Sometimes things work out. Often, you think things may work out, and then they don't work out. But occasionally, you know things aren't going to work out -- though you still hold onto some sliver of hope that they might -- and in the end, predictably, they don't.
I had one of those this week.
For a while, I'd been sitting on a gift card I received for my birthday to the Patriots pro shop. It wasn't football season, quite, when I got it, and I wasn't sure what I wanted. Also, I wasn't sure my wife wouldn't pick something out and scarf it from me.
(That's not fair, she says. Fine.
Lovingly scarf it from me.
I'm pretty well set for cold winter gear, and I'm perhaps past the stage of sporting game-day light-up beer coozies and novelty foam fingers.
Okay, not far past. But past. A little.
So I struggled a bit with the decision, right up until last Friday. We were scheduled to go to a game this week, so I figured I should bite the bullet and grab some swag. I finally settled on a replica jersey of my favorite player.
"I don't wear a fireman's helmet to work, nor a French maid's skirt out to dinner. Usually."
This in itself was not a simple decision. I'm not really a "jersey" kind of guy, generally speaking. I feel a little weird wearing another person's uniform -- or in this case, a cheaper iron-on team-sponsored replica of part of someone else's uniform.
But honestly, it feels sort of disingenuous, like I'm impersonating a police officer or something. I don't wear a fireman's helmet to work, nor a French maid's skirt out to dinner. Usually. So wearing someone's football jersey is an odd thing for me. It doesn't look weird to me when other people do it. I'm just never sure I'm doing it quite right.
(I've got the same deal with fedoras. I know I can't pull one of those off. I'd feel funny trying it in public.)
Still. There are a lot of guys -- and girls -- who wear these jerseys at football games, so I figured that was my 'in'. I'd order it, and wear it to the game. Maybe nowhere else, other than football-related events, but I do have the good fortune of attending a handful of Pats games most seasons, so it should at least get a fair workout.
Starting this week. So on Friday night, I bit the bullet, punched in the gift card and bought the jersey. It was a big step. And, like most big steps, I had a nagging feeling that something wasn't going to work out. As somethings tend to do.
But at least I'd have the jersey in plenty of time for the game. I was ordering on Friday, after all, and shipping only took three to five days, according to the website. No problem.
It was only then that I remembered the game wasn't on Sunday this week -- it was on Thursday. Still. Friday to Thursday, right? No problem.
Fine print: three to five working days for shipping. Oh.
Finer print: shipping done by USPS, not one of the shipping carriers. Oof. Well, at least they work on-
Eensy-teensy fine print: Saturdays don't count.
Still. Monday to Thursday -- three days. If shipping is three to five nationwide, and I live right here, practically in the epicenter of Patriot Nation, then I should be on the low side of that estimate. And since I ordered on Friday night, then surely -- surely -- they'll process the order first thing on Monday morning. It'll probably be on a mail truck somewhere by close of business. Maybe I'll even have it by Tuesday, to break it in a little.
I told myself these things -- because I'd just bought an article of clothing that I might wear three times a year, and one of those times was quickly approaching. I felt like I did the last time I bought a suit just before some acquaintance's wedding -- only this time, I actually wanted to wear the thing I'd bought. And I wanted to be at the event where I wore it.
(And I knew up front there was no open bar, so I wasn't going to be pissed and snippy when I got there.)
All the while, I knew it was a lie. My nine-day cushion, which was really a six-day cushion, reduced to a four-day cushion because football merchandisers and angry postal workers don't work on weekends, was running out. At four in the afternoon on Monday, I got an email from the pro shop, saying basically:
"Yeah, we just got around to packing a box with your shit in it. We set it out for the mailman, but he left for the bar hours ago, so he'll pick it up tomorrow, probably. Or the next day. What's the rush, really?"
So I knew. I talked to my wife yesterday before the game and she helpfully (if perhaps a bit naively) offered:
"Maybe there'll be a package sitting by the door when you stop home before the game."
Nah. Not in this lifetime. I'm fairly sure the universe doesn't work that way -- but I know the U.S. Postal Service doesn't work that way.
"Well," she tried, far less helpfully, "you should have used your gift card sooner."
She's right, of course. But that doesn't mean she's supposed to be smug about it.
Besides, she doesn't realize the agonizing details of the process. Or that I waiting to see whether she was going to want a sparkly team-branded rain slicker with Bill Belichick's growly face on the back. Or that I forgot the game was Thursday. I can't be held responsible for my faulty memory. This whole court is out of order!
Anyway. I went home; no package. I went to the game; no jersey. I went to bed. I went to work today and came home, and there was the package, sitting by the door, pretty as you please.
Maybe in a month or so, I'll have another chance to wear it. Of course, this is New England. By then, there'll be three feet of snow on the ground, and it'll be layer number four under two sweatshirts and an Eskimo parka. And it won't be warm again until April.
Ah, well. There's always next year.