A Lesser Man

When his wife suggested he make the seven-minute icing, Todd Drenzel had no idea it would set him on a course as a wanted man.

Seven minutes was actually a misnomer. By the time he got out the stand mixer from the basement, and the mixing blade from the garage — they’d received it as a wedding present nearly a decade ago but had used it maybe twice — by the time he found it all, nearly half an hour had passed. A lesser man would’ve just mixed it by hand, but Todd Drenzel was not a lesser man. Not by a long shot.

By the time he’d run to the grocery store for powdered sugar, nearly 90 minutes had passed since his wife had asked him to make the icing. A lesser man would’ve just bought a can of premade frosting while at the store — the frosting was in the same aisle as the sugar, so it wouldn’t have been any trouble — but again, Todd Drenzel was not a lesser man.

The final straw, however, wasn’t the search for the mixer, or the trip to the store for the powdered sugar. The final straw, the one that set him on the path to becoming a wanted man, was after he’d made the icing. The 112-minute icing, he would’ve called it if he were capable of admitting mistakes to his wife’s bridge party, but Todd Drenzel was not a man who lived in the past, not a man who mulled over the nearly two hours of his life he’d wasted frosting a damn cake for a bunch of women who probably wouldn’t even eat it because they all claimed to have diabetes or Celiacs.

The final straw was his wife’s damned cat eating the 112-minute frosting.

She’d had Mr. McNutterpants since college. The creature and Todd Drenzel shared no love for each other. He knew it and the cat knew it. They’d spent the past ten years antagonizing each other, and whenever his wife wasn’t around sometimes Todd Drenzel was convinced she loved Mr. McNutterpants more than him, that if it came down to it she would choose the stupid cat over him. It wasn’t a theory he wanted to test.

After spending nearly two hours making the frosting, Todd laid down on the couch for a few minutes to watch the game. So caught up was he in the game, he didn’t hear Mr. McNutterpants jump onto the table and knock the cake onto the floor. He barely noticed when the cat came into the living room, face covered with frosting, and began hacking onto his foot. (Mr. McNutterpants, unlike Todd Drenzel’s wife’s bridge club members, actually did have diabetes and kitty Celiacs, and anything that had come into contact with gluten made him deathly ill).

Todd Drenzel only noticed when Mr. McNutterpants collapsed onto his foot, gave one last shudder, and promptly used up his ninth life, the other eight of which had been lost in his ongoing war with Todd.

Unfortunately for Todd Drenzel, his wife took that moment to come into the living room. She, being more aware of her surroundings than her husband was, promptly noticed both her dead cat and the frosting matted to his fur.

Sobs ripped from her chest. “You killed Mr. McNutterpants!”

A lesser man would’ve explained what had happened, or maybe admitted that perchance he had spiked the 112-minute icing with gluten powder, knowing it would send his nemesis to his grave. Todd Drenzel, as we’ve already established, was not a lesser man.

He took one look at his wife’s blotchy face, another at the dead cat on his foot, and bolted from the house.

Urged on by her bridge club members, who also preferred Mr. McNutterpants to Todd Drenzel, she promptly called 9–1–1 to report the murder of a Mr. Furface McNutterpants, neglecting to mention that the deceased was of a feline nature.

A greater man would have come back and explained what happened, clearing up the unfortunate misunderstanding with the officers while sharing laughs over the miscommunication — although these laughs would not be in his grieving wife’s presence — and then, after a couple days, drive his wife to the pound to get a new cat. A greater man would have put up the ensuing years’ of resentment, ignoring his wife’s passive aggressive comments that were probably partially deserved since he did indeed kill Mr. McNutterpants.

But as Todd Drenzel drove down the interstate, away from malicious cats and 112-minute icing and angry women who valued those things more than him, he decided that this time, being a lesser man was just fine.


E.D. Martin is a writer with a knack for finding new jobs in new places. Born and raised in Illinois, her past incarnations have included bookstore barista in Indiana, college student in southern France, statistician in North Carolina, economic development analyst in North Dakota, and high school teacher in Iowa. She draws on her experiences to tell the stories of those around her, with a generous heaping of “what if” thrown in.

She currently lives in Illinois where she job hops while attending grad school and working on her novels. Read more of her stories at her website.

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