I think it's the way they swoop dizzily near my hair. And eyes. And the way they trick me into thinking they're barn swallows until they eep-eep-eep their radar at me and swoop dizzily near my hair. I don't like that. I hate snakes, Jock! I hate 'em!
So when I had to face one down an hour ago, by myself, I had no idea which of us was going to come out on top. I had to stand fast, though, and face my fears. My nap depended on it. So did my lunch, come to think of it; who can eat when there's a flying rat eep-eep-eeping near their chicken sandwich? Not this gal.
I had to defeat el diablo alone because I'd gone ahead of the rest of the family to open up our cabin. Tony and the kids would be along pretty quick, but I wanted to get there first to do a little grocery shopping, air the place out, make sure the heater worked, face down my ancient nemesis...the usual stuff. I wasn't sure when my ancient nemesis had moved in, but I knew when the thing was moving OUT, by God.
I'd just cranked Panic Switch by the Silverspun Pickups (hilarious irony...not!), then noticed the swooping. I was surprised; we'd had a couple of field mice try to move in, but never any birds. Aw, isn't that cute? It found a way in so it could keep warm, poor thing, and who could blame it? The poor thing's lucky not to be frozen, the weather had been so cold lately, it's almost a shame that I have to OH MY GOD IT'S A FUCKING BAT.
I hate bats, Jock! I hate 'em!
Every kind thought I'd had toward the hideous fucking thing when I thought it was a disoriented barn swallow was blotted out by my rage and hatred. How dare that disgusting filthy thing fly into our cabin, it should have stayed out in the dreadful sub-zero weather and frozen because I want it to DIE, DIE, DIE.
I had no idea what to do, except burst into furious tears and maybe, I dunno, open a window? Could I do both? Yes! Today I found out I can weep and swing open windows at the same time. The things I learn in the middle of the woods.
Okay. What do I do? Tony and the kids would be along soon, and I wanted to make homemade spaghetti sauce that could simmer on the stove and be ready to eat anytime. That in itself would take a while...all that exhausting work of preparing sauce, the five minutes of browning Italian sausage and all the trouble I'd have to go to in order to open those containers of pre-cleaned-and-sliced peppers and onions, and the hard work of opening a couple of cans of tomato sauce and dumping everything into one pot, and then the brutal stirring and endless time it will take to put the burner on Low so I could let everything simmer while I went to take a nap...brutal. So I needed to get started right away. My nap wasn't gonna take itself.
Chase it out? I cranked Panic Switch (that's when the irony of the song hit me); that would disorient it, right? It worked on my kids, anyway...when they had Panic Switch on they sure seemed disoriented. They couldn't hear me call them to do chores, either.
The Internet! Oh, Internet, once again you will make my life easier. I should have never doubted you, Internet. We were meant to be together. So I Googled "How do I get a bat out of my house?" and up popped several on-line ads and articles.
Huh! There are actual bat-removing companies, or services, I guess is the right word. You can just randomly call their number and be all, "Yeah, can you come and perform your bat services in my house?" Except the closest one was not anywhere near where I was. They were probably for big companies. Like Malt O'Meal in Northfield, if their company was suddenly infested with bats, they could call the Bat Removal Guys and get it all taken care of. But from where I was, it would have been more like someone calling to ask, "Yeah, I'm in the middle of the woods and there are TONS of mosquitoes out here. Can you come get rid of them?" It seemed not so much a problem as one of the (few, I'll admit) downsides of country life.
Okay, I wasn't calling in the pros. Another option would be to wait for my husband. We could team up like a couple of super heroes to defeat our arch enemy, like we did when I had to call Terminex to get rid of the boxelder bugs and then he followed up and wrote the check. Didn't see that coming, did you, boxelder bugs? See you in HELL, boxelder bugs! (Hmm. Bugs. Bats. And me. No, I do NOT see the common denominator, back off.) Two heads were (almost always) better than one, and I wouldn't have to deal with this crap by myself.
But my nap! I mean, the sauce. I promised I'd have a nice supper waiting for them. Well, supper at least; I hadn't guaranteed it would be nice, or even edible. So I wanted to get started on that, but I couldn't open a can of tomato sauce with that thing flying around. It made everything harder and scarier. And harder!
Plus, there was something a little 1950's housewife-ish about waiting for the Man of the House to come home and solve my little infestation problem. "Hello, dear, how was your day? Do you like my 1950's era dress, apron, and pearls? Isn't this just the perfect outfit for vacuuming? Here's a martini just the way you like it and oh, if you get a moment, dear, will you please GET RID OF THIS FUCKING BAT?" Um...no.
I guess I could do what some readers suggest I do now and again: ask myself what would Betsy do? What would Fred or Jennifer Scales or King Al or Cadence do? If I could think up some zany adventure for one of those guys, I could realize it's irrelevant because THEY ARE NOT REAL AND THE FUCKING BAT IS.
The solution was semi-obvious: I'd get rid of the bat myself. Well, me and our dog. Our old, old dog who we sometimes nudge with a toe to make sure she hasn't died in her sleep. Yep. The team supreme, that was us. I foresaw no complications of any kind.
The next item the Internet came up with was an article: HOW TO GET A BAT OUT OF YOUR HOUSE, from www.howtodothings.com. Wow, great! No gray area there; it was exactly what I was looking for. So I clicked on it. Then was annoyed to see the sub-title: Safely, Quickly, and Humanely. I hadn't signed on for at least two of those. But there wasn't an article sub-titled Bloodily, Quickly, and As Inhumanely As Any Action Taken In The History Of The Bat/Human Conflict. So I was stuck with the lame 'safe quick humane' option.
Step one: Stay calm, don't panic. I was off to a terrible start since I was not calm, and couldn't be more panicked if the bat had been spraying napalm at me. I took a couple of deep breaths and tried to calm down. The nap. Think of the nap. The long, sweet, bat-free nap.
Step two: Close all doors. Ideally I could do that and corral the bat. Except the stupid cabin was on the stupid loft floor plan so essentially, three-quarters of the place was all one big room. One big tall room. As Liz Lemon would say, "Come on, Internet, give a girl a break." In fact, if I opened all the doors maybe the stupid thing would fly out. So I did the opposite of step two.
Step three: Put your pets in a separate room and close the door. Great. So the dog would be no help to me. At all. I had to stick the dog somewhere else and carry on the death-feud alone. Well, bats do carry rabies. I'd feel bad if the thing bit the dog *and* me and we both went foaming, barking mad and had to be Old Yellered. Our dog loves us; she's a good old gal and I didn't want her to get hurt. So the part of the house I could shut her inside, I did. I gave her a Chewnola to keep her busy while the bat and I fought for the freedom of Middle Earth.
Step four: Turn on the lights. This would disorient the bat. Um, there are no curtains in here, and no blinds. Anywhere. I have to wear sunglasses when I want to read in the living room. Turning on lights won't make it any brighter in here. But it *will* waste resources. Who wrote this stupid article, anyway? Anyway, I ignored step four, too.
Step five: Wait for the bat to roost. Oh. Wait for it to get comfy, relax, put up its little ratty bat feet and, oh, I don't know, TAKE A NAP? Nice to know someone's gonna be well-rested. Apparently the bat would want to cling onto something (eww! eww! eww!) and then quietly hang upside down (eww!). The thing getting all comfy (eww!) is for some reason all part of the Death Plan. Fine.
Step six: Get a hand towel and (optional) rubber gloves. Okay, in what universe would gloves be optional? If I'd been able to get my hands on a suit of medieval armor, I would have. Optional. Gah. And I grabbed one of the big bath towels out of the bathroom, which my husband would absolutely hate. He doesn't even like our kids to use them, never mind stray disease-carrying feral rabid bats. But I wanted something big to toss over the thing, and we were out of parachute canopies.
Step seven: Carefully place the towel over the bat. But the thing was still flying around the big room. When it stopped it would quickly take off again. It wasn't roosting. I figured I'd be relieved it wasn't getting ready to go sleepy-time, but it just pissed me off. Why was this online article ruining my life?
That's when I realized...the bat, when it wasn't swooping, was in the part of the house we call the bell tower. Our cabin was once an old church. So it's got this cool little room at the very top where we put a telescope. The stairs to the bell tower are so steep they're almost like a ladder...climbing up them is okay but when you climb down, it's safer to go down backwards, like a ladder. We've had this place over a year and I've gone up there less than a dozen times. Really steep.
But...there was a tiny balcony up there. And because of that, there was a sliding door up there as well.
That's where the stupid thing had made it's home. All I had to do would be to climb those dizzying steep steps, fumble around with one hand while shielding my head with my other arm, grab the handle, flip the lock, and slide the door (and the screen door) all the way open, so I could then trap the thing with a towel and push it outside. Have I mentioned the bell tower is about four feet wide? And that I was alone? Except for a dog I had put away in another part of the cabin? And that the bat was up there? And that I hate bats?
I could feel my blood pressure amp up as I realized: this would be simple (simple, not easy...big diff) and would only take a minute and there was no one else here to do it and it's the best way to get rid of this thing and the longer I try to think of another plan the longer the bat will be in here with me.
So I went back to my laptop and re-read the article. Nope, no one had changed the article or added another step or put in a "Just for MJD, here's whatcha gotta do and don't worry, you can get it out of your house without going near it" section. No, getting rid of the bat would be simple, but only if I stepped up.
Dammit! Fine. I went to the closet and pulled out my gigantic parka. My gigantic parka was blaze-orange, because when I'm tromping around in the woods in the fall I don't like to get shot at. "What is that, Dad, a bear? My god, is it some kind of hideous disgusting bear that has mutated and turned into something no man should ever have to face? Quick! Give me your shotgun...oh, wait, the hideous thing is wearing a blaze-orange parka. And walking upright. And speaking English to us. Put the gun away. Well, at least take the safety off."
So, yeah, the parka made me look gigantically orange (and also kept me warm in the winter), and when I put it on and zip it up I look like an orange Michelin Man, so it was perfect. It had a hood, too! And there were gloves in the pocket.
Armed with one of my husband's favorite towels, I slowly mounted the ladder. Oh, but first I flipped the light switch for the tower. And since the tower was almost all windows, and it was noon, it didn't make a damned bit of difference. But I'm a stickler for following every single step written in any online article about bats, so I obeyed.
As I slooooowly got to the top, I could see the bat. It was on the floor in the corner. There wasn't anything for it to (eww!) cling to, so it came to the highest place it could and just...hung out on the floor? Bad enough I'm infested with bats, but lazy bats? Jeez. Way to phone it in, bat.
Step eight: Talk softly to him. What? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Talk softly...I don't even do that for my kids. Whom I love. Talk softly? "Okay, you disgusting flying friggin' rat, I'm using my inside voice so you won't notice I am repulsed, and terrified of you. See how softly I'm talking even as my entire body vibrates with pure blazing hatred? See how I'm a gigantic blaze orange bundle of loathing and revulsion?"
Besides hissing hate-filled threats, I'm half-heartedly shielding myself with the towel while hanging onto the ladder with my other hand as I carefully climb. No worries, though; if I slip the dog will break my fall unless I shut her away in another room...oh. Right. What would King Al say if he was here? "Hey, dumbass. Don't slip."
Good advice. So, here was step seven, take two: Carefully place the towel over the bat. As I got to the top, I took a better grip and tossed the towel...right over the bat! Hey, I did it! And eew!
Step eight, take two: Talk softly to him. He is frightened (making it TWO mammals in the bell tower who were scared shitless and wondering just when everything in their lives went horribly horribly wrong) and will make buzzing noises. That is his echolocator.
Hey, step eight was right! The thing--not too big a bat, as I'd noticed earlier, it was about the size of a barn swallow. Anyway, once the towel flopped onto it (or was gently-yet-heroically tossed by a gigantic blaze-orange heroine) it did start to buzz. I wondered what his echolocator was telling him. "You're trapped under one of the man of the houses's favorite towels, and their new fabric softener is terrific."
Step nine: Wrap the towel around his body and gently pull him off the curtain. I had the bat, and the towel, but no curtain and nothing to pull him off of. He was still on the floor, buzzing softly under the navy blue towel I'd gotten at Bed, Bath and Beyond (on sale! though they're always having a sale) that my husband doesn't even like to let the kids use.
Step ten: Take him outdoors. Yay, step ten! I fumbled for, and found, the lock on the sliding door up there, flipped it, then got the door open (while keeping a careful eye on the buzzing navy towel), then unlocked and opened the screen door. Then I was able to step back (it was tougher than I thought to do all that from a cringing, subservient position). Fly! Be free! Fly, you disgusting fucking thing, get the hell out of here and go straight back to whatever pit spawned--oh, right, the towel.
Though steps one through nine had been pretty grueling, I had a bit of energy and strength of will for step ten. I sort of guided/pushed/eased the towel toward, then out, the door.
Step eleven: Open the towel and wait for him to fly off. Wait for him? Oh, sure. I'll just hang out up here in the bell tower until the thing decides to go look for a new person to terrorize. I've got all sorts of time to--oh, wait, there it goes. Huh. Bye, bat.
Step twelve: The bat will not 'turn on you' or attack in any way. He's just glad to be free.
Oh, really? He's not seething with hatred after I opened random doors, shut a dog away, blasted loud music, threw a towel on him, softly hissed death threats at him, then unceremoniously bundled him out the door, removed the Towel of Confinement, and exposed him to blazing sunlight and freezing temperatures? Are you telling me this hasn't gotten personal?
Huh. There he goes. I guess it wasn't personal. All right! Time to get back to work. I'm on a schedule here. My nap won't take itself, right?