, “I told Vinnie you might get upset with his stories because they are all about us.”

Vinnie’s dad dives in, “What do you mean, Rupert, all about us?”

Rupert says, “You know, you and Mom and Dexter and Vinnie and me. His last story was how he rescued you when you were talking to fat Mrs. Bevis.”

“He didn’t,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“He did.”

“What did Mrs. Navis say?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Vinnie never got to finish reading his story because he was laughing so hard, Mrs. Navis sent him to time out.”

“Time out? I didn’t know.”

“Opps. I don’t think I should have said anything, Vinnie,” says Rupert.

Vinnie’s mom turns to Vinnie’s dad. I don’t think we can ever go home. No wonder Julia Bevis has been snubbing me. I must be the laughing stock of all the parents.”

“Mom. I told better stories about Dad.”

“Huh!”

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Vinnie’s Mom Can Use A Little Help

22

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.

“Joey.”

“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 Tells Vinnie It’s for His Own Good

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Vinnie’s dad tosses a glance at Vinnie’s mom and says, “We can do this. We can beat Dexter and Rupert.”

“I don’t think so, Dad. Did you know Rupert’s IQ is higher than a genius. It’s even higher than Einstein’s IQ.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “I am not going to let a stuffed animal and beagle beat me. What is Rupert’s IQ. I’m a Mensa member.”

Vinnie’s dad slowly counts to ten, he has a feeling the Mensa member next to him is not going to like the answer.

Vinnie’s mom is not to be bested by a stuffed grizzly bear. She says, “Well, for Rupert’s information, Mensa is the oldest society in the world for high IQ people. You have to have a very high IQ to be included in Mensa. If Rupert’s IQ is so high he would be in Mensa with me.”

Vinnie’s dad is wondering why Vinnie’s mom is sparring with an eight-year-old and a stuffed grizzly bear. He decides not ask.

Vinnie puts Rupert next to his ear. He gently shakes Rupert causing Rupert’s head to bounce. Vinnie nods his head while he’s shaking Rupert. He sets Rupert on his lap and says, “Mom, Rupert told me he is too smart to be in Mensa. He has an IQ of one-thousand twenty-five. He thinks it’s higher but the IQ test can’t go any higher. What is Mensa anyway?”

Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes and says, “Never mind. Rupert, would I recognize whatever this thing is if I saw it? And, you can’t make up something Dad and I don’t know.” 

Rupert says, “Of course, Mom. Everybody in the world knows the answer. It’s obvious.”

“I am not your mother, Rupert. I am only Vinnie’s mother,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Rupert answers in a sad falsetto voice, “But, you’re the only mom I know.”

“Please, Mom. Will you be Rupert’s mom. He’s starting to cry. Everybody needs a mom and you’re the second best mom I know,” says Vinnie. He adds, “You’d be the best mom I know if I could eat unhealthy snacks once in a while. Joey’s mom lets Joey eat anything he wants and stay up as late as he wants and …”

“I don’t care what Joey’s mom does with Joey. I only care about you. Everything I do for you is for your good.”

“That’s what Mrs. Navis says all the time when she corrects me. Did she tell you to say that to me at one of your conferences?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad says softly, “Just tell him you want to be Rupert’s mom so we can go ahead with the game.”

“Do you know what you just asked me to do?” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Uh huh. It’s the only way through, Dear.”

“Rupert, I am your mom. Do you feel better? That does not count as a question,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Thank you, Mom. Does this make Vinnie and me brothers?” asks Rupert in his falsetto voice. “BTW, Mom, you’re down to fourteen questions.”

Vinnie’s dad interrupts the conversation, “Does the answer begin with a vowel?”

Rupert says, “Once in a while, but most of the time, no?”

“What kind of answer is that, Rupert?” asks Vinnie’s mom. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Vinnie raises his hand, “Oooh. Oooh. Oooh. I know. I know.”

Vinnie turns Rupert to face him. Rupert speaks to Vinnie, “It’s Mom’s turn. Do you mind if I call you Bro sometimes, since we’re brothers?”

Vinnie’s dad covers his mouth to stop from laughing. Vinnie’s mom is deciding whether to be angry or to laugh. She’s walking a tightrope high above the ground with gusty winds swirling around her. She makes a mental note to find a different child psychologist.

“You can be my Bro, Rupert.”

“Thanks, Bro. Fist bump,” says Rupert. Vinnie raises Rupert’s paw and fists bumps. He turns Rupert around to face Vinnie’s mom.

Rupert says, “Mom, do you have any more questions or do you want to guess. If you don’t, it’s Vinnie’s turn and I’m sure he will win.”

“Is this thing imaginary or real?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“It’s real,” answers Rupert. 

“You said it wasn’t grass. Does it have anything to do with a volcano? Sometimes volcanos come to life and most of the time they are quiet.”

“It could and then it couldn’t, Mom,” says Rupert.

“I can’t take anymore. What is the answer?”

“I can’t tell you, Mom. It’s Vinnie’s turn,” says Rupert as Vinnie turns Rupert around to face him.

“I can’t wait,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie and Rupert look at each other. Rupert says, “Bro, do you want to ask me a question before you answer?”

Vinnie’s dad can’t hold back, he starts laughing.

“Don’t encourage him, Dear,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“I don’t need to ask a question, Bro. Can I give you the answer?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie shakes Rupert’s head. Rupert says, “Un huh.”

“Is it a Zombie?”

“Bing, buzz, ding ding, we have a winner,” says Rupert.

“A Zombie? A Zombie? says Vinnie’s mom. “It does not begin with a vowel.”

“Sometimes they are known as the undead, mom. All the kids know about zombies. How come you don’t know about zombies, Mom? I thought you were smart. Rupert knows all about zombies. Now you know he has a higher IQ than you.”

“Are we almost there?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

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

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“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.”

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

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“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.