Monsoon Wedding

It’s been twenty years. I can talk about it now. In fact, I can even laugh. But trust me, when it happened I didn’t exactly see the humor.

In 1986 the two major events in Joyce’s and my lives converged: the building of our Vineyard house and our wedding.

By early spring, the house was framed and progressing nicely, so we asked our contractor if he thought it would be done in time for our wedding in October; we thought it would be great to have our reception there. He didn’t see any problem with the plan, so we forged ahead.

We were young and in love.

And idiots.

We sent out invitations and decided that, weather permitting, we would exchange our vows at Lambert’s Cove Beach. I had the whole scenario worked out: As we finished the ceremony and turned to face family and friends, a bagpiper atop a nearby dune would play “Lady of Spain.” Not that Joyce is Spanish – I’m just a sucker for juxtaposition.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a bagpiper. Initially, the Scottish Society was enthusiastic, but when we got to the “Lady of Spain” part, they got a bit balky.

Given the newly raised stakes for completing our house on schedule, we kept a close eye on construction (what little there was) over the summer. There was a building boom going on in the mid-eighties and our contractor seemed to be over-extended, a condition we too found ourselves in as the overages escalated to the point that we found it necessary to cut back on certain items we had been rather looking forward to.

Like floors.

Given the choice between having a hardwood floor or, say, a toilet, floors lose. Besides, it was just a summer house; we could paint over the plywood decking – it would be funky, it would be fine.

Come September, we were finally making progress, and it looked like we might even be able to pull the whole thing off. But then, a week before the wedding, we got a call from the contractor.

“Bad news; the doors are back-ordered.”

“Well, what are we going to do?”

“How about plastic sheeting?”

Some would have seen this as a setback, but Joyce and I had promised ourselves not to let any construction snafus spoil the occasion, even though the location of our reception was quickly shifting from a dream house to a job site.

“All right,” I replied, “but just make sure that you paint the floor so it looks halfway decent, okay?”

“No problem.”

There were monsoon rains for an entire week, but as we arrived on the Island the night before the wedding, the storm clouds mercifully lifted. We drove directly to the house, and in a word, it looked fantastic. Joyce squeezed my hand and said, “Hurry up, let’s go inside!”

We leapt from the car and immediately sank up to our ankles in mud; the yard looked like the set from M*A*S*H. The only way up to the house was Indiana Jones–style, over a series of two-by-eights that had been placed on cinder blocks leading precariously up a hill to our front door. I could only imagine some of the older aunts and uncles, after a little bubbly, trying to walk the plank. I made a mental note to get plenty of film.

Up until now I thought we’d been handling the whole situation quite well. We’d imposed a ridiculously pressurized situation upon ourselves, but in spite of numerous setbacks, Joyce and I were still speaking. What came next, however, was a true test.

As we brushed aside the plastic sheeting that passed for our front door and stepped over the threshold into our new home, the first thing we noticed was not the beautiful fireplace that had been recently completed. No, the first thing we noticed was that our feet were stuck to the floor.
True to his word, the contractor had painted the decking. Unfortunately, he must have completed the job just as we were getting off the ferry. The paint was the consistency of glue. And it was at this point that my whole composure thing flew out the plastic-covered window.

I drove directly to the contractor’s house and we had what might best be described as an animated discussion. Fortunately, the end result was that he put several large commercial blowers around the house, and by the next morning, through some minor miracle, the floor was dry enough to walk on.
In fact, the whole wedding turned out to be a huge success. The rain held off and the ceremony out on the beach was fun and beautiful and moving. About as moving as a wedding ceremony can be without having “Lady of Spain” played on a bagpipe.

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