Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bat-Splat Incident of 2008

It happens every year around Halloween. The days grow shorter and the evenings cooler, the early symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder warn of winter’s approach, and a bat finds its way into our rural home – always in the dead of night.

It happened again this week.

It was around 1 a.m. when I heard the familiar sound pass over the bed.


I slipped out of the room so I wouldn’t wake my wife. She has a phobia of small flying mammals. She doesn’t think I noticed how she used to leave the living room every time the flying-monkeys appeared on The Wizard of Oz. Me? … I just closed my eyes.

Closing the bedroom door I stood in the hallway, listening.

Whoosh! (Good! No repeat of the bat-in-the-bedroom incident of 2005.)

After turning on every light in the house, I grabbed my bat-dueling weapon of choice, the kitchen broom, and for the next twenty minutes lunged, thrust, parried, and sliced the air, in a fruitless attempt to disable the trespasser.

By now, I had knocked over a lamp and upset the fireplace tools, the dog was barking, and my wife and two teenage sons were up.

As soon as my wife saw me with the broom, she dove to the living room floor and lay, face down, screaming – Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!

Please understand – living in a rural area where the bugs are more abundant, a bit larger, and far less courteous than city-bugs, we appreciate the value of bats as insect control technicians. We once tried opening doors and shooing a bat out, which somehow resulted in us having two bats in the house (The twin-bat-incident of 2006). We’ve even put a bat-house in a nearby tree, to give the bats a place to roost when they’re not out on mosquito patrol.

But even the best neighbor is likely to be threatened (or worse) if he barges in and wakes up the whole household at one o’clock in the morning.

Like many before it, this bat was taking advantage of our home’s bat-friendly floor plan. Open doorways allow an unobstructed loop through the house. Ideal for late-night flight maneuvers - a bat’s squeak-less equivalent to the hamster wheel!

So as my wife lay at one end of the living room, with her hands covering her head, we men went to work to vanquish our opponent.

Working as a team, we had nearly winged the intruder a couple of times before the house grew ominously still. The bat, as they often do, had landed somewhere… to rest a bit… and play with our minds.

The boys initiated a nervous search while I stood watch. This offered the first opportunity for me to have a good look at my sons.

Our oldest, had a baseball glove on one hand and a tennis racquet in the other. His younger brother was wearing a pair of safety goggles, and carrying a hockey stick.

I thought to veto the use of the hockey stick, but the bat had filed a revised flight-plan, accepted clearance for takeoff, and initiated a second sortie.

The boys took off in opposite directions, only to meet abruptly in a two-teen pile-up in the hallway. While they were busy extricating themselves from the knot of lanky limbs and sports equipment, the opportunity to end the battle came my way.

I was in the living room when I heard the whisper of wings approaching from behind me.

Tightly gripping the broom handle with both hands, I swung and nailed the bat with a sharp backhand as it was passing on my left. I watched it sail across the room, fighting to break out of its new trajectory.

What I hadn’t realized was that my wife was now standing behind me across the room.


She took one hard on the cheekbone…. for the family.

By then, the boys had untangled themselves and emerged from the hallway.

The oldest, bending over the now motionless invader on the floor, declared, “Bat’s dead!”

The younger boy approached my wife, “Are you okay Mom?” he asked, “Uh, you’ve got a little something….” (He gingerly pointed to her left cheek).

You see, my wife hadn’t moved since face-fielding the bat, except to open one eye, which hadn’t yet blinked and was leveled at me.

I was caught in one of those panic-stricken moments that you read about, when someone meets a grizzly in the forest, or a large truck is bearing down on them in a pedestrian crosswalk. My brain said run, but my feet just wouldn’t move. I was locked in place by that one-eyed stare!

Now, my evenings, weekends….pretty much every spare moment, are assigned to be spent in stopping-up any suggestion of a gap, crack, fissure, crevice, slit, cranny or cleft, throughout the house.

I think next year, around Halloween, I’ll plan on staying with friends.

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