Shantel and Cletus
How We Met
Cletus and I met at musical auditions for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat during our junior year of high school. I had stayed after school rather than going home. I was sat at a table in the lobby reading a book when one of my friends walked by and said “Hey.” When I looked up to reply, she wasn’t alone. There was a boy with her who I hadn’t met. She introduced him to me and he immediately invited me to walk with them. This boy was Cletus. That day we ended up sitting in the cafeteria of our school talking for over an hour about our lives. In that moment I was completely captivated by him. I spent the following days and weeks doing anything I could to see him and talk to him. I had learned he went to my church and sang in the youth choir so I had made sure I was at youth mass. Christmas break came and went and it was time to go back to school. Cletus had gotten the lead of Joseph in the musical and I was cast as his brother Zebulen. This meant I would be seeing a lot more of him. I was having a particularly bad day at practice and he had asked me about it. I told him I was alright but he gave me his number and said that if I was ever feeling down I could talk to him. That night I did text him and we found out we had a mutual like for each other. We talked more over the next month until he asked me to go to the AFJROTC Military Ball with him. A week before the Military Ball he asked me to be his girlfriend and the rest is history.
We dated all throughout high school and experienced many things together: proms, military balls, graduation, getting accepted to college, dropping out of college, a spontaneous cardiac arrest, being broken down on the side of the road in WV with no cell phone battery, tons of trips, support during a multitude of plays, musicals, choir performances and voice recitals and so much more.
Looking back, we have experienced so much of our teenage lives with each other. My favorite phrase at the beginning of our relationship was “Don’t get too attached. This is a high school relationship and probably won’t last long.” I have never been more proud to be wrong about anything else. Recently Cletus bought his first car and, along with one of our close friends, we got our first apartment. We have battled the challenges and adventures of becoming adults together and we strive to have our love for each other reflect the love that Jesus has shown to us.
How He Asked
It was two weeks before my birthday and we were at the Renaissance Festival. It has been a tradition for a while now that my family, close friends and I go to the Renaissance Festival every year close to my birthday to celebrate. My entire immediate family, Cletus’s mom, and a few of my mom’s friends were going this year and I was so excited as it had been a while since everyone was able to go together. The past few years Cletus and I had kept talking about dressing up for the festival but usually chickened out, so this year we went through with it. Cletus dressed up as the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, aka my favorite Doctor from Doctor Who. I was more skeptical of this dressing up thing than he was so I did the least I could get away with. It was raining, not just a light rain, but an absolute down pour all morning long while we were getting ready. It didn’t stop the entire hour long drive there. Once we parked the car to walk into the festival area the sun had come out and it stopped raining. Once we were inside the festival, everyone went their separate ways which was odd to me since typically we all spend time together. I was slightly annoyed but I went along with it. We were to meet my family at 1:00 at the Kissing Bridge to take pictures since everyone was together this year. However, I was not about this plan. I was getting very annoyed that I didn’t have free reign over the day to do what I wanted to do. I have since apologized for giving Cletus such a hard time that day. 1:00 rolled around and Cletus took me to the Kissing Bridge but no one else was there yet. I was now exceptionally angry because I wanted to get on with my day. Cletus was leading me to the bridge but I did not want to get on because I was concerned about where everyone else was. Once they showed up, no one was walking onto the bridge so I figured something was up. Cletus and I had many a conversation about what this day would be like when it eventually happened and it was well known between the two of us that my best friend would be present. She was not present. Instead, she was in Ohio at the zoo. So, instead of walking onto the bridge I argued with Cletus for 25 seconds about why she wasn’t there. My mother eventually yelled at me to walk onto the bridge and I wish I could remember exactly what Cletus said to me, but we got engaged!
Once the proposal had ended and I turned around to see everyone, my best friend literally came out of the bushes in the forest where her, another of our mutual friends and Cletus’s mom had been hiding for over half an hour to take pictures. When I saw her all I could manage to say was, “But, you’re supposed to be at the zoo!” I am head-over-heels to go on this adventure of life with the person I love the most. I still feel like a little girl planning their wedding for their future husband and I wouldn’t have it any other way.