You’re kidding, you have the same first name?!?

“I love being married. It’s so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life” — Rita Rudner

My name is Shawn, an unusual name for a girl, in my experience. I have been called many different names, such as, Shawna, Shannon, Sharon and many others. When I turned 18, as most teenagers’ feel, I wanted to get out of the house and get as far away from my parents as possible. I put in for a number of jobs around the country and received 2 job offers; one was the Grand Teton National Park and the other was from the Grand Canyon National Park. I determined the Grand Teton’s were just not far enough away and chose to take the job at the Grand Canyon.

While I moved as far away as possible, I was extremely shy. I can sometimes make friends easily, but when it came to dating, my shyness made it horribly painful. Guy friends, no problem, in fact when I was working on the food line one night, there were no customers so I was standing with my arms crossed. One of the cooks came out of the kitchen and looked at me. He instantly put his hands over his crotch and walked back into the kitchen. I walked back to the kitchen to ask him why, to which he responded, “You looked like you were about to kick someone in the balls, and it wasn’t going to be me!” We both laughed and were friends after that.

After the end of summer, I transferred from Food & Beverage and became a Cashier. Due to the nature of the business, many people came and went. One night, a friend, who was also from Oregon, came into the cafeteria and came through my line. He told me there was a going away party for him that night, and that he was going home the next day. I was the closing cashier that night, and since he had asked me to stop by I decided to go over and at least say good bye. Sadly, I was still wearing my ugly uniform consisting of gray pants and a white with red pin striped shirt. I walked through the woods between the restaurant and the dorms; the party was in full swing in the parking lot of the dorm.

I walked up to the group that Jamie was in and a guy with him caught my attention. He was wearing jeans and a shirt, with a leather jacket. He was also wearing sunglasses even though it was late at night. He was carrying a liter sized beer mug, with ice and a straw and a holding gallon bottle of Jim Beam on his shoulder to pour into the mug, which he did regularly. This was my first impression of the man who is now my husband. I said good bye to Jamie and not being a fan of crowds and embarrassingly dressed in that ugly uniform, I left shortly after.

To understand what happened next, a little explanation is needed. A big joke around the park with the employees was to steal name tags. The name tags only had the employee’s first name engraved on them; it was even better when the tag belonged to a manager.

My schedule as a cashier was as a floater; which had me covering all the restaurants in the park over different days. One day I was working at Yavapai cafeteria again, and the guy I saw at the party came out to get a drink from the soda fountain in my line. When he walked past he noticed my name tag and started yelling at me that I had stolen his name tag and that he was going to write me up if I didn’t give it back. I kept trying to tell him that it was my name and that I had not stolen his name tag, but he wouldn’t believe me until I pulled out my park employee ID.

Once he had proof that I wasn’t lying, he felt bad and bought me lunch and asked me out on a date. I accepted, but I was so nervous and had never really dated, my roommate made me go. When I showed up for our date, I was wearing a long print skirt with a pale green t-shirt, sandals. My husband later told me that I looked like a virgin sacrifice.

Our date consisted of a drive to Mather Point, there was a full moon and we just walked and talked. We started seeing each other after that and as they say, the rest was history.

Now, every time I go to a new doctor or fill out some form that asks for my spouses name, I have to explain that my husband and I have the same first name and that “yes, it is spelled the same”. Everyone I talk to loves to hear the story.

Today marks our 23rd wedding anniversary, which makes the perfect time to share.

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