Looks like the snow is finally melting. And do you know what that means? Bugs. And do you know what that means? Bats.
My wife Shannon and I used to live in a big old house on Lake Street in Eau Claire. That whole neighborhood – 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.
Our large apartment was attached to a massive, old carriage house. The place was probably crawling with all kinds of critters, but it was never a problem until one night … one dark and stormy pleasantly balmy night.
On this particular night, we were reading in bed when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye – just a dark speck, up in the corner of the room. At a casual glance, it seemed harmless, but in the shadowy corners of my mind, 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 our love has crafted such a strong, almost telepathic connection, Shannon immediately knew this was code for “Good god, woman, flee the house! There’s a giant-ass bat perched above us, and it’s a-gonna swoop down like a hairy, disease-infested throwing star from hell!”
So she calmly scrambled out of bed, down the hall, and down the stairs. As did I. Because I, too, am totally terrified of bats.
we came back home and devised a plan involving rubber gloves, a plastic waste basket, oven mitts, and a piece of sturdy cardboard.
Now, most men in my family would know what to do in such a situation. They’d give their wife a good long kiss, peer up that stairwell with a steely gaze, and charge up the steps to crush that coward of a rodent with their bare hands. Then they’d slam a Miller Lite 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 2-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, Ryan.
My old roommate Ryan is an animal nut. He used to live with all manner of reptiles, including a 4-foot iguana named “Amber.” I hadn’t spoken to him in months, but that didn’t stop me from calling him up in the middle of the night so he’d get out of bed and drive to our house to capture a tiny, stationary mammal. Ryan actually liked catching bats and took pride in using his bare hands, because, as Wikipedia now tells me, bats are not dirty animals and the chances of them giving you brain-boiling rabies are slim to none.
Unfortunately, there was no answer at his place. So I drove over there and knocked on his door. Yes, I really did that. But with no answer at his door, the dreadful realization set in that I was going to have to catch this bat myself.
And so, we came back home and devised a plan involving rubber gloves, a plastic waste basket, oven mitts, and a piece of sturdy cardboard.
We crept upstairs and slowly opened the bedroom door. The bat was still up there in the corner, wriggling. Somehow, it could smell our plot against it.
After a few false starts involving much cringing and dramatic gasping, we ambushed walked up to the bat and captured it in the waste basket, using the cardboard as a lid. It flopped around in there like a horrific little ball o’ claws, yearning to escape and rip holes in our bellies to make a nest or something. But we got it outside, and we set it free.
Yep, after about two hours of plotting and bellyaching, it took less than two minutes to get the bat out of our house. But I think we learned a lot from the ordeal. We learned a lot about ourselves and about our place in the animal kingdom.
This all happened almost two decades ago. I’m fairly confident that, if faced with a similar situation today, I’d know what to do. And I’d behave less like a 5 year old while doing it.