The wedding arrangements were finally finalized. Buddha agreed to give me away. Trina said that I could borrow Kenny for the role of the ringer bearer. She also volunteered to do my hair and makeup. Wilma agreed to loan me her wedding dress and started teaching Kenny what to do. Dr. Willowby agreed to be Peters best man. I would stay at Chez Willowby the night before the wedding. And Dr. Willowby, would stay at Casa Christopher to make sure Peter behaved himself and didn’t fall back into any of his bachelor habits.
The following day I moved my rolling rattletrap of a car onto Peters driveway. The Valentine Company, the company who originally built the cottage for my late Aunt Heather, wanted to put a dumpster in my driveway to hold the debris from Blue cottage when it was gutted. Jason Valentine was the foreman on this project while his brother PJ had taken over the family business from his father. And Jason was also a sexist pig with the brain of a gnat.
Peter was standing on my left, I was in the center, and Jason was on my right in the living room area. Together we were trying to figure out which part of the interior to demolish first. I wanted to demo the kitchen. Peter and Jason couldn’t decide where to start so the kitchen became the first part of Aunt Heather’s cottage to go. Two of the sledgehammers had twenty-five-pound heads. Jason handed me a really small sledgehammer with a ten-pound head and a girly pink handle. I smiled. Sort of. But inwardly I was screaming foul.
“Can I have a heavier sledgehammer, Jason? I want to do some real damage. I have a real grudge against that kitchen” I asked.
Jason didn’t care for a woman on the job site and there weren’t any on his crew. He just wanted to get the job done then move on to the next.
“Something tells me you really dislike this kitchen. What do you have against it?” said Jason chuckling.
“This was never my kitchen. This was my aunt Heather’s idea of the ideal kitchen. And, in a way, I suppose it was. For her. And maybe it was when your father first designed it. But times change and so do tastes. So can I please have a heavier sledgehammer? I want to see wall studs and it’ll take forever working with a puny little ten-pound sledgehammer. I could get more done if I hit it with a Q-tip. “
Jason thought about my request when Peter started chuckling. I was beginning to wonder if this was going to be a battle of the sexes.
Peter turned towards Jason and in a slow gravelly voice told him what he thought of my request.
“She’s got a point, Jason. The kitchen will be her domain and she should have the right to smash the old kitchen to bits if she wishes. I’m all for the idea. Plus I’m curious to see what she can do.” At least Peter was on my side.
Jason thought about the request some more. Plus he was reminded of something his father once said to him.
“Ok. But I’ve got some misgivings about this but like my daddy said “Always , always make sure the customer can handle what they want to do.” The next sledgehammer weighs as much as ours. Do think you think you can handle it, Cassie?”
“Oh ya, sure. Bring it on.” Bravado and RedBull. Great combo.
Jason held the sledgehammer by the head and handed the handle to me. As soon as he let go of the head it plummeted to the ground with a resounding thud. Not exactly what I had in mind. Then I looked at the way Peter was holding his. His left hand was on the handle directly below the head and his right hand was at the far end of the handle with his head was directly above the center of the handle. I reeled it in slowly and positioned my hands the same way. That felt better but my arms felt like we’re going to pop out of their sockets. But there was no way on gods green earth I was going to let Jason know that.
“Very impressive. I didn’t think you could hold it. But the hard put will be swinging it. Let’s start on the shelving and work our way down to the counter-tops. But before anybody goes all HGTV on me let’s all swing at the same time and at the same target. I don’t want to get hurt. Peter, you go to the far end and I’ll help Mrs. Christopher out.” When Jason fouled up my name that was the only time I liked him.
I almost walked out of the kitchen but there was no way I was going to let this clown think I couldn’t play in his sandbox.
Peter turned the sledgehammer around and started poking at the shelving with the handle. Most of it came down relatively easily. But one part was being stubborn. And I was not going to let some forty-year-old shelving get in the way of me destroying an old kitchen. So I raised the sledgehammer as high as I could to really take a wack at it. The shelving came down in pieces but I couldn’t stop the hammer. Inertia and gravity conspired to bring the hammerhead crashing down onto the cheesy Formica countertop. A piece broke off and hit Peter in the face. He was dazed by the Formica and began to stumble about. I dropped my hammer on the floor and dragged him into the bathroom. I sat him down, put a cold towel on his neck and proceeded to clean the area where the Formica had hit him. There was no broken skin and no blood but Peter was going to have a helluva of a black eye. Just then Jason grabbed me by the arm, yelled “yer outta here” like a frustrated baseball umpire and pulled me towards the door. Peter he was sitting on the edge of the bathroom tub shaking like a leaf. I must have screamed or something because Peter ran past me, grabbed Jason by the front of his throat, and threw Jason through the front screen door. “Consider yourself fired. Get your things and get off the property.” I soon discovered that neither of us liked Jason. Peter decided to phone PJ Valentine before Jason had a chance to make up some story that was totally erroneous. PJ apologized for his brothers’ condescending attitude and from now on he would handle matters personally.
The next day PJ appeared on-site and on-time – something his brother didn’t do. When we asked what his given name was he simply said he was Peter Junior. Hence the name PJ. We picked up where we left off the previous day only I stayed with the ten-pound sledgehammer. We made short work of the remaining shelving. Peter and PJ took simultaneous swings at the undersides of the counter-tops which popped up like toast. PJ asked me if I had any significant frustrations. My answer was yes and he directed me to take out my frustrations on the wood paneling. The ten-pound sledgehammer fit perfectly between the wall studs and I made more holes in the paneling than a termite on drugs. I discovered I could also kick it down. The kitchen was soon a shadow of its former self. Dragging out the debris was far from luxurious but it felt good to have made some progress on Casa Christopher Version 2.
I parked my girly pink sledgehammer against the wall and asked PJ what else I could do.
“Well, you could rip that paneling off the front of the living area. But if you really want a challenge you could clobber the daylights out the old electrical panel. Just let me check the electricity is off first.” PJ checked then gave me the OK to proceed. “No juice is flowing into any part of Blue Cottage. Have at it and don’t hold back.” Knocking the old panel off the wall was way too easy. The paneling at the front of the living area was more of a challenge. I had to poke through the paneling but not the exterior of the house. Once I did that I discovered why Aunt Heather had so many problems with leaks. Some of the shorter studs had collapsed and would have to be replaced. Others weren’t nailed in properly. After I had removed most of the paneling on the interior of the cottage PJ directed Peter and me to put our sledgehammers down.
“I think both of you have put in a lot of sweat equity today. Cassie, if you weren’t already gainfully employed I’d be tempted to offer you a job. Tomorrow, if you feeling up to it, I’d really appreciate it if you could take down the paneling in the master bedroom, the guest bedroom, and the paneling in the hall. If you do all that I think we’ll be a week ahead of schedule.”
“Now I like the sound of that. I’ll see m’lady is in tip-top shape tomorrow. What time do you want us here PJ?” said Peter.
“How’s seven in the morning sound?” said PJ in a nonchalant, relaxed manner while struggling to take off his work gloves. When he looked up he started to laugh so hard I was concerned he might break something.
When PJ looked at our faces he said our jaws were slack and our eyes had bugged out. I couldn’t even imagine getting up before the sun rose. Peter muttered some mild obscenity to let PJ know he was not a morning person.
“Sorry about that. I couldn’t resist. Since you’re both non-union why don’t you show up when you feel like it. I’m sure I can find something for both of you. But my father wanted me to relate something to you, Cassie. When my father was building Blue Cottage for your aunt she frequently met him and his crew with coffee and snacks. I think your aunt was something of an early riser. She frequently met him in the drive. He thought you might want to know that. Now, both of you get out. Now! skedaddle.”
Peter and I ran back to Casa Christopher. When I got into the bathroom I took off what I was wearing and put it all in the hamper. Then I jumped into the shower and felt the water beat the beads of sweat off me. Peter was just a few seconds behind me. He still had yet to fully recover from cancer and his strength was not what he wanted to be. When he finally joined me in the shower he started shampooing my head. When he finished with that he started soaping up my tummy and came up with a wonderfully well-timed case of WHD – wandering hand disease. After our shower (which was much longer than your average shower) we simply put on robes, sat at the breakfast room table and wrote our vows.
That weekend we finally tied the knot. I actually became Mrs. Peter James Christopher. Getting married is wonderful, but at the same time, it can really be emotionally draining. So I’m really glad I had a small simple wedding. I was so nervous I didn’t catch a lot of details so here are what I would call “the highlights.”
1. As I was walking down the aisle I became more nervous with every step. And I noticed my bouquet, was a great yellow blur. I wasn’t about to pass out – I was shaking like a leaf! Peter tried to steady my hand but it just didn’t work.
1. Peter stood at attention for some reason but if you looked at him at just a certain angle you’d swear he had something stuck up his behind.
2. When Buddha gave me away he did it so loudly it shook the rafters. “I represent her parents and THEY DO.”
Peter was just as nervous as I was. When Peter was supposed to take my ring from Kenny he froze. Mr. Lemay tried clearing his throat and that didn’t work. Kenny tried tugging on Peters sleeve and that didn’t work. Soon Kenny was frustrated and didn’t know what to do. Peter didn’t snap out of it until Kenny said: “She isn’t waiting for a bus so do you want her or not?”. That’s when Peter snapped out of his haze and recited his vows…
Cassie, I want to be with you always just as you are. I choose you above all others to share my life in marriage. I love you for yourself, and I want you to become all that you can be. I promise to honor this pledge as long as I live. I ask everyone present to witness that I take you as my partner in marriage.
At the reception, Peter gave me the best present of all, well sort of. He got in touch with my parents and he gave me a letter from them to me. All that was in it were the words “Can we start over?” and a phone number. Any children that come out of this marriage should at least get a chance to know their grandparents. I don’t know how he did it but he gave me my parents back.
And just in case you’re wondering how the honeymoon went well that’s another chapter altogether.
…is there more? You bet!
Check next week!