The Pavilion

Whenever there is something to be built, men strap on tool belts and demonstrate their innate engineering ability. Power tools are brought out for admiration by other men, tape measures are bandied about, and sometimes there is even spitting. Building is a man's craft, a man's life. Thus, when Renaissance Resorts (now Berkshire Vista) owners offered to provide the materials for a large Pavilion in the Ghetto, the Men of Renaissance sprang into action to offer both the labor and raw engineering expertise necessary to construct this.

Well, most of the men sprang into action. There were actually two or three of us who openly admitted that we couldn't build a sandwich, never mind a Pavilion, and while we would be happy to lift anything that needed to be lifted, paint anything that needed to be painted, or otherwise assist the Real Men in their heroic tasks, entrusting us with power tools could easily lead to Forlorn Widows and Nasty Lawsuits. It was decided that this was Good Policy, and we were given token hammers and told to Stay Out Of The Way.

In due course foundations were dug, cement was poured, and the announcement was made that on the next weekend we would begin construction. In anticipation of the manly work to come, I actually went out and bought a new hammer, which seemed to amuse my wife considerably.

On the Saturday morning following, I was up at my usual 6:00 AM. After a quick breakfast, I pulled on shorts and a tee shirt (reasoning that splintery lumber and nude skin would not mix well), picked up my shiny new hammer, and headed out to the construction site.

Of course, no one else was up.

Bob, who had hauled all the lumber and other material to the site, was standing on his deck, sipping coffee and apparently mentally running through the days work ahead. I waved at him, and walked to the site, where I kicked the foundations, and tried to look Manly standing there with my shiny hammer and not a clue as to what would happen next.

Eventually Bob walked over and told me what would happen. Unfortunately, I couldn't understand most of what he was talking about, what I could understand I couldn't visualize, and what little I could visualize was obviously not within my capabilities. The shiny hammer in my hand was beginning to feel more like a symbol of impotence than a manly tool for building Pavilions.

However, soon enough some Real Men arrived, wearing tool belts filled with tools that had actually been used in the course of real projects, and some of them had large power tools that weren't even shiny, and I was mightily impressed. One of them examined my hammer, handed me something much more ancient, and gruffly said "Use this". He seemed embarrassed about something, but I don't know what.

Interestingly, some of the men didn't seem concerned about the interaction of splinters and nude skin. Although most had tool belts strapped over at least shorts, there were pure nudists to be seen. That one of them seemed to be intent on operating a power saw remains a thought that still sends shivers down my spine.

The initial stages of construction were simply to erect large timbers on the foundations, drill holes through them, and square them off appropriately to the other uprights. As the intelligent part of this seemed to be better handled by others, I concentrated on lifting, carrying, and twisting when told to.

The next part involved running connections between the tops of the beams. I am a bit afraid of heights, and again decided that I would be happy to remain on the ground and pass things up to the men above.

By this time, most of the camp was up and about, and we attracted a fair crowd of on-lookers and cheerleaders. Apparently a lot of women really enjoy watching nude and semi-nude men working with tools, sweating in the sun. I'm sure that the opportunity to admire our manly muscles, and our superior tool using ability is quite a turn on, although I do wonder why there was so much laughter and giggling.

Someone set up a coffee and water station, running an extension cord from Carla's deck to a nearby table, so we had hot coffee and cold water all morning.

As we had plenty of stay-on-the-ground and pass stuff workers, Bob soon assigned me the job of painting rafter stripping. I felt I could handle that, and as it seemed relatively safe, I decided to shed my clothes before laying out the first stack for painting.

I have a friend who paints his house every year. I swear he could do it in a tuxedo. Not me. Within minutes I was speckled with black paint (water based, fortunately), had it all over my hands, and from wiping sweat, swatting at bugs, and just general scratching, good sized blotches everywhere else.

It was good, mindless work, however. Rich soon joined me, and his wife also chipped in, and we slopped a lot of paint on a lot of wood while the Real Men tied the pavilion together.

In the meantime, a number of people had been preparing a luncheon feast for the workers. We had brought up two roasts, and Linda had been cooking those most of the morning, other people had brought bread, and salad, and they were setting up tables on our deck. I had filled a cooler with beer and soda, and someone else donated another case.

I don't think I have ever tasted anything quite as good as that roast beef on french bread. Linda had smothered it in onions and other magical stuff, and cooked it just the other side of pink, and it was just incredible. Thanks to the generosity of everyone, we had plenty enough food for everyone, including the spectators, and after a long morning of hard work, this was really great.

And then, of course, back to work. The big rafters and cross pieces (don't ask me what they are called!) were going into place quickly, and there was plenty of lifting and steadying to be done for those of us on the ground crew.

Debbie had been snapping photographs all day, but now that there was some structure to support her, she went right up the ladders, climbed out on to the beams, and took more photos. I wonder if anyone down below got a picture of this tall Viking perched completely naked at the top of the roof, merrily snapping pictures of all of us.

We worked fairly late that night, and enjoyed a chili dinner put together by another group of volunteers. The spirit of cooperative effort that a project like this brings out in people is simply wonderful. We were all tired, and there were banged thumbs, and minor cuts and bruises, but most of all there were smiles.

The next day got most of the heavy work done, and started on the tedious work of laying down the strips we had painted the day before. Actually, I think part of that was started the day before, because I remember handing still wet strips to someone. Anyway, that part went very slowly, and was probably not half done before we left for our normal lives.

The next weekend saw the strips completed, and work begun on laying the plastic roof panels into place. This was also slow work. At some point, I actually conquered my fear of heights long enough to go up on the roof and nail something into place. Of course, by then there was a lot more to hang on to. More Manly Men walked from beam to beam: I crawled.

We did have one accident. Lloyd stepped on a furring strip and went right through, scratching and bruising his leg and side very badly. He is, however, a Man and a Trooper, and insisted that he could continue working. A good thing, too, as the number of volunteers had dwindled substantially by then. Not due to lack of enthusiasm, but people do have to get back home, and some have to leave earlier than others, and by three o'clock Sunday, the workers were darn few.

At the very end, it was once again just Bob and me. We were close to done, and Bob really wanted to be done, so he was still up on the roof, screwing down panels, and I was still down below, handing him whatever he needed. Dana had left a few minutes before, but with the promise that he would finish up during the week whatever Bob couldn't get to.

Eventually, of course, we had to leave too.

When we returned the following Friday night, people were celebrating under the mostly complete pavilion. There was some side trim that would need to be done, and the dirt floor would need to be graded, but basically it was finished.

Unfortunately, that weekend brought rain, and we discovered that the roof leaked, and leaked very badly. As the panels were all installed on foam insulation, and screwed down to it, we assumed that either some screws had been left out, or that perhaps they were not tightened enough. As this was closing weekend, it would have to wait till spring.

I can see that Pavilion in my mind even now, the grey plastic roof panels gleaming in the sun. It will be a focal point, the center of Spaghetto and other activities. It is something the men of Renaissance built with bare hands and bare butts. I lifted, painted, steadied, nailed, cut or did something to a lot of the pieces of it, so part of it is always "mine", too.

Those of you who visit Renaissance this summer will undoubtedly stand underneath our pavilion at some point or another. When you do, look up and notice the black furring strips. I painted most of those. Look in one corner, and you might notice the repair where Lloyd fell through. Look at a plywood panel at the fire end, and you'll see hammer dimples from my poor aim.

And if it's raining, I hope we have it fixed by then :-)

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