Wednesday, October 23, 2013


There are certain things in life that I am uniquely qualified to handle. Need a DJ? I'm your guy. Want to know 13 different methods of varying legality to download a song? Call me. Overcome by the urge to lose badly at Pop Culture Edition Trivial Pursuit? I'm here to help. But when it comes to pretty much anything else in life, I'm an abject failure. Now I've discovered another thing I'm decidedly bad at.

Dateline: Tuesday. It began like most tales from my life: on the couch. Tired from a busy day at work, I had just plopped down for some late night TV time before bed. Just a carefree, gentle drift into slummmmberrrr... and then I looked up and saw the pterodactyl.

Things got blurry after that. A cat hissed. Someone screamed... probably me. A coffeetable got knocked over. Hyperventilation. Next thing I knew, I was standing in my kitchen, holding a pillow for dear life, and trying my absolute best to make sense of the previous fifteen seconds.

Was I awake? YES. Was I under the influence of hallucinogens? NO, unless someone spiked my Raisin Bran. Had I just been attacked by a prehistoric bird in my living room? YES. Well, maybe. Okay, so perhaps it wasn't a pterodactyl, and maybe it hadn't attacked me so much as flown around my ceiling. Come to think of it, I hadn't exactly seen feathers.

It was a bat. And it was flying around in my house. And I don't seem to recall inviting it in.

I am an educated person with a liberal arts background, and therefore I know a few things about bats. They are mammals. Their poo is called guano. They navigate using sonar. Oh, and they are hellspawn winged-rat atrocities with a wanton bloodlust for human flesh. I carefully assessed the situation and implemented an immediate action plan, which was to run outside yelling something that sounded like "EEEEEEEEEEE!"

I had enjoyed my time as a homeowner, but that was all over now. My house had a new landlord, and he was furry and airborn. There was nothing left to do but find a hotel and start life anew when I saw my neighbor's kitchen light flick on. I bet he wishes now he hadn't come down for that midnight snack.

"RUSS!" I whisper-yelled. "HELP! I HAVE BATS IN MY BELFRY!"

Note for the future: This is probably NOT the phrase you should utter when you'd like your neighbor to take you seriously whilst wandering into their yard sock-footed at 12:03 a.m. holding a pillow like a weapon. Luckily, Russ was MY neighbor and this sort of thing was par for the course.

Minutes later, he and I were cautiously bat-hunting our way through my house. For an hour straight, we searched walls, shelves, nooks, and crannies, but nary a bat, vampire, or Ben Affleck was to be found. I did the only thing I could think of: whine about it on Facebook. It didn't take long for friends to start chiming in with advice.

Chief among them was to "open all your doors and windows and turn off all the lights." Which I presume would allow me to forget about the bat because I'd be too distracted by all the spiders, mayflies, feral cats, serial rapists, and whatever else might decide to creepy-crawl on in while my castle gates are open to all of nature. No thank you.

If you're unafraid of bats, talk to me again AFTER you've Googled them. If you're lucky, you'll find sentences such as, "If the bat was present in the room of a sleeping person, the bat should be captured and given to government officials for rabies testing." It was clear I would never be sleeping again. All I could think to do was grab the cats, seal us in the bedroom, and hope the bat was on the other side of the door. Then it was a pleasant night of staring at the ceiling and jumping with every creak of the house.

The next morning, there was no sign of my nocturnal friend. It was time to call backup. My dad can do anything, so that must include hand-to-hand combat with flying mammals, no? He met me at my door, butterfly net in hand. Two hours later, though, he proclaimed my house bat-free. Had I dreamt the whole thing up Donnie Darko style? But just as my parents were heading back home, my friend Dianna came over and immediately asked an important question: "Does your ceiling fan normally have ears?"

Sure enough, there was my batty buddy, sticking his evil little pointy ears out to keep tabs on us all. A quick phone call brought dad back in a hurry, and he and Dianna performed an impressive catch-and-release while my mom and I waited downstairs by the door. You know, to open it and let the bat out, and NOT so that we could run for our lives. That's our story and we're sticking to it.

I guess some people are uniquely qualified to rescue bats and return them to the outdoors, while others are uniquely qualified to flee in terror. I now know which camp I'm in -- I believe the fans of Twilight call it "Team Jacob." At least werewolves probably KNOCK before invading your house.

(In all seriousness, though, we were probably ALL pretty stupid this week. Bats really ARE a prime carrier of rabies, and since I didn't summon a professional to grab my bat buddy and assess its health, I now get to spend the next month watching my cats VERY carefully. Don't fool around with bats, kids. We've all got interesting life stories, but I'd like yours to have a happier ending than Old Yeller.)

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