It had to be five years ago now that I last volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. I began to be involved when we formed a small group of young Democrats that wasn’t actually THE Young Democrats because we were all out of college but still not yet thirty. We sat around in meetings a lot and we raised some money and we worked on some campaigns and met some really great leaders and future leaders and later a lot of our group would go on to get elected. But this particular summer I suggested that we put our muscle where our mouths were and volunteer to help build a house or something. We decided it would build camaraderie as well as giving us the opportunity to make a difference in a way that didn’t involve debating the merits of two colors vs. three color walk pieces. Besides its Jimmy Carter’s Pet Project so it was something we all felt we could get behind.
So, we showed up for work in old campaign t-shirts ready to help build a house and we did build a house and friendships and there is definite fulfillment involved in putting a nail into a piece of wood. It’s satisfying in its instantaneous-ness. You can stand back and see that you have created and it is good. There are no polls or opinions, no debates, no wondering and waiting until results are in, it’s immediate and I enjoyed it but I’m still glad I don’t do it every day. You can imagine that Habitat for Humanity has a lot of doughy, middle aged, white people standing around feeling good and waxing on about using their hands. These people usually sit in front a computer every day, so swinging a hammer is a great novelty to them. You can scoff at them (us / me) in our altruistic ignorance of an actual hard day’s work if you like and if you do it for a living then you should, but the fact still remains the house is getting built.
I sat on the roof for the third Saturday in a row nailing shingles by hand (crazy I know, ask any roofer and he’ll tell you “Get a freaking nail gun!” but Habitat for Humanity has to appease all those middle class Democrats who want to pound nails with their hands while secretly atoning for their middle classed-ness). Anyway, I sat on the roof with my pouch full of roofing nails laying asphalt shingles in straight lines and hammering my soul into a happy place when I realized my booty was getting pretty hot. Now, we still had a third of the roof to finish and who am I who has a house to live in, to stop roofing because my delicate hiney felt warm? So, I kept on nailing even though it was really hot. I tried to just squat while I pounded, but squating in the heat really puts you in danger of passing out and then what, you roll right off the roof and now you aren’t building anything, so I kept my butt underneath me and just kept going. When we finally broke for lunch I politely excused myself because of a prior commitment and went home to shower the tar off.
The shower was going to be glorious. The cool water on my sunned skin would wash away the aches and pains and dirt of the day. I was going to stand in there for a good 15 minutes before we had to rush away to a family reunion. I flipped the water on, peeled sweaty clothes off, and then stepped into the shower where I immediately felt something bite my butt. I jumped and kinda turned around. I didn’t see a bee so I stepped back into the shower with a little soap on my shoulders and sure enough, I got bit again. This time I felt with my hands for a waterlogged wasp clinging to my hind end or I guess you could describe it more like I frantically swatted and brushed at my own butt while I jumped out of the shower and screamed for Dan. He hurried in and complied with my demand to see what was wrong with my butt.
I bent over the sink. He got close enough to examine my rear. He touched the spot that stung. I yelped. Now, if you’ve ever been in this position then you know it’s not good when the person doing the examining starts to laugh at you. You just panic and your voice rises as you plead
“What?!! What!? Is it a tick!? A thorn? Just tell me what!”
Through stifled laughs he finally said
“You didn’t get stung! You have a blister. You burned your ass today on the roof.”
My immediate feelings of relief that it wasn’t a tick melted into sheepish embarrassment at the thought of willingly submitting my butt to a roof so hot I had second degree burns. I refused the band aid because I suddenly didn’t want to admit that it hurt at all. I mean who doesn’t have enough sense to tell their own ass is cooking? That’s worse than not knowing when to come in out of the rain right?
Ever after that summer whenever I was ticked off you could hear the following exchange.
Dan: “Boy, I bet that really burns you’re ass (snicker)”
Me: “Shut up”
Burtonwood's Burnt Butt BBQ