A Bat Story

it’s a good time of year to talk about bats. so let’s do that

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Beth Czech

Everyone’s got a bat story. Here’s mine.

My wife Shannon and I used to live in a big old house on Lake Street in Eau Claire, right on the edge of what most of you affectionately call The Student Ghetto. The Ghetto – with all of its old houses and rickety rooftops – is pretty much infested with bats. If you’re walking around down there at dusk, just look up. Those aren’t birds.

The house we lived in was large. It was really an apartment attached to a massive, old carriage house. The place was probably crawling with all kinds of creatures, but it was never a problem until one night … one dark and stormy pleasantly balmy night.

We had just climbed into bed, and we’d been reading for a while when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye – just a dark speck, really, up in the corner of the room. At a casual glance, it seemed harmless, but I knew what it was, and I knew what was about to happen. I took a deep breath.

I calmly turned to my wife, and in a calm voice I calmly said, “Get out of the room. Now.”

Because we have such a strong, almost telepathic connection with each other, and because she hates bats, Shannon immediately knew this was code for Good god, Woman, run from the house, now! There’s a giant-ass bat perched on the ceiling it’s a-gonna swoop down like a hairy, disease-infested throwing star from hell and it’s a-gonna get tangled up in your hair and EAT! YOUR! FACE!

So she scrambled out of bed, down the hall, and down the stairs. As did I. Because I’mtotally afraid of bats, too.

Now, most men in my family would know what to do in such a situation. They would give their wife a good long kiss, peer up that stairwell with a steely gaze, and then charge up the steps to take care of that weak little S.O.B. coward of a rodent with their bare hands. Then they’d slam a Pabst Blue Ribbon and wrestle a surly 12-point buck to the ground. For dinner.

But I am not like the other men in my family. I did not grow up in the country, slaughtering animals and defending cattle from midnight wolf attacks, or whatever it is you do on a dairy farm. Instead, I grew up watching Days of Our Lives with my mom. So when confronted with a two-ounce bat hanging from the ceiling, probably sleeping, I mustered all my courage and did what any man possessing my unique talents would do.

I called my old roommate.

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