300 Sandwiches To Get Engaged: Why We're All Missing The Point

300 Sandwiches To Get Married: We're Missing The Point

Stephanie Smith courted controversy with her gimmicky stunt. But it was never about the sandwiches.

Issue #2: It was never about sandwiches.

The whole premise couldn't go the distance. Mainly because I don't believe that the sandwiches matter all that much. It was a gimmick, a stunt. A bold opinion and practice should inspire me to change, to emulate. This, not so much.

I knew when I first read this story that the center on it couldn’t hold: Why does he need her to earn an engagement ring in this way? What do 300 sandwiches prove that 200 or even 50 don't? Why wouldn't you want to make something for a person you love — especially since, by her account, he makes her dinner all the time? Why do we care? What's at stake? Even she admits he’s not leaving her if she's short one ham on rye.

The problem isn't this guy or the sandwiches. The problem is the lack of vision, authenticity and meaning. Anyone can follow directions to earn a thing. I'll make you 300 sandwiches if you pay my rent for a few months, for instance. Anything's negotiable. But we already know it's not that big a deal to her that he ask her for it or that she do it. So nothing's at stake. She went for a titillating counter-feminist thing, and then she dropped it when it got too hot.

If she were a powerful women with a bigger idea about why this mattered, she wouldn't have done that. She'd have said, "No, this is important to us, to him, to me, and the fact that you hate it is your biggest issue." But she didn't. And so the rest is moot.

Issue #3: The idea that earning ends.

I’d be remiss if I didn't touch on what initially bothered me, and still does, about the sandwich premise: The idea that the earning ends when you get what you want.

Remember this joke? The best man asks the groom, Why are you smiling? He says, "Because last night I got the best blow job of my life." The maid of honor asks the bride why she's smiling. She says, "Because last night I gave the last blow job of my life."

The joke points to one of the biggest potential problems in a relationship: This misguided notion that we do favors until we get what we want, and don't have to do them anymore. You can apply it to sandwiches. Or foot massages. Or whatever. The point is, if you're jumping through hoops to make a point or earn a thing, that's easy. Who cares? What's far more powerful is the notion that someone asks you for something he wants and you willingly give it, again and again. And vice versa. That you keep wanting to do it.

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Smith's mother tells her that a relationship is a marathon, not a sprint. And yet this is nothing more than a 300-sandwich sprint to the end goal. Fact is, the guy has to want more from his girlfriend than a sandwich for a sandwich’s sake. And she has to want more than a ring to make him one.