Thursday, February 11, 2010

Notes from the Bat Cave

It started out as a blood-curdling scream in the pre-dawn darkness.
I was, like most sensible folks, still asleep after a late-night basketball game the evening before. But the sudden scream from my partner in crime woke me up in a hurry.
Me: “What’s wrong?”
She: “There’s a bat in our bedroom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Note: there are not enough exclamation points available in this space to adequately denote the urgency of this statement.)
She had been heading into the bathroom off our bedroom when she noticed what looked to be one of my black socks lying on the floor. Luckily, she did not stop to pick it up or kick it towards the laundry room, or this might be a story with a different, unhappier ending, because as she stepped over the sock it revealed itself not as a carelessly discarded piece of laundry, but as a full-fledged flying rodent.
Actually, bats aren’t rodents at all, but, instead, the only mammal capable of true flight. They just look like ugly little rats with wings. And that’s enough to make them absolutely abhorrent to approximately 99.9999999% of the population, including you-know-who. While I’m not totally terrified of the hairy little critters, I confess that my interest is limited to a distant viewing of them as they snag mosquitoes in the summer sky. Actually, I don’t know anyone personally who cares to get up close and personal with the creatures called Chiroptera, but I’m betting they are the same guys who spent prom night happily dissecting a frog on their moms’ kitchen tables.
But, by the time I was fully awake and ready for battle, the unwelcome visitor had taken flight and disappeared.
In our bedroom.
She dressed for school crouched over with a bath towel on her head, while I was unusually cautious while digging through my sock drawer. With a car in the shop, we were traveling together that morning, so there was no time to conduct the immediate, thorough search that the situation deserved, but I promised I would try to find and remove the elusive object of my spouse’s dread before she returned home that evening. As I had a game to cover and would be gone that night, I had to caution her:
Me: “What if I don’t find him while you’re gone?”
She: “I’m not going upstairs again until you do.”
Thoughts of coming home that night to find my beloved huddling downstairs on the kitchen floor with a dish towel on her head drove me to get right at it when I returned home later that morning.
There are a lot of tools for us professional bat-getters to choose from. A tennis racket is effective, but cruel, as very few bats survive a forehand smash. A laundry basket is a good, humane choice, but is unwieldy and provides little guarantee that a captured bat will stay that way. I finally decided on the renowned broom/towel combo, which is, I believe, the favored method of many bat-fanciers. I used the broom to poke around on top of the ceiling fan, behind the radiator and under the bed.
Suddenly, the phone rang in the small, low-ceilinged sitting room next to our bedroom. It was an old friend, looking for some thoughts on a spiritual matter. I was flattered to be asked, and we settled into what turned out to be a lengthy chat.
And of course, that was a clear signal to batty-boy that it was time to emerge from his hiding place and stretch his wings a bit.
I’m here to tell you that it’s a bit difficult to focus on much of anything while being dive-bombed by a mini-Dracula. I didn’t dare open the door to escape the room for fear that he would get loose into the high-ceilinged hallway and the rest of the house. I didn’t want to interrupt my friend, either.
“Hey, Bob, could you (zoom) stop talking about your (zoom) immortal soul for a minute? There’s a bat in here that’s (zoom) trying to part my (zoom) hair.”
It just didn’t seem like the kind of thing a real spiritual advisor would say.
So, instead, I sat on the floor, listened, replied as best I could...and ducked.
We finished the conversation a few minutes later, and it was a simple matter to toss the towel portion of the broom/towel combo and gently end the air show. I used the broom to shove the towel-wrapped flyer out the door that leads onto a small upstairs porch, where I gave him his freedom.
End of story, except for a lingering thought:
I couldn’t help wondering if my little friend might of been there to provide me a vivid, not-so-subtle commentary on my true ability to offer advice of a spiritual nature. I mean, he really was flying around like a bat out of hell.
“Naw,” I thought. “It was just a coincidence.”
But you gotta wonder.

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