Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Carl's Best

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Carl's restless form had pulled the sheets from the mattress. Jenna knew it was going to be a tough road ahead, but losing sleep wasn't going to help their situation.

"Honey," she said, putting her hand on his chest to quiet him. "We'll get through this. There are plenty of people who want to hire tire salesmen. I'll help you look tomorrow, just get some sleep."

"It's not that, Irene."


"It's not that, Jenna. I'm just starting to think that I could be something more."

"What do you mean? Like a sales manager?"

"No. Haven't you ever wondered what it would be like to be the best at something? Like Michael Jordan or Mozart or Alexander the Great?"

"Not really. I've got a house to run."

"I want to be the best at something. Getting fired was the best thing that could have happened to me. I'm gonna make my mark."

"That's great, honey. Doing what?"

"That's what I'm trying to figure out."

Jenna fell asleep around 4 AM and woke up four hours later to her husband's shouting. She ran to the kitchen to see what was happening.

"I've got it! I know what I'm going to do!" Carl said.


"I'm going to be the greatest mustard maker ever!"

Jenna's sigh turned into a yawn. "Do you anything about making mustard?"

"Absolutely!" Carl ran to the pantry and returned with a paper plate and a large yellow squeeze bottle of Belgian's Mustard. He squeezed the bottle's contents onto the plate. "Look, I'm making mustard."

"I think maybe the fatigue has made you a bit daffy, Carl. You're not making mustard. You're just squeezing it out of a bottle."

"I'm making mustard!" he screamed. "Watch!" He opened a drawer and pulled out a few of packs of Whitey's Yellow Mustard they'd gotten with their burger take-out last week. He tore open a pack and squirted it onto the plate. "I'm making mustard!" he screamed again.

"I think I'm going to stay with my mother for a few days," Jenna said, heading to the bathroom.

"You never supported my mustard business!" Carl shouted. Looking at the plate on the table, he dabbed a finger into a place where the two mustards had mixed. "Holy cow! Irene, come quick!"


"Jenna, come quick!" When she didn't come, he followed her into the bathroom. She was already showering. He tore aside the shower curtain and jabbed his yellow finger into her mouth.

"Glurp!" was the first thing she said before slapping his hand away. The next thing she said was, "Oh, my gosh!"

"Yes," Carl said, with a dripping, maniacal grin. "I've created Supermustard!"


Belgian's and Whitey's sued almost immediately, once Carl's Best Supermustard hit the market. As the months dragged on and Carl's rapidly gained market share, however, the two older companies felt it was in their best interest to drop their suits, as Carl's had become their largest single customer. In two years, Carl became the greatest mustard maker on the planet. People everywhere chastised their spouses for not becoming wealthy through the theft and recombination of the ideas of others who had to sweat for a living.

Jenna knew which way the wind blew. She had her name legally changed to Irene and she and Carl put her lack of support in the lean times behind them.

No comments: