Yesterday our kindergartener came home with a little book she made at school called "All About Bats." In lieu of reading the book to me (she was over homework by then), she gave us a synopsis, explaining that bats hang upside down and eat harmful insects.
I'll admit to having some Bat Fascination. I can immediately tell you where in my life bats and I have intersected.
From a literary standpoint, there's Stella Luna, which was read recently in kindergarten and served as the inspiration for daughter's handmade book; Bats at the Beach, which our two-year-old deemed "too scary" to read tonight; and one of my preteen favorites, There's a Bat in Bunk Five, which is set at summer camp, where the reported "bat" in Bunk Five is revealed to be of the baseball variety. (I loved that prank!)
There's a beautiful old bridge over a freeway in our city. We drove under it often when I was growing up; rumor had it there were bats galore beneath its arches. I would crane my neck each time we passed underneath that bridge, certain that the shadows I glimpsed were bats. Creepy, cool bats.
When I was living in Washington, D.C. after college, friends and I attended an outdoor concert on the Capitol grounds one summer night. Lying on my back on a blanket, I watched swarms of birds frenetically circling the Capitol building. Those were no birds, my friend smirked: bats! Bats, outside, flying around! Eating harmful insects! Fascinating stuff for a Southern California girl.
But my most intimate bat moment was in college. Senior Year, I was a Freshman Counselor for my dorm. And one quiet Friday night when I was in my room watching a movie, Freshman Gregg knocked on my door with an emergency.
"There's a bat in Entryway F."
Stumped, I called the campus police. "Um, I am sorry I am calling the emergency number for this, but you see...there's a bat in Wright Hall."
"You're kiddin'." Pause. "We'll send someone right over."
Gregg led me to the bat-infested entryway. The bat wasn't flying around, as I had anticipated. Where was it? Gregg walked slowly up the stairwell and suddenly yelped. "Okay!!! Yes! It's there! Yes, it is!"
I peered around the landing and my eyes settled on a little brown furry thing I would not have believed to be a bat had I not been told there was one Right Over There. It lurked on the tile floor, hardly moving. Gregg and I spent the next couple of minutes dashing in and out of the entryway, not really wanting to Hang Out with the bat, but not wanting anyone to descend the stairs and unwittingly send it flying again.
When the cop showed up he immediately informed us he was not prepared to deal with a bat. He suggested that we secure a blanket, throw it over the creature, and let it go outside. We thought he was a great candidate for that endeavor, but he looked at us and waited for a volunteer.
Gregg knocked on the door of his friend Franklin's room, right there on the first floor of the entryway.
"Hey, Franklin, do you have a blanket we could use?"
"To capture a bat."
"No way. Bats have Bat Lice. I don't want Bat Lice in my blanket. I suggest you get a gun and shoot it."
We looked pointedly at the policeman, who shook his head.
Franklin compromised and supplied us with an old towel.
Gregg crept up the stairs and weakly flung the towel at the bat. He missed. The startled bat came swooping down the entryway and we all ducked. Gregg brought his head down hard on the metal stair railing, giving himself a bloody nose and--thankfully--our only bat-induced injury of the evening.
The bat flew in confused circles and flapped into me. I shrieked, and it landed conveniently in a corner of the stairwell.
The policeman snatched the towel and made another attempt to apprehend the bat, who was making strange chirping sounds. The cop half-dragged, half-nudged the bat, wiggling beneath the blanket, down the stairs. I flinched at every maneuver and made weak bat jokes.
Our Batman made it to the entryway door, frightened bat in tow. When we burst that door wide open, the bat flew off into the starlit sky.
The policeman rubbed his hands together to signify a Job Well Done.
Gregg ran off to ice his bruised nose. I returned to my room, blood still pumping but triumphant, to finish my movie.