Yes, you are suffering from the all too common "arrays
in a scalar context return their size while lists in a
scalar context return their last member" syndrome.
If ret_array were returning an array, then you could do
array things to it like:
push( ret_array(@a), "add" );
which you can't.
So you don't call something an array based on what it
returns in a scalar context. The definition of an array
in Perl is much narrower than that (an array is a type
of variable, not a type of value).
The flip side of this is that there are lots of definitions
for "list" going around so you have to be careful to realize
which one is being used each time you see the word "list".
Feel free to search for more on this topic (I've said plenty
on it recently and not so recently). (:
(but my friends call me "Tye")