We usually don’t stand on ceremony about gift giving, when we see something, we get it. I guess that Zaia figured since I had been working so hard for the boys he was going to do something special for my birthday. The present he was going to get me was a beautiful pearl necklace with matching earrings; unfortunately they wouldn’t be ready for my birthday so Zaia felt compelled to surprise me with an additional gift on the special day.

The day arrived and a delivery van came with two men unloading a behemoth of a pot into our front door. Zaia calls me down and says surprise, Happy Birthday! I look at this humongous pot and say what the hell it that? Zaia says it’s for upstairs on the deck; we can plant a tree into it. Really, who is going to carry the pot upstairs, fill it with soil, plant a tree and reverse the process come winter when we have to put in the greenhouse? Zaia sheepishly says it won’t be that bad. I remind him how much work it is to take the much smaller pot we have in our downstairs garden in and out each year. He nods in agreement, while I say that unless there is a gorgeous, naked man jumping out of that pot it is going back to where you bought it. So it goes back.

Zaia explains about the pot and his rationale, telling me he bought it at Rubayait and he was sorry it didn’t work out. I said to him that of all the things you could have gotten me from that store, why didn’t you get me a glass bowl for our dining room table as I have always wanted one? As it turns out, Zaia was off to Las Vegas for a conference and he said he would look there for a bowl. He still hadn’t told me about the necklace and it was still a ways away from being ready. So off to Las Vegas and a glass bowl to be found, not!

Zaia returns from Las Vegas and as he is unpacking he says, surprise, Happy Birthday! Out comes this thin box, which couldn’t possibly be a bowl of any kind. I’m just holding my tongue and opening the package to reveal a Hermes scarf. The very classic pattern that old women are seen wearing and I wouldn’t be caught dead in. Now I don’t wear scarves in the best of times and if I were to wear one it would have to be a modern, bold print, like me.

Now I realize that Zaia has now gone and picked two presents for me, neither of which hit the mark. I can’t tell him what I feel; sensing this he enthusiastically tells me that the saleswoman showed him how to tie a few different knots to wear this scarf with. He shows me the variations he was taught and tells me to try it on. Now I’m thinking that the saleswoman who was so kind to show him this is thinking that he is buying his wife this very expensive scarf because he is feeling guilty about the hooker he spent the weekend with. It is not making this any easier for me but I thank Zaia and try it on. Then I hang it up with the knot intact into my closet and ponder my options.

This is a very expensive gift that I am not going to wear and I can’t bear the thought of that so I ask Zaia can he return it, I’m really sorry but I can’t keep it. Zaia knew this was coming and he was prepared and had already confirmed with the store whether or not he could return the scarf if I didn’t like it and they had said definitely. Phew, Zaia then confesses that my real gift was the necklace and these were just to buy him time until they arrive. I’m pleased as punch and look forward to my pearls.

So the next day Zaia calls the store in Vegas and confirms that they will return it and give him a full refund, they ask that it be couriered attention so and so. We untie the knot in the scarf and put it back into its beautiful box and try to put it into the express envelop and it doesn’t fit. Simple, remove it from the box and place it in the tissue and voila, it gets sent away.

The next day a phone call from the so and so in Las Vegas asking why he was sent this scarf and how did we get his name? And no he is not taking the scarf back and so he ships it back to us. Zaia calls the store to inquire about the refund and a huge, long running fight ensues. They claim now not to give a refund despite verbal agreements to do so and even the back of the sales receipt indicates this as well. We call Amex and explain that they will not give us a refund so Amex gives us 50% of the purchase price back. Zaia is not going to let this go so he calls the head office of Hermes in New York City and tells them the what for and that Oprah was right about them, they stink.

This goes back and forth for several months, in the meantime my gorgeous pearls arrive and I am thrilled, but back to the damn scarf. Finally after much wrangling they agree to take the scarf back but they need it to be sent in the original box and ironed as if new. Thank goodness we never did throw out the box but now for the ironing part. I would have sent it to the drycleaner had I not just experienced them completely ruining a brand new blouse I had bought and my faith in them was destroyed. I couldn’t risk them screwing it up but as it was my iron put more wrinkles in than it ever took out, what to do?

I had always had my eye on this really wonderful iron with its own ironing board and it had a great steam system, ooh, ooh, ooh, but it cost $450! But then so did the scarf, so let’s do a little math, Amex gave us back $225, Hermes will refund us the original cost $450, carry the one and guess what, we’re money ahead! I get my brand new iron, that every time I use it makes me laugh, the scarf is gone, pearls look wonderful and extra money, surprise!