1. I don’t eat sandwiches. I’d say I don’t like them but actually that’s not true. I mean, what’s not to like about a sandwich? I’ll tell you what—carbs. Delicious gummy white bread carbs with mayo and cheese and just enough lettuce to add a little crunch. I did not discover mayo until I was 18. My mother believed in Miracle Whip. Trust me, it was not a miracle.
2. Growing up, I ate a sandwich nearly every school day. Whole wheat bread + peanut butter, preferably crunchy. No jelly. We ate Wegmans (store brand) peanut butter, though rumor has it that it is really Peter Pan. Now I use JIF because my SigO has strong feelings about peanut butter brands. He also does not like crunchy peanut butter—or maybe the kids don’t like crunchy peanut butter. It’s been so many years since I’ve had crunchy peanut butter it's possible that I no longer like it, either. The relevant point is that I didn’t particularly like the sandwich but it was fast. I preferred jelly on my sandwiches but didn’t want to get up 17 seconds earlier to enable jelly spreading time.
3. In 2016 Amy Fish mentioned that she wrote an essay about how to make a sandwich and I’ve been ruminating over the idea since. I’m not sure the end result was worth waiting for, but here it is. An essay on a plate with brown crust crumbs around the edges, less satisfying than it means to be, but certainly adequate.
4. When I think “sandwich” my brain defaults to white bread, which I did not experience on a regular basis until after I left my mothers’ house. (they’re lesbians, don’t criticize my use of the apostrophe. I meant it as is.) When I eat a deli-made sandwich now, I call it a “sandweechee” and it is something although entirely different. It is a very fine meal.
5. Amy Fish’s essay about making a sandwich is a fish-out-of-water story, a wrong-feeling story. I have not read it, yet here I am, writing about sandwiches. I have spent many moments dwelling in a state of wrong-feeling. This is why I always buy white bread. White bread is homogeneity—my highest goal. My jelly-less whole wheat sandwiches of childhood were always wrong, just like I was. This is why I buy whatever peanut butter other people in the house prefer. It’s a small way to fit in.
6. When I was pregnant with my first, I had horrible, constant morning sickness for the first trimester. Eating was the only thing that helped. I ate eight peanut butter sandwiches a day. I left a sandwich on my nightstand for when I woke in the middle of the night. I swore I’d never eat another peanut butter sandwich again.
7. Swearing off sandwiches is like swearing off wearing sneakers in public. You might have good intentions, but sandwiches are too convenient (and sneakers too comfortable) to avoid forever. When I moved to a new job in a new city, and there was no fridge or microwave at work, I once again spread peanut butter on bread, but I made the time to add jelly. I loved my new job and my new city and I loved being 6 months pregnant. I loved eating my sandwich at my desk and reading a good book at lunchtime.
8. My youngest son is hard to impress. “Uncooperative” is often his default, at least when it comes to his stepfather. Until said stepfather invented the waffle iron grilled cheese sandwich. Everything has run a little smoother in the house since then. Coincidence? I think not. The power of the sandwich is mighty.
9. The instructions you were promised in the title:
White bread to overwrite my social pariah-hood, make me someone prettier, someone with shiny, bouncy hair. Someone who laughs between classes, and is liked by all.
Or perhaps, Bread:
A good hearty wheat, with nubs of something fibrous in it, to prove I am an adult with adult sensibilities, no longer seeking reparations for the woundings of my youth.
Spread on one slice of bread only. Smooth is what is on hand, crunchy would answer the question on whether it might still be preferred, or if I have outgrown it. However, crunchy requires a trip to the grocery store, and we know that is unlikely to occur for this one sandwich, since, as stated above, I no longer eat them.
Wipe excess peanut butter on clean, second slice of bread. Use same knife for jelly disbursement. Using two knives shows blatant disrespect for whomever washes dishes in the house, which is most often me.
Nothing wrong with grape. It’s both a classic and I live (at least sometimes) in grape country so to shun the grape is to carve one more mark against an economically disadvantaged area. Side note: We hold a personal resentment against Welch but I won’t get into that here.
Strawberry is also nice.
Blackberry jam is just pretentious and purchased to impress the neighbors.
Diagonal, because I envied children whose mother’s cut theirs every day. Uncut, in honor of my lazy self. Never right down the middle—this is the preferred way of my ex-husband, and we have come too far to admit he was right about anything, even sandwiches.
Copyright © 2021 Lara Lillibridge
Public domain imagery courtesy of Snappygoat.com