Vinnie’s Mom says, “Dear Jesus, What is it Vinnie?”

16 

Vinnie’s mom extends her arm and points toward the hallway leading to the bedrooms, “Go and don’t come out until you get up in the morning. Try to think of a different science project. You cannot use Dexter or any other animal.”

“Mom? Can I color in Dexter’s blonde spots with a black magic marker? I’ll need more turkey to make Dexter sit still.”

“Vincent, do not do anything else to Dexter’s fur. Do not experiment on him. Make sure you brush and floss your teeth. Then shower. Use soap. No getting wet and running out of the shower.”

“Why do I have to shower every night, Mom. Joey doesn’t shower. He takes a bath on Saturdays. He gets to stay up until ten. He doesn’t have to do his homework until he gets up in the morning. You know what Joey told me when I told him what I have to do every day?”

“What, Vincent?” says Vinnie’s mom, her hands now on her hips.

“Will you get mad?”

“No, Vincent, I will not get mad. You are stalling. I know what you are doing. You are trying to stay up late and it’s not going to work.”

“Joey said it sounds like I’m in jail because I have so many rules to follow. Joey doesn’t have any rules.”

“Vincent, how many times have I told you I am not Joey’s mom. I don’t care how Joey’s mom raises him. I am your mother.”

“I know you’re my mother, Mom. You told me about a zillion times. Can I get a snack to take in the bedroom?”

“No, brush your teeth, shower, and off to bed. I will be in to tuck you in after you shower. Then, dad will come in and tell you a story.”

“Mom! Mom! Mom!”

“Dear Jesus, what is it Vinnie?”

“You just gave me another idea for my science project. This one is the best one yet.”

“What is it, Vinnie. I hope it is not a silly idea. You cannot use Dexter or Rupert in your science project. Can you do something like the other kids in your class. You can grow plants, you can see what melts faster ice cream or frozen milk, you can measure if clothes dry faster with dryer sheets than without. These are all great ideas. I was looking them up online.”

“Mom, I can think of something better. Tell Dad I want to hear the next adventure of Power Pete. Dad should quit his lawyer job and write books about Power Pete. I’d read them.”

Vinnie’s mom stoops down to one knee. She motions Vinnie to come to her. She puts her hands on his shoulders. “I know you are trying so hard to come up with the best project ever, Vinnie. Can I make a suggestion to you?”

“Sure, Mom.”

“Instead of thinking of a project, think of a a question you want to answer. When you have a good question, your science project will be to answer the question. Does this make sense?”

“Wow, Mom. You’re a genius. You’re smarter than Dexter, but not as smart as Rupert. I already have a question.”

“Thank you for the compliment, Vinnie. Maybe one day I’ll be smarter than Rupert.”

“I don’t think so, Mom. He reads all day while I’m at school. Here’s my question, Why is Mrs. Navis so mean? It’s perfect, right, Mom.” 

Vinnie looks at his mom who is giving him a look, he says, “I need to come up with a different question, right, Mom?”

“Yes, Vinnie. Now, brush, floss, shower, and tell me when you’re finished,” Vinnie’s mom gives Vinnie a hug and kiss on the top of his head.

Vinnie turns and heads toward the bathroom. Dexter heads toward the kitchen. Even a beagle knows there is no food where Vinnie is going.

Vinnie’s brushing his teeth he runs out the bathroom, his mouth foaming with toothpaste. Dexter leaves the kitchen on a full run heading toward Vinnie. Whatever Vinnie is mumbling, it must be about food. This is the way Dexter thinks.

Vinnie stops at the edge of the living room. Two things happen simultaneously when Vinnie stops. He starts speaking and while he speaks toothpaste foam sprays on everything with five feet of his voice.

“Mom, I got a terrific question for my science project. Want to . . .”

“Vincent. Stop talking. Your getting toothpaste over the rug. OMG, I’m going to have to clean this before it stains.”

“Can I time you, Mom. It could be my science project.”

“Go!”


Vinnie Returns in 7 Days

“Ray, Ray, Ray!”

Vinnie is holding his stuffed grizzly bear, Rupert, in front of his face and speaking in a falsetto voice. Am I going to slip into an 8-year old boy’s fantasy world to communicate with him? It’s the only way Vinnie will leave me alone.

“What is it, Rupert?” I ask hoping my kids don’t seek a power of attorney and declare me incompetent.

“Ray, Ray, Ray, it’s only 7 days until Vinnie returns,” says Rupert.


Vinnie Returns in 9 Days

“Ray, Ray, Ray, can Rupert say the countdown?” asks an excited Vinnie.

I don’t want to prolong the dialogue, “Sure, Vinnie.”

Vinnie holds Rupert, his stuffed grizzly bear in front of his face and speaks in a falsetto tone, “9.”

“Did Rupert do great, Ray? Did he?” asks Vinnie.

“None better,” I say thinking do I have to do this for eight more days. Ugh!


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 Never Lets Up

“Ray, I just made you $50,000. Will you bring me back?” said Vinnie.

“$50,000. No way,” I said.

“I did, Ray. I was reading your emails and clicked on the link to somebody named Lufa who said you can get $50,000 if you click on the link,” said Vinnie.

“You didn’t! I probably have spyware, ransomware, malware. Why did you do that?” I stammered.

“Ha, ha, Ray. April Fool! I gotcha.



Vinnie’s Mom Understands Guy Stuff All Too Well

28

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.

28


Vinnie’s Mom Has A Splitting Headache

27

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.”

“Check.”

“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 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!”


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?”