300 Sandwiches away from an Engagement Ring

A while back, I saw a story on television about a woman who made her boyfriend a sandwich. Ah, today’s news. Good stuff. Next to that was a story about how a guy forgot to put his socks in the laundry basket. The end.

Ok, there was more to the sandwich story but the obvious nature of this into lent itself too well to jokes to not run with it. Anyway. . .

The sandwich was apparently so good (it was a turkey and Swiss on white bread, in case you are curious) that the bf in this case said “Honey, you are 300 sandwiches away from a proposal.” Well if that doesn’t sound like a challenge, I don’t know what does. I know about 53 girls that would quit their day jobs and work at Subway as a sandwich ARTIST if the guarantee at the end of it all was a handsome fella and a 1.2-carat finger weight. Don’t go getting mayo on those prongs, ladies. It’s impossible to clean out.

You’ll all be relieved to know that this rad chick took the challenge and started making sammys for her man. Right around the 280 mark, he lived up to his end of the bargain and put a ring on it. See, my motto is true: sandwiches do bring eternal happiness.

For anyone on this side of the women’s lib movement, you can imagine the outrage that this story sparked for head-shaving, bra-burning ladies everywhere. “How 1950’s can you get? Little woman cooks for her man and that makes him marry her,” responses were posted from YouTube to Twitter, talking about what a misogynist this guy must be to make the little woman cook for him in order to agree to marry her. To this I say in my best Barbara Streisand impression: “Oy vey.”

Let’s be clear about a couple of things: first, I don’t recall even once that that the guy turned to his GF and said “Woman, make me a sandwich.” That’s a very different, pack your bags kind of scenario. Second, he didn’t threaten her at gunpoint to make him dinner. This was a feel-good story on GMA, not Dateline. No cooks were harmed in the making of these sandwiches. Lastly, and I know that this is what most of my readers are concerned about, she did not make 300 grilled cheese sandwiches. She actually went out and researched amazing sandwich recipes and cooked them up with and for her man. Breathe easy, readers. There was no inundation of cheddar and the worst intestinal blockage of this guy’s life. (I think now is a good time to warn you ladies that if your plan is to make grilled cheese for dinner for a year, abort mission! Cheese is good for the soul but not for the tummy, if you catch my drift.)

I actually thought that this story was totally charming for several reasons: first, this guy recognized his woman’s prowess for making delicious sandwiches and told her about it. If only every husband or wife would pay such homage to their spouse’s talents, I think there would be more wedded bliss. I’ve been waiting for just over five years for my hubs to tell me how amazing I am with our Kirby.

Second, this girl heard what made her man happy and decided that she wanted to keep doing this seemingly small act to bring him joy. In the grand scheme of things, sandwiches aren’t a big deal… except when they are. You never know what’s going to melt someone’s butter (mmmm, butter) so it’s important to pay attention. More times than not, what seems like a big deal to someone else may be a fairly insignificant sacrifice for you. Little sacrifices on your part could (and likely do) mean the world to someone else.

I loved this story so much that I’m issuing a Sandwich Challenge to my readers. The upcoming holidays are a good time to implement this because they are all about giving and sacrifice and yadda yadda yadda. . . This isn’t just about finding or taking care of your romantic interest (although I’m certainly all about that). This challenge will be equally effective in any relationship you hope to make stronger… like with your rich uncle. Jokes, jokes. Sort of.

The rules of the challenge are below. And of course, I would adore reports back on how this worked out for you – if you dare.

Carlee’s Sandwich Challenge 2015

First Step: Focus. Focus in on one or two people that you want to improve your relationship with. Again, this doesn’t have to be a romantic interest but absolutely can be. Even if it’s a “kind of stranger” that you feel like you want to know better, this will work; a neighbor, an acquaintance, the good looking nurse at your local clinic . . . ok, that last one may be a little more difficult unless you plan on getting a flaming case of strep throat on a weekly basis and even then . . . flu shots! Flu shots are coming up. Ok, we’ve solved your issue. I especially recommend this for you singles out there trying to snag a date with a particular someone . . . this will be a rad experiment for you.

Second Step: Listen. This is a toughie because we are so self-involved these days but this is the critical part of the challenge and without it, we’ve got nothing. Listen to the people you’ve decided to focus on. Listen for hints or flat our declarations of things they love or would like to do, see, visit or eat. People are dropping these hints ALL THE TIME even though they don’t’ realize it. “I love watching (feel in favorite 80’s movie here”; “I wish I knew how to make cake pops” (me, too. I for sure know how to eat them but. . .); “I love the fall and the leaves and pumpkins”; “I hate doing the dishes”. All of these seemingly insignificant statements can give you a lot of great ideas and insight into what makes your people tick.

Third: Write it down. We don’t want to make any hasty decisions right away as this could be dangerous: someone will make mention that they really like expensive cars and you’ll go out and take out a $70,000 loan and then you’ll hate me and. . . My point is not to go crazy. Be methodical. Take down some easy notes for a few weeks: likes campfires, wants to learn how to knit, needs an hour away from children, etc. This “listing” serves two purposes: first, it helps you keep track of individual “sandwiches” of each of your people – you’d hate to take a plate of peanut butter cookies to someone with a raging peanut allergy, am I right? Experiment over. Second, and this is the sentimental part, it generally means more to someone if you remember the things they said. If I said, “Gee. . . I sure love cupcakes,” and then you showed up with one 20 minutes later, it not only wouldn’t mean as much but it might seem like you are trying too hard. It, however, would blow my mind if you showed up with a cupcake three weeks later and said, “I saw these and REMEMBERED that you like them so I thought I would pick one up.” Mind. Blown.

Important side note: This is the most important warning I can give in the entirety of this blog: It’s critical to not be creepy. If the girl you are hoping to ask out makes mention that she loves her purple underwear (why would you say that? I don’t know. I’m old. I don’t know what you kids are up to these days!), maybe just don’t write that down. Turn on your “creeper” radar before you write just anything down; ask yourself, “Could this get me arrested?”, “Could this possibly make anyone mad?” or at the very least, “Will this cause extended conversation about me that includes concealed weapons permits and restraining orders?” If your answer to any of these things questions is even “maybe” let alone a resounding “yes”, I would recommend keeping it off the list. Also, anything that involves the word “poop”, but that’s just a personal recommendation.

Last Step: Divide and Conquer. Look through the list(s) that you’ve made and discard anything that is going to require a crazy amount of money (that you don’t have) or irrational wishes (that you also have that aren’t fulfilled like a trip to Italy). While these “bucket list” items are important for all of us to have (dream, people, dream), that is not the point of the Sandwich Challenge. The point of our little experiment is to see how much of an impact the seemingly insignificant sacrifices mean to other people and make a difference in their lives.

Once you’ve disregarded all of the impossible or even seemingly difficult tasks, you should have a nice little list of things you can do for that person (or people) without too much effort on your part. Look for things that:

• You can do without purchasing anything over a couple of dollars (or purchasing anything at all).
• You have a resource to help with (she wants to learn how to knit and your mom happens to be an expert).
• Acts of service that won’t take much time to complete (weeding a flower bed, babysitting for an hour, etc.).
• Things that you can to together. This last one is one of my favorite categories because it not only shows that you listened but that you want to spend time with the person completing a task or learning a new skill. Part of the appeal of the sandwich story was that not only did she research and make a lot of sammys for her man but that she got him involved; they researched together, they cooked together, it quickly became their “thing”, and having a “thing” is almost a guaranteed bond – a wonderful one at that.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to do. Make a plan and execute.

The purpose here isn’t to blow someone’s mind by taking them on a hot air balloon ride (unless you know a guy, of course, then just go for it). The point is to do several small things that make a difference – make someone in your life some sandwiches. It’s these seemingly small acts that can make a huge difference to someone else. Try it. And while you’re at it, eat a grilled cheese.

If you are interested in sandwich recipes (literal ones, not the figurative ones I’m talking about above), check out our sandwich vixen’s cookbook here.