Michelle Teheux: Bats in the belfry, spiders in the parlor
Yes, I know that bats don’t suck your blood or turn into vampires, but that didn’t keep me from panicking when one came to call Sunday night.
My husband and daughter and I were watching a movie, the house mostly dark and the back door left ajar, when a dark shape began wheeling around the living room. Before the word “bat” was fully formed in my mind, I was already screaming at it to get out.
The bat paid no attention to my command, both its hearing and sonar probably permanently disabled by my high-pitched screams anyway. It headed for the top of a high stairwell, where it showed every intention of peacefully roosting for the night.
This was not OK with me. Say what you will about our insect-eating friends the bats, I do not want them in my house.
For one thing, we all know a bat bite can give you rabies. For another thing, as we all secretly know, there’s no proof that bats won’t morph into Bela Lugosi and turn you into the undead.
I shouted at my husband and daughter that they were in danger of dropping dead from rabies immediately and should get away from the bat, but they were unperturbed, so I decided to save myself. I fled to the bathroom and called 911, but as it turns out, dispatchers do not consider a bat in the house to be an emergency situation. Apparently watching vampire movies is not part of their training protocol.
Or possibly the problem was that all police officers on duty were already busy investigating an apparent murder in progress. For the record, those blood-curdling screams were coming not from a stabbing victim, but from me.
We were on our own, and I ventured out of the bathroom and shouted at my husband and daughter to be careful not to get bitten. I was in an agony of indecision, unable to decide whether I should panic more about the possibility of rabies or just move straight to my deeply held fear of creepy things. So I went ahead and just panicked about both.
It took an extension ladder propped precariously on the staircase to reach the bat, which my husband attempted to capture in a blanket.
The bat made another escape and began flying around the parlor. I didn’t want the bat to fly any further into the house, so I seized a white dish towel and stood in a doorway flapping it madly, screeching all the while, and praying the bat would fly out the open front door and not toward me.
Instead it roosted on the wall of the parlor, just above the front door, but my husband was able to cover it with the blanket and slowly work it down until the bat was once again flying outside.
That’s when the merciless teasing about my hysteria began. But it was short-lived, as shortly thereafter my daughter let out a few screeches of her own. She wasn’t fazed by a bat, but an ordinary spider was another matter.
I think it’s clear God sent that spider to punish my daughter for enjoying my fear too much.
Once again, my patient husband had to capture an errant creature and reintroduce it to the outdoors.
When everyone calmed down, my husband said he thought we should watch another movie. “Maybe ‘Batman,’” he said. “Or ‘Spiderman.’”
Over Chinese the next night, my son tried to explain to me that bats are misunderstood, great for insect control, blah blah blah.
“You believe that pro-bat propaganda all you want,” I said. “But if you want the real story, read ‘Dracula.’ You better hang onto that chopstick, because you might need to drive it into your sister’s heart later on.”
But if worst comes to worst, he could probably just scare her away with a spider.
Michelle Teheux can be reached at (309) 346-1111, ext. 661, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.