Once upon a time, an eligible and attractive young man named Ryan attended a weekend conference. Just your average Mennonite conference on a hot summer weekend. Lots of men preached. Old friends met up. Music happened. Good food was served. Young men thought of young women.
A certain John Coblentz and his family also attended the conference. Ryan was very pleased to discover this. Of course he had not come for that reason, it was just—so much the better.
John Coblentz. Hmm.
Ryan recalled with fondness a 16-year-old daughter of John who had captured his interest some years previous. She was now nineteen—“plenty old enough, and you can’t stop love.”
Perhaps some opportunity would present itself?
Presently Ryan ran into a young man named Joe, a casual acquaintance of his who actually hailed from Shari Coblentz’s hometown. Incidentally (no ulterior motives or undue interest going on here), they fell to talking.
[Ryan:] Hey Joe! Good to see you again.
[Joe:] Well Ryan Zook! How’s it going?
[Ryan:] What have you been doing with yourself?
[Joe:] How’s your summer been?
[Ryan:] So. Did you drive down here by yourself?
[Joe, smiling:] No, Shari and I came down together.
[Ryan, coolly, with his hopes crashing and burning around him:] Oh, really? I uh, haven’t heard the news—you guys dating, or…?
[Joe, proud and bashful:] Yeah, yeah. Engaged, actually.
[Ryan, swallowing hard, thinking how long it’s been since he’s seen this girl, telling the corners of his mouth to lift in a smile:] Is that right? Well, congratulations to you.
He was proud ever after that he offered his congratulations before asking his last question, perfectly calmly of course, and tossing it off as a matter of course.
[Ryan:] You mean Shari Coblentz?
[Joe, with a startled look and then a burst of laughter:] No, no! Sherri MILLER!
I confess it: I’ve always been grateful to Joe for his naiveté. I’ve always been privately certain that this fear-of-God moment is what tipped the scale. Ryan asked my father for permission to date me the next day.
Which happened to be July 7.
And he’s been taking me out ever since. It’s been a great eleven years, hon.
Ironic, isn’t it? that to each there was only one Shari in the world?