Mother Mary never forgets anything. Take the Case of the Crossword Puzzle Cookie Jar.
Our story begins when I see an ad for a cookie jar in the newspaper. It's a square, white jar with a real crossword puzzle on each of the four sides, and it has a special pen that you use to fill in the blanks. Plus, it comes with heart-shaped cookies that I don't have to bake myself.
Mother Mary loves crossword puzzles, though she doesn't much care for cookies, regardless of shape. Bottom line, the crossword puzzle cookie jar struck me as a great gift for Mother's Day. At the time I saw the ad, it was two months until the holiday, so I ordered the jar online, charged it to my credit card, and specified that it be sent to her. Then I ordered her flowers like I always do and figured I had Mother's Day squared away.
But when I called her for Mother Mary's Day, she'd gotten the flowers but not the crossword puzzle cookie jar. It never came. She was happy with her flowers and didn't mind not getting the jar. She told me to make sure I wasn't charged for it. I wasn't worried. I assumed they hadn't charged me, because something had clearly gone wrong. The next week, she called me.
She said, "I saw an ad for that cookie jar, and that thing cost a hundred bucks."
"That's too much to spend on me."
"No, it's not," I said, because I'm such a sport. I'm the kind of daughter who promises her mother gifts that never arrive. And cookies that other people bake.
"Did you check and see if they charged you?"
"The statement didn't come in yet, but I will."
"Make sure you do. Mark my words."
Then, every time I called to say hi, the first thing she asked was:
"Did you make sure they didn't charge you for the cookie jar?"
"Not yet. Don't you want it? I can call and ask them to send you another one."
"No, I don't want it. It costs too much. I just want to make sure they don't charge you."
"How do you know? Don't be a patsy."
I smiled. Patsy is a great word. More people should use it. "OK, I'll check."
I hung up, vowing to check my credit statement when it came in. The next week, she called me.
"I slept terrible last night," she said.
"This thing with the cookie jar. It's keeping me up."
"It's a scam."
I blinked. "What?"
"Lots of people like crossword puzzles, right?"
"And lots of people like cookies."
"Right. So. The company says they'll send the cookie jars, but they don't, and nobody checks to see if they got charged, and the next thing you know, they're off on a cruise."
"Financed by cookie jars?"
"You got it!"
I hung up, this time vowing I would never order her anything from the newspaper, or anywhere else. Every gift I will buy and carry to her, or else she'll have a heart attack for Mother's Day.
But last week the statement finally came in, and I checked it.
You know what?
They charged me.
But I'm not telling.
Lisa Scottoline is a best-selling author of 15 novels. Her latest, "Look Again," is in stores now. Contact her at www.lisascottoline.com.