“Make me a sandwich.”
That’s what my boyfriend, E, asks without fail every morning. Not “babe, where are my keys?” Not, “honey, where are my socks?” And no, not even, “c’mon, just the tip?”
Sandwiches. Doesn’t matter what kind. Two pieces of bread, some meat and cheese and he’s in heaven.
E is a lovely cook. He can whip up breakfast, barbecue or a dinner party for 10 without much thought. I’m still working my way through ‘The Joy of Cooking’, but I can make a few meals at random. I am much better at cleaning–after E cooks.
Things are fairly serious between E and I. We’ve been dating for more than a year, and recently, we moved in together to a lovely Brooklyn apartment. We talk about the future—-getting a dog, buying a country house, we’ve even talked about having a family without him breaking into a cold sweat and changing the subject. But I didn’t know when E would be ready for marriage. And like every woman in her mid-30s in a relationship, I wondered if we were going to go the distance.
I realized what it would take to get him to commit after the first time I made him a turkey on whole wheat bread, with mustard, lettuce and swiss cheese.
“Honey, this is the best sandwich ever!” he exclaimed in between bites so rapid in succession, the sandwich was gone in minutes. And then, he dropped a bomb me: “You’re, like, 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring.”
That was it—a proposal hinged on me making him sandwiches.
Sandwiches meant more to him than nice gifts, regular sex or any other incentive I could use to get him closer to putting a ring on it. I’m not sure how 300 became the magic number. Perhaps because it would take me about a year to make that many sandwiches, if I produced one Monday through Friday. That seemed like a long enough time in the future to seem far way. It also seemed like a lofty enough goal, out of easy reach, to set without complete confidence that I would accomplish it.
And so, I got cooking.
Some might say the idea is sexist. “A woman in the kitchen—how Stepford Wife of you!” a friend argued. I say come over for dinner, and watch E whip up roasted duck breast with a balsamic and currant sauce with a roasted parsnip puree and shaved pickled beets in no time, and you’ll see who spends more time in the kitchen.
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.
When I reach my 300th sandwich, I’ll have an arsenal of meals I can use for dinner, parties, picnics, breakfast and desserts. And barring any major fights or infidelities, E and I will likely go all the way, buy that country house and have babies, so I’ll need to know how to cook a variety of meals for my kids and house guests anyway. You know the old saying–the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
So follow me into the kitchen. Suggestions are welcome for sandwich ideas through comments, email, Facebook, and Twitter.by