Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I am NOT Batman

You don’t have to be a veterinarian to have odd things drop in on you from the animal kingdom. Last night, for example, we had an event.

My wife and I had put the kids to bed and were enjoying some peanut butter crackers and a DVD. It was getting late, so when the door opening chime sounded, we were immediately alarmed and started looking for an intruder. What we found instead was a sleepwalking child who had opened the front door on his way to parts unknown. We didn’t know that this was going to shape the rest of our evening when we got him back into bed.

 A few minutes later, my wife and I were back into the TV show when she looked to her right and said “Huh. There’s a bird in the house.” I looked over at her just in time to see her expression change from curiosity to horror. “It’s a bat! A Bat! THERE’S A BAT IN THE HOUSE!”

I don’t dislike bats. They eat mosquitoes, which I do dislike, and therefore I consider us allies. The only problem with this truce is that the only rabid animal I’ve ever dealt with was a bat. That’s a hard thing to forget when you wife has just informed you that one has invaded your domicile.

I stood up from the couch to find the bat and figure out how to solve this problem. As it turns out, I didn’t have to worry about finding it. As I turned, the bat nearly flew into my face. I spun to get out of the way, spraying my peanut butter crackers all over the living room. I may or may not have screamed at this point. There’s no video of the incident, and wives cannot be forced to testify against their husbands in a court of law.

Speaking of my wife- she was on her feet by this point. It looked like she was somewhere between fight and flight.  The bat was turning tight circles, flapping noiselessly around my living room, and he was moving fast.  I was afraid to stand and get in the flight path again, so I sort of low-crawled into the next room and stood up.  Again, this was a mistake.  After orbiting the living room for 10 or 15 laps, he shot by me again and made a hard turn, flying through the open door of my youngest child’s bedroom.  I had crouched again and didn’t see him, but I saw his shadow tracing a path on the wall of the bedroom with the help of a night light.

My problems had just gotten worse.  I now had a wild animal in my child’s bedroom.  One of my cats had headed for the hills amid the shuffling of frantic humans and a UFO whirling over its head (it was later recovered under the bed at the other end of the house).  My other cat is blind, and therefore had no idea what was happening or which way to run to get away from it all. He was frantically trying to get somewhere -anywhere- else, and I tripped over him trying to get to the bedroom and shoo the bat out.

My wife had collected herself and gone for a broom while this was happening.  She also found the presence of mind to remember that I am vaccinated for rabies, which she made sure to yell over her shoulder.  That, in addition to the Y chromosome, made me the go-to guy for bat eviction.  Lucky me.

I opened the front door to try to give the creature an escape route, and started towards my child’s bedroom.  My wife called out for me to tell her where the bat was, as we were separated at this point in the riot.  “It’s in the bedr-“ was all I could get out before it winged by me again. I whirled around to see where it went, and it came back at me.  I hit the deck this time, flat on my stomach, as the bat lapped the room about 2 feet above my head.

It was at this point, lying flat on my stomach in my dining room with a winged rodent circling above me, that I realized I was being made a fool.  There was nothing I could do, however, because I couldn’t stand up without getting in the flight path of the whirling, potentially rabid beast about the same size as a gerbil.  My wife yelled again from the other room to see where the bat was.  I replied, without thinking, "He's got me pinned down!", as if the bat was doing strafing runs.  I was still on the floor, craning my neck to see which way he was going next, when he flew through the kitchen and to my bedroom. This took him past my wife, who saw him fly straight into the master bathroom.

He had flown into a room that was smaller than his turn radius. This was the only thing that gave us the upper hand. When I reached the room, he was on the floor, addled, behind the garbage can after having flown into the wall. When I came close, I heard him for the first time- he was looking at me and (probably) swearing in a high pitched, growling, metallic-clicking voice. After an aborted attempt to catch him using a mop bucket and a cutting board, he crawled into a crack between our bathroom cabinet and the floor.  Now he was out of sight and totally inaccessible.  We had no choice but to wait him out.

We blocked the crack at the bottom of our bathroom door with some Western novels we had bought for my Dad- it was the best thing we could find to block it in- and went to sleep.  At 4:30AM, my wife woke me up saying that she heard him scratching around in the bathroom.  We checked the room and found nothing.  We assumed he was still tucked away near the cabinet, so we went back to sleep making sure to keep the bathroom sealed tight.  When I left for work a few hours later, there was still no sign of him.

When I came home for lunch, I noticed that the bathroom door was open and the brooms (our weapon of choice) had been put away.  I asked my wife what happened.  She had kept the bathroom door shut for most of the morning, but she decided to do a more thorough search.  She was turning the bathroom upside down when she eventually found the creature hiding between a shirt and a pair of pants hanging on a hook on the bathroom door. Think about that when you get dressed tomorrow morning….

Then came the part that I wish I could have seen: she opened a door to the outside, then snagged the clothes and folded them over the bat to trap it. She went to the edge of the woods behind the house and set it free. She even had the presence of mind to take pictures of the release:

She is justifiably proud of herself. Her final statement on the matter was "I conquered a bat".

It was an interesting incident, to say the least. In closing, I would like to say three things:

1.       Be careful with bats. They may be cool, but they can carry rabies.

2.       If you have a child that sleepwalks, barricade them in their room every night. It's the only way to be sure that they don’t let bats into your house.

3.       My wife played a big part in this story. She is also the person who polishes the blog after a couple of drafts. She's a tremendous help... most of the time. There are exceptions.  Below is a paragraph that she wrote for inclusion in the blog that was "scrapped" in the editorial process. I'll let you read it and decide for yourselves whether or not it should have been included:

"I must say… my wife is super cool for facing down the bat alone.  Sure she’s bigger, stronger, and smarter than the beast, but bats are just plain freaky.  My wife is quite possibly the most awesome woman in the world."