By now most of us are over the shock and the giggles, mostly anyway. The story of Stephanie Smith, the NY Post reporter whose quest to make her boyfriend 300 sandwiches in order to activate his marriage proposal reflex, sent shockwaves across inboxes and social media yesterday. As the story goes, Smith wanted to prove her marriageable worth to her Julian Assange-lookalike boyfriend by regularly making him sandwiches.
Each morning, he would ask, “Honey, how long you have been awake?”
“About 15 minutes,” I’d reply.
“You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?”
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.”
It’s hard to tell whether this is legitimately real or just a marketing tool in order for her to secure a book deal or Food Network gig. Regardless, it is an interesting moment (for the record, her sandwiches look delicious) for gender roles. A lot of guys found this –– having a woman constantly feeding good grub as a litmus test–– to be a great thing, even if we know that this only exists as a theoretical. This is obviously a fluke. The right man had to meet the right woman.
However, a lot of women took offense to the entire idea and responded accordingly.
i don't want to get married bad enough to make 300 sandwiches for any damn body.
— crissle west (@crissles) September 25, 2013
If a man told me I was 300 sandwiches away from an engagement ring, I'd leave a loaf of bread and a bottle of hand lotion on his doorstep.
— Stereo.* (@uncletypewriter) September 26, 2013
This story has legs on its own, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the woman in question is black. The fact that her husband is white actually matters less here, it adds to the eyebrow raise factor sure, but it’s almost beside the point. That Smith is a black woman, who, for whatever reason felt like she needed to go the extra mile, fits right into the narrative of black women and their dating options here in 2013. She has all the measurables: mid-30s, professional career, and no children. She is but one of millions, caught up in the rapture of trying to secure long-term stability.
A lot of women will read this and what I just wrote and scoff, doubting the seriousness of it all. Not wanting to give in to the reality banging on their front door that they may in fact be considered a statistic. Some reports state that the marriage rates for black women are less than 30 percent. Even if you counter that marriage rates are declining across all racial groups, it still doesn’t change the fact that African-American women are in a tenuous situation. Now of course, black men are involved in this problem, and are the single most important determining factor in raising those rates. Right now, however, we’re focusing on this woman, who’s likely to be clowned at various dinner parties for the next month.
Truth is, a lot of women can learn something from her ambition. A relationship is a two-way street and it requires that both parties humble themselves for the greater good. Obviously a crusade to make 300 sandwiches is not realistic. No dude is expecting that. Whether or not we marry you has zero to do with 300 sandwiches. I woulndn't even ask a woman to do that for me. Honestly, most dudes would be good with 50 sandwiches and that new Xbox. What’s attractive here is the effort, the fact that she decided to go out of her way to bring a smile to this dude’s face. Effort shows trust and commitment. Especially in this era where women routinely drop expletives when asked the old age question of “what’s for dinner?” Ladies should know, all things being equal, the woman going the extra effort is going to win.
At the end of the day, everyone has to do whatever they feel is best in order to change their station in life. Some women might think she’s setting back gender roles, but at the end of the day, this is the life she chose. How can you honestly knock her hustle?
For her sake, I hope this venture ends well. Hope she has a back-up plan or something that turns this idea into a business venture if the plan goes awry. It would suck if at sandwich number 298, her boyfriend changes his mind about their relationship and tells her he’s into salads now. Or white women.