Some afternoons, I will be eating a delicious sandwich alone at my computer when the Internet will heave up a personal essay so poorly conceived and utterly vacuous that it threatens to compromise my ability to ever love again. But today, the Internet came for my sandwich.
“I’m 124 Sandwiches Away From an Engagement Ring” is the unfortunately true story of how New York Post Page Six senior reporter Stephanie Smith fell in love with a vampiric computer programmer who demanded that she make him a sandwich every day. (“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?” he’d coo each morning when they awoke). Smith finally obliged, and the rest is … this bleak relationship-themed sandwich recipe blog-turned-New York Post essay. Writes Smith:
To him, sandwiches are like kisses or hugs. Or sex. “Sandwiches are love,” he says. “Especially when you make them. You can’t get a sandwich with love from the deli.”
One lazy summer afternoon just over a year ago, I finally gave in. I assembled turkey and Swiss on toasted wheat bread. I spread Dijon mustard generously on both bread slices, and I made sure the lettuce was perfectly in line with the neatly stacked turkey slices.
Eric devoured the sandwich as if it were a five-star meal, diving in with large, eager bites. “Babes, this is delicious!” he exclaimed.
As he finished that last bite, he made an unexpected declaration of how much he loved me and that sandwich: “Honey, you’re 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring!”
I paused. … Maybe I needed to show him I could cook to prove that I am wife material. If he wanted 300 sandwiches, I’d give him 300 sandwiches — and I’d blog about it.
Not everyone understood.
I asked friends for suggestions, but some, especially my single friends, were less than supportive of the idea.
“How ‘Stepford Wives’ of you!” said one single gal whose kitchen was used for shoe storage.
Another, a hard-working C-suite banking executive, also objected. “It’s not 1950!” she exclaimed. “It’s chauvinistic! He’s saying, ‘Cook for me, woman, and maybe I’ll make you my wife.’
Is “I’m 124 Sandwiches Away From an Engagement Ring” a chauvinist exercise? Ha, ha. If only we had the luxury of grappling with such advanced questions here. No. We are in “plant or animal?” territory now. Is “I’m 124 Sandwiches Away From an Engagement Ring” even human? If I produce 300 widgets for him, he will award me a whatsit. I’ve only got 124 more widgets to go before the deal is finalized. Then, I will reproduce the details of the transaction in a coffee table book and start raking in the whosits. Beep boop beep boop beep! Sandwiches are love!
How do we make sense of love in the time of “I’m 124 Sandwiches Away From an Engagement Ring”? The traditional romantic structures that previously organized our physical and emotional connections to other people are crumbling fast. Nobody buys one another root beer floats anymore. Everybody’s touching everybody else before they marry anyone. There are no boyfriends here. In the face of all this romantic disruption, some lovers are frantically constructing new frameworks—diamond-fishing sandwich blogs, for example—in a desperate attempt to reduce our strange and wonderful human experiences into another rote mechanical exercise. Stop. Love each other. Eat sandwiches. Don’t trade either of them for anything.
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