If you haven’t heard about 300 Sandwiches then, well, you’re in for a special (gag-inducing) treat. Stephanie Smith (a journalist for the New York Post) has been challenged by her boyfriend Eric to make him 300 sandwiches (we’re talking gourmet sandwiches, not a grilled cheese made with American on white) before he proposes marriage.
Here, let Stephanie explain:
My boyfriend E is obsessed with two things: Star Wars and sandwiches. During a Sunday lunchtime viewing of “Return of the Jedi” he told me: “you are 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring!” … And so, I got cooking …
I’m a Midwest girl living in New York, a writer and foodie who loves a good meal. I love chocolate, pork buns, and sushi more than I love a sale at Saks. I’m a woman who loves her man, but also never backs down from a challenge. If he wants three hundred sandwiches, then I’ll deliver.
OH MY DEAR SWEET HELL, JUST SHOOT ME NOW. This reeks of a get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich, bitch “joke” reworked into a soulless romantic comedy. How could a successful, intelligent woman mistake that for an actual wedding proposal?
Stephanie of course has a response to my question. How thoughtful!
Some say I’m just desperate to get engaged. Hardly. I don’t have to be. E didn’t say “cook me 300 sandwiches or I’m leaving you!” He gave me a challenge—a dare, to some degree—and the type-A, Tracy Flick side of me can’t stand being challenged. I will prove to him and the rest of the world I can make the 300 sandwiches.
To be blunt, I don’t buy it. If Stephanie’s endgame is marriage, then it wouldn’t matter if Eric threatened to leave her over the sandwiches or not. Eric’s behavior is nothing short of manipulative.
There are some warning bells going off as I read more and more of the posts. For instance: There are tags for “forbidden“/”Forbidden foods“. Hell, there’s a list of “forbidden” foods in the sidebar! And I get it, there’s some shit out there that will simply ruin a pizza for me (whoever thought that black olives would be a great addition to an otherwise wonderful pie needs to sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done). But “forbidden,” even in the context of making food for someone else to enjoy, is scary strict and not a healthy way to talk to a romantic partner. I know people with food allergies that wouldn’t even use that type of black-and-white, here’s-the-line-you-do-not-cross language and their health is on the line (unlike Eric who just doesn’t like to eat green vegetables). At minimum, it’s condescending and insulting.
Here we have a successful, intelligent woman willing to debase herself for the world to see to earn an engagement ring.
But when I served up the pita to E, all pretty with slices of cucumber on the side, he grabbed the sandwich eagerly, looked at its beautiful presentations….. and then swiftly picked out all of the beautiful black olives that lay daintily in the pita. One. by. one.
“I…what! Are… you…serious?!”
“I thought they were already on the forbidden list?”
I balked. “No, honey, there has been no mention of OLIVES on the list!”
He smiled. “Well, you’ve got an additional item.”
Speechless. Absolutely speechless. To me, the olives kept the sandwich from tasting bland and flavorless. E tried to make me feel better. “But the fennel was perfect, honey. Soft, but still crispy.”
I didn’t care. I glared at him. “Really? No olives?! After 160 some sandwiches, now you tell me!”
He stoked my cheek and smiled. “Baby, I’ve got to put some obstacles in the course. It makes it more interesting.”
My internal voice is now screaming RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN! Seriously, I think Eric broke my creep-o-meter.
But I digress. The first thing I thought when I came across this whole fiasco was why the hell does this woman want to get married to her boyfriend? Sure, she says that she loves Eric, but if I married every guy I fell in love with, I’d have at least a couple of divorces under my belt (or a harem of hairy dudes. Whatever).
There are plenty of legit reasons to get married. Trust is a big one for me; I know that should I become incapable of making any sort of decision for myself, I can trust Mr. A to make medical and financial choices that will be the best for our family*. But falling in love with a dude and declaring CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! is not the foundation for a healthy long-term relationship.
Straight, cis-, middle-class** (and wealthier) women are told over and over and over again that we have an “expiration” date. That our “biological clock” is ticking or that we won’t be desirable if we get too old. (Our partners don’t have this problem– men only get more distinguished as they age, right?). Our worth is bound up in our perky breasts and our ability to get pregnant.
Stephanie says so herself in the New York Post story that brought her sandwich making into the limelight:
Ten sandwiches or so in, I did the math. Three sandwiches a week, times four weeks a month, times 12 months a year, meant I wouldn’t be done until I was deep into my 30s. How would I finish 300 sandwiches in time for us to get engaged, married and have babies before I exited my childbearing years?
We also must “earn” the right to marry “the man of our dreams”. It’s not enough to have a loving, trusting relationship built on mutual respect, we women have to prove that we’re worthy. Of course, this may not be the case for the 300 Sandwich family, but their story certainly raises questions of how we view marriage as a society.
Marriage is the goal, not a work in progress. Marriage is something that men do to women, after the appropriate tithe has been paid, instead of a relationship of equals. (For reference, see EVERY ROMCOM EVER FILMED and the vast majority of Disney “princess” films.)
Simply put, it is not sexy to talk about long term plans, finances, children, end-of-life planning, educational goals… you get the idea. We have this screwed up notion that long-term love comes from sacrifice, instead of mutual understanding and similar desires and goals. (Before you say that making sandwiches isn’t a big sacrifice, Stephanie is willing to publicly embarrass herself for a marriage proposal. She’s willing to give up time when she’s ill, injured, and exhausted just to reach the completely arbitrary goal of 300 sandwiches.)
Regardless of what Stephanie says, this project is not empowering. It is not romantic or sexy. It’s cringeworthy, with a side of “this guy sounds like he could be emotionally abusive”. Perhaps if it was 300 Sandwiches We Made for Each Other or Let’s Talk About Our Long Term Goals While Eating Sandwiches, we could actually see two people coming closer together in an equal partnership, instead of watching Stephanie make sandwiches and complain about feeling like a housekeeper.
*Which is exactly why I support marriage equality– all couples need the medical and financial security that comes with a marriage license.
**Working class women are, of course, supposed to keep their knees together because we all know that they’re too irresponsible to raise children, assuming they don’t have a gaggle already. /disgusting stereotypes
Post script: Mr. A on 300 Sandwiches: This is some Fifty Shades of Gray bullshit played out with food.
Alexandra is the Hivemind’s benevolent overlady, who resides in that strange dimension where she has both too much time on her hands for her own good and she doesn’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done. She is currently reading Have a Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks by Mick Foley because there is something oddly fascinating about professional wrestling.