Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Penny's Bat


My friend Penny swears she didn't shriek. She is basing this on her personal knowledge of herself, which includes the strong conviction that she is not a shrieking sort of person. She has known herself longer than I have known her, so I will concede the point. I will just state for the record that Penny emitted a brief squeak of very high pitch and decibel level that was completely out of context for the conversation we were having.

I no longer remember details of the conversation, but she was holding up her end of it when she decided to clean up a few dishes that had been left by her sink, and noticed a teabag in the bottom of a glass tumbler, and reached in to pull it out, and it was a little damp and a little squidgy but just a bit larger than your average teabag, and before she was able to fully process this observation, a wing unfolded on the teabag, which was revealed to be, in fact, a bat, and that's when the thing that couldn't have been a shriek happened.

I don't think she has anything to be ashamed of. If I had reached into the very same tumbler and pulled out the very same damp bat, there would have been an authentic shriek and an airborne glass tumbler and wild jerky moves on my part that might have disrupted the entire kitchen ecosystem. I am readily startled.

Dave enjoys this about me. At least once a day he sneaks up on me in some way that will cause me to shriek. He claims he is merely monitoring my heart health for me, but he is really doing it for his own entertainment. He can count on my reaction even though I've been on the lookout for Sudden Dave for years. At some point in every day I'm going to drop my guard, and there he'll be.

There are a number of critters that evoke this response in many people. I am not afraid of any of them. Snakes are splendid. Spiders are attractive and interesting. Bats are flat-out cool. What my sympathetic nervous system objects to is the sudden snake, the sudden spider, the sudden bat, and the sudden Dave. I want a little warning.

I'll put my nose an inch away from a spider in an orb web to admire it. If a spider walks across my pillow--and it would have to be mere inches away from my face for me to see it without my glasses--I'll jump a little, but still have the emotional wherewithal to calmly relocate it out the window. I could watch bats swooping in my vicinity all evening. But put that same bat in my bedroom when I'm not expecting it, and I'll fill my shorts. Those little black spiders that run like the wind give me the willies. One day I stepped into the very center of a patch of baby snakes and they wriggled off in every direction. I thought the ground was boiling. Everything inside me--food, bones, organs, dreams of glory--liquefied at once. I don't remember what happened after that, but I'm pretty sure there was some cleanup involved.

We'd decided Penny's bat was dead. It was kind of head-first in the bottom of the glass, and it wasn't moving, just unfolding a little. Penny also believes she didn't shriek because she likes bats, as most of my favorite people do. Therefore a damp teabag bat could not possibly have startled her in any way. Whatever: I will report that she thereafter calmly relocated the bat--in the tumbler, but without putting a cover on it--outside on the ground, under a fern. A half hour later it was gone. We're hoping for the best.

Maybe bats startle easily too. Maybe it just fainted dead away at the very moment Penny didn't shriek.

46 comments:

  1. The bat was probably even more scared than she was, and was rendered unable to move as a result of this gigantic creature reaching into it's sleeping place and "eeping" at it. (To be fair, since bats have exquisite hearing, it may have come across as a shriek to the bat itself.)

    I, too, am easily startled. Paul doesn't even try to startle me, yet he is constantly turning up in places where I don't expect him to be, at times I don't expect him (like directly behind me as I am vacuuming, so I don't see him or hear him until I turn around...) and seems a bit put out that I turn pale and bug-eyed and practically faint. "I live here, too, you know", he will say. Yes, I know, but I certainly don't expect anyone to be closer to me than my shadow when I suddenly turn around.

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    1. We should bell them. We should totally bell them.

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    2. We had an "encyclopedia" of children's stories in the house, when I was small. One of the collections was called Belling the Cat and Other Stories. For years, I thought "Belling" was the NAME of a cat. Just saying...

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    3. There are so many things like that. Things we thought when we were kids that turned out to be misunderstandings. I wish I could remember EVEN one right now. Although I do remember thinking Humpty Dumpty was a potato, and I couldn't imagine why it was such a big deal when he took a great fall.

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  2. Beware -- the next Sudden Dave may well involve a bat as an implement.

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  3. Replies
    1. Now I have bat envy - that's from the islands north of us and our bats are comparative tiddlers.

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    2. I love when you come up with stuff like Tiddlers. I need to visit the land of great words. Me and my Moggie.

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  4. I once reached into a bag of nuts and found a tiny about tea bag sized mouse. I don't think I shrieked. I also have not eaten a nut in eight years.

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    1. And bless yore heart, it didn't make you feel all litigious either, did it? That could have been the Golden Rodent.

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    2. It was an open bag, and the mouse was alive, no one to sue but me.

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    1. Well, that's what we're hoping. We really don't think another critter found it, and found it yummy, in a mere half hour.

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  6. At this time of year all I can think of is rabies. Hope you all washed and washed!!

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    1. It's a solid point. I never touched it, and Penny didn't get bitten, so I think we're in the clear.

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    2. I don't think she washed the bat-tumbler all that well...I've been having a little problem with foaming at the mouth ever since returning home.....

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    3. You don't think that it could've been the beer that was in the tumbler at the time causing the foaming at the mouth, do you?

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    4. Did I ever tell y'all about the time my throat seized up while I took a swig of beer (it does it with water too, and unpredictably)? I had to lean over, mute, waiting for the bolus to resolve, and meanwhile it foamed up and started coming out my mouth--all the time I was waving my arms about trying to convey that I was all right. Evidently I didn't look all right.

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  7. I believe Dave when he says he does this for your heart health. My wife used to put on a trench coat and hang sleeping bats inside it. She would then walk up to unsuspecting friends, open the coat, and watch and listen to their reaction. Now THAT'S entertainment!

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    1. You're making that up. And let's look into that "used to" part...

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    2. It's absolutely true, but she was younger then. She still picks plants in the woods, shows them to me and say, If I die, this is what I ate."
      She has also been a nautical figurehead on a ships bow, topless of course, in a fairly crowded marina. She was definitely younger then.
      Lots of used to's at this age.

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  8. She could have at least tied a string to it, and dunked it in hot water to see if it was really just a teabag posing to be a bat.....

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  9. Hooray for bats. And spideys. Snakes I prefer to appreciate from a distance. I can see their beauty, but prefer it further away.

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    1. They feel so good in your fingers, though.

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  10. If you really like bats, I recommend a midnight kayak trip on a small warm lake. Ev. Er. Y. Where. Thousands of bats skim the water's surface eating tiny bugs. Their wings feel like kitty cat tails gently brushing up against you. You must paddle very gently so you don't unwittingly drown any of the little furries. It's wonderful!

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    1. That's what I'm going to make you do with me if I ever come visit. I was wondering where all our bats went!

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  11. I love spiders, especially jumpers. But if a 2 millimetre jumping spider jumps towards my camera lens, I leap back a couple of feet. Can't help it.

    I like your label; it's not spiders, it's Sudden Spiders. And Sudden Elevator Occupiers. And Sudden Neighbours. And there's nothing wrong with me, at all, at all.

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    1. Nobody ever said there was something wrong with you. Not to your face. Or immediately behind your back.

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  12. The only good thing that has come of my family unintentionally (hah) creeping up behind me - when they KNOW, dagnabit, that I startle easily - is that I have on occasion shrieked loudly enough to startle them in return!

    And yes, Sudden Everything should make all normal people be startled. T'ain't right not to be.

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    1. I'm the worst, though. I remember being in lunch line during school and someone would pop a paper bag and NOBODY else soared into the air.

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  13. I am a spider fearer. Those creepy crawlies make my spine shiver all the way down to my toes (okay, I KNOW the spine is not attached to toes!). They are fascinating at a distance sitting serenely in the center of a spider web OUTSIDE! They should respect my space and stay out there! I also once stepped into the center of a herd of baby snakes in the lawn and my husband had told me that I was running on air to get out of there!
    I think the little bats are cute when I view them in the zoo, but those fruit bats--they have balls, literally! Have you SEEN them?!
    A young man I dated once told me that bats try to tangle in a girls long hair (which I had!) and offered to place him arm across my shoulders and cover my head with his jacket. Then he said I had to snuggle closer to be sure I was safe. Now I realize it was a ploy! My middle name is GULLIBLE, or at least that's what my dad always said!

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    1. Oh yes. I have seen the zoo bats. Hanging upside down, and I do mean hanging. I couldn't stop watching. Dave drug me out by the ear. He was totally embarrassed. I believe the closest bat was just trying to polish his equipment. It could take quite the shine.

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  14. I heard about someone who poured more hot water over the supposed teabag in the bottom of the cup, downed the brew, then on dumping it out discovered that the teabag was a chiropteran, quite dead. I can't remember where I heard it. Could have been from you. That's the beautiful thing about getting old. Everything swirls around and makes Spirograph patterns, and it's so pretty. xoxox j.

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    1. It wasn't me. But what I am starting to grok is that Teabag Bats are a thing. Also, there are many many many beautiful things about getting old. Although none of them involve the neck region.

      As an example, when you're old you can put a photo like the one of me, above, right on the Internet where anyone can see it, and you don't give a flying bat anymore. (The spider is not the scary feature in that photo.)

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  15. So once we were camping in the Wyoming desert and my husband walked up with his hand closed and said, Here. Whereupon I innocently opened my hand and he deposited a small horned toad in it. I shrieked and flung the little critter possibly as far away as Utah, then followed up with a genuine bout of hysterics--in part because I'd mistreated an innocent creature. All I can add is, he's never done the Here thing ever again

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    1. Ah yes, Jeanie, the sudden toad! I might not have had that reaction to a sudden toad UNLESS I stepped upon it unawares. Have you noticed how very fast your feet can recoil when they encounter something squishy and unexpected?

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    2. Oh HORNED toad! Not a toad. Well, it's possible that would have been one flung lizard if he'd tried it with me. I can't say I'm all that pure.

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  16. I'm with you. 99.9% of things are okay as long as they're not the sudden variety.

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    1. Then there's slugs. I like slugs okay but after a particular evening in my eleventh year of life, I quit going barefoot forever.

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  17. I used to have sudden lads who liked to do that to me but as my instinct is to karate chop as well as shriek I think that particular enterprise swiftly lost its charm, so they switched over to the dog. Yes, Murr, sudden anything!

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    1. Dave also used to lob eggs toward me. The deal is, his buddies inevitably try to catch them out of pure reflex, and they smoosh in their hands. I cringe and step aside out of pure instinct, and they fall to the floor. Dave got such a kick out of that that he didn't even mind cleaning them up.

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