Thursday, June 25, 2009

SO, WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

It was a dark and stormy night.

Actually the moon was out and there was only a 20 percent chance of rain, but come on, folks, I’m trying to create a mood here.

I was at my computer, dog at my feet, late night TV keeping me company, when I heard it.

The flap, flap, flap of a pair of predatory wings.

The bat signal.

And then I saw it. Flying between my bedroom and my office. I know what is running through its little bat brain. How the hell did I get here, how do I get out, and should I sink my fangs into that old white guy’s neck before I go?

And there stand I, the old white guy, heart racing, chest tightening, sphincter loosening.

My office is separated from my bedroom by a glass door. I shut it. Then I did what any red-blooded man of action would do. I called the cops. As you read this, understand that I live in a small town.

DISPATCHER: Hello, what is your emergency?


ME: There’s a bat in my bedroom.


DISPATCHER: Marshall, is that you?


ME: Oh hi, Carol. There’s a bat in my bedroom. Can you come over and get rid of it. I’m freaked out, and I’m not too embarrassed to ask a woman. 


DISPATCHER: I’m just going off duty. I’ll send someone else.


ME: I don’t care if you send your grandmother. Just make sure she has a gun.

Ten minutes of terror later, I see the flashing lights in my driveway. I yell out the window that the front door isn’t locked.

The cop comes upstairs. If he tries to give me a lecture on how dumb it is to leave the door unlocked, I’m ready for him. How else would the cops get in if there were a bat attack. Thankfully, it doesn’t come up.

He searches the house. I call my wife who is in the city. She laughs. Her main contributions to the conversation are, “glad I’m not there,” and “make sure it’s gone before I get back.”

The dog was no help either.

The cop comes back upstairs.

COP: I opened the front door, then I searched the house. I didn’t see it. He must have flown out.


ME: He didn’t. They never do. He’s waiting for you to leave. Please shut the door before you let his whole damn family in.

He shuts the door, then offers to walk through the house with me to prove that it’s safe. I grab a hat and a blanket and we go from room to room.

ME: Sorry to call you. I can deal with snakes, spiders, mice, bears, anything. But bats creep me out.


COP: Me too.

And then I see it. A dark brown wood beam over an upstairs window has a dark brown fuzzy lump on it.

ME: Do your duty, officer.


COP: Do you have a newspaper or a magazine?


ME: No, do you have a gun?

We opt for the classic solution. A broom.

With Ninja like precision, I get the weapon from my arsenal in the broom closet, and the cop brings down the intruder.

ME: Why don’t you put him under the wheel of your squad car and back over him to make sure the little bloodsucker is really dead?


COP: I think he’s really dead.


ME: Have you ever read Bram Stoker? Brooms only stun them. Do you have a wooden stake?


COP: No.
ME: How about a pencil?


COP: Don’t worry about it. I’ll take him with me. Get some sleep.


ME: Not here. Not tonight. Bats travel in packs. I’m calling a friend and sleeping at his house.

Which I did. And the next day I called the local animal damage control guy and had the house bat-proofed.

Fear of bats is called chiroptophobia. And I am not alone.

In Batman Begins we learn that as a boy, Bruce Wayne fell into an abandoned well and stirred up thousands of bats. The trauma left him chiroptophobic. When he decided to fight crime, he became Batman, using his own fear to strike fear in the hearts of Gotham City’s most notorious evildoers.

For me, the only thing scarier than having a bat in my house is having the in-laws fly in for a three-day weekend.