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ernie's world the book
This Story Appears in Ernie's World the Book

The store manager looked at
me strangely and I realized
I was holding a pair of
extra-large women's shorts
and an athletic bra.

I had several choices on Saturday. Clean the garage, wash the car, or go to the golf store and waste hours looking at a bunch of stuff I couldn't afford....

It was crowded at the golf store. I like it when it's like that. The salespeople are too busy to pester you, and you can play with the putters all day long. I have won many imaginary tournaments on that little carpeted green.

I was heading to the front of the store to forage in the "experienced" golf ball jar, when I saw three familiar kids—mine—coming in the front door. At first I assumed my wife sent them and that I'd have to clean the garage after all, then I saw the sign over the checkout stand, ask about our father's day specials.

They were here to buy me a gift! Not another Three Stooges tie. Not another Handy Mitt, the greatest car washing aid since water. But a golf gift. Cool.

I ducked down behind the shoe mirror as they headed toward the golf ball section. Would they buy the Tour Edition Top Flites? Probably not without help. I dashed down the club display aisle and slipped behind the mountain of shimmering red and gold boxes.

"What about these yellow balls?" I heard the youngest child ask.

"Or these orange ones?" my daughter added.

I poked until a box of Top Flites fell on the floor a few feet from them.

"Whoa, dude. This whole thing could fall," said my older son.

"Yeah. Let's look somewhere else."

Darn. I followed in a crouched position as they walked slowly by the golf bags and over to the glove display. Perfect. One of those double-thick, imported jobs with the removable ball marker. They walked right by. Okay. Maybe they'll pick out one of those electronic distance calculators, or a six-pack holder. They ambled on.

Finally, they entered the clothing section and headed for a rack full of Ralph Lauren Polo shirts. Yes! I could already picture myself standing in the fairway, contemplating my approach shot, while the others in my group commented on my impeccable taste.

"Hey. Look over here." The enthusiasm in my daughter's voice meant they had found the perfect gift. I felt bad that they were going to spend all that money, but who was I to question their immeasurable affection.

"Cool. And they're cheap, too."

Cheap? I peeked through some women's sweaters. My daughter was holding up a pair of pink polyester pants that had been on the clearance rack since Day One.

"And we could get this to go with it." The oldest son held up a lime green mesh shirt.

I gasped. They looked in my direction, so I slipped further back into women's wear, bumping into the store manager.

"Just browsing," I whispered.

He looked at me strangely and I realized I was holding a pair of extra-large women's shorts and an athletic bra. Behind me I heard, "Look. The final touch."

I got down on all fours and stuck my head out. My youngest son was holding up a hat that said tee-riffic golfer, in type large enough to see four blocks away.

"But it's red," the other son said. "Does that matter?"

"Naw," said my daughter. "Golfers always dress weird."

I watched them walk toward the front, then I turned and looked at the manager. "I don't suppose...?"

"Nope. All sales final. Besides, you'd break their hearts."

I slept in on Sunday. About nine they marched into the room, placed a package on my chest, and said, "Happy Father's Day."

I tore the wrapping slowly, hoping I could muster up enough excitement when I held up that hat. But the package contained only a note.

"Look beside you," it said.

I turned slowly and there on the pillow was one of my favorite putters from the golf store.

"I don't understand," I said.

"Dude," said the older son. "We, like, knew you were there. Your car was parked out front."

"Are you disappointed?" my daughter asked.

"No! This is perfect." I stroked my new putter lovingly. "So," I laughed. "Guess they let you take those dreadful pink pants back, huh?"

Just then my wife entered the bedroom carrying a carefully wrapped package.

"Ahhh. Not exactly..."