Next week is my husband’s birthday and, as always, I am short on gift ideas.

Luckily, I’m still basking in the glow of an excellent Christmas gift I surprised him with last month: golf clubs.

For decades he has been playing with a hand-me-down set of clubs that belonged to his oldest brother. I’d always assumed he loved those old clubs. Maybe they were lucky, or he felt sentimental about using them, I reasoned. Turns out he was just too cheap to buy new ones. So I did it for him.

On Christmas morning I tied a piece of twine to the front door with jingle bells attached. My husband tried to use the door and spotted the twine. He followed it out the door, through our entryway, and into his workshop. There he found more twine and more jingle bells, so he followed it through all of those doors, which took him all the way through his shop and into the barn. Inside the barn, the twine took a sharp right-hand turn into the hay room next to the pony’s stall. The end of the twine was tied to a bale of hay.

“Now what?” he asked, reaching the end of the line.

“Pull the string!” I said. He yanked on the twine, and the bale tumbled to the floor, revealing his beautiful new golf clubs.

My husband’s jaw dropped. It was a beautiful moment. Now I’ve shared a few stories of my poor gift-giving choices in the past. One year I bought my husband a mailbox for Christmas. I also may have given him a clock. I’ve presented him with clothes he never liked, wallets he never used, and watches he never wore. You can’t win them all.

I used to be good at buying him gifts, I swear. For our first wedding anniversary, the paper anniversary, I got him Patriots tickets. And I didn’t even make him take me to the game. He took my brother.

This year I definitely outdid myself. I found the clubs on sale and bought them online on the sneak. Then I had to pick them up at the store. I was thrilled to bypass the long lines and have my purchase delivered straight into my hands in less than 10 minutes at the “Store pickup” counter.

“Are you sure you’ve got it?” asked Geoff, the salesman.

“Got it,” I said. I hoisted the box up in front of me and fast-footed it toward the exit. Halfway to the door, I already felt regret. Carrying the carton in front of me made walking difficult. The box was taller than I was and I could barely see. But I had gone too far to turn back. I kept walking and tried not to run into anyone.

In the foyer, I dodged a father and his young son.

“Do you need a hand with that?” the dad asked.

“Nope, I’ve got it,” I lied, and continued toward my car.

As I crossed from the store to the parking lot, two guys passed.

“Want some help?” one asked.

“No, thanks,” I said. “My car’s right here.”

I unlocked the back of my SUV and tried to chuck the giant box inside. It was too long to go all the way in straight or sideways, so I had to put it on the diagonal. The only problem was, I hadn’t emptied out the back of my vehicle.

“Somebody’s gonna be happy this Christmas,” a husband said cheerfully as he walked past my car. His wife smiled, too.

“He’d better be,” I shot back, pulling a storage bin, umbrella and long-handled ice scraper from the back of my car and shifting the box diagonally.

“Need some help?” he asked.

“Nope, all set,” I said. “Thanks.”

Eventually victory was mine. I angled the box and stowed the storage bin and other items, then stepped back to admire my handiwork. That’s when tragedy struck.

Emblazoned on the box was the word “senior.”

“What?” I said aloud, to no one in particular.


No, no, no, this was not happening. Why did they give me senior clubs? Did I order senior clubs? Could I somehow pawn these clubs off on my unsuspecting husband? Wait, is 55 a senior? He’s definitely on the back nine. Hmm.

Sadly, I knew what had to be done. I removed the storage bin, umbrella and ice scraper. Then I wrestled the box out of the back of my car, threw my personal items back in, and slammed the door.

Hoisting the box up in front of me, I fast-footed it through the crosswalk and back into the store.

“Need a hand?” a male voice asked in the foyer.

“Nope,” I huffed. “All set, thanks.”

The box was slipping, so I balanced it on my foot and hiked it up even higher this time, trucking it through the doors and plopping it down in front of the “Store pickup” sign. Exasperated, I looked for Geoff. He noticed me immediately, but averted his eyes.

Mumbling under my breath, I waited at “Store pickup” and watched the long lines of shoppers. The lines were not moving. At least I wasn’t in one of those lines, I told myself. Geoff, now running a cash register, continued to not know me. A woman with a clipboard approached. I explained my dilemma and she looked at my online order form.

“Well, all we do is scan the SKU code, so this must be what you ordered online,” she said, blaming me. I bit my tongue. She told me to go to the golf shop, get the clubs I wanted, and get customer service to swap them. Perfect.

In the golf shop, the only live person was an actual senior who was practicing his putting. I smiled and he nodded, then missed his putt. There were no store employees anywhere, and the only clubs like mine were on display and bolted to the wall.

Killing time, I spotted some Caddyshack-themed gopher golf club covers and tried to think happy thoughts.

“But if I kill all the golfers they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key,” I mumbled, channeling Bill Murray.

The putting senior looked to see who I was talking to, then went back to putting.

“What an incredible Cinderella story…” I recited under my breath. He missed.

“That’s a peach, hun,” I snickered.

At the unmanned cash register I found a “ring for service” button on the counter, so I pushed it. A loud bell chimed. Still, nobody came.

“So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice,” I said, laughing maniacally.

I finally just made a beeline for customer service and got in the queue. When it was my turn, I told my story, gestured toward the senior clubs and then gestured toward Geoff, who now was at the register right next to us. He did a quick double-take when he heard his name.

The clerk apologized and said the mix-up happens all the time. The boxes are nearly identical, and the SKU codes aren’t always correct. Music to my ears. In less than three minutes I had the clubs I’d ordered and was headed out the door.

“Sorry about the mix-up,” Geoff said, as I hustled past his register. “Are you sure you don't need a hand?”

And the beat goes on.