Paul Stansifer (paul_stansifer) wrote,
Paul Stansifer

Let me tell you about my bat!

So, one Saturday, I was sitting in my room, innocently browsing the Web ("There's nothing innocent about browsing the web!" —Jake), when I see a brown blur in the corner of my eye. It's the bat signal! It indicates that a bat is flying around my room in circles.

I run out of my room, closing the door behind me. Then I go through Derek's window to get to the porch, open my porch door from the outside, and wait for the bat to fly out.

No, wait, that's what would have happened if I had made a bat plan ahead of time.

Lacking a bat plan, I resolve the bat panic by dashing out of the bat room. Then I head upstairs to ask Christine for her bat advice. She comes down with me and points out my bat error: the living room is now batty. Some consternation ensues; she dashes through the living to find a broom in the kitchen, and we try to formulate (by yelling across bat-occupied territory) a plan as the bat flies around in a circle in a threatening manner. I open my room's outside door, and, before we can think of a way to proceed (in other words, eventually), the bat flies into my room. We slam the door, establishing a bat quarantine. Given that door is pretty big for a bat (and the bat-preferred level of light is available outside, not inside), we head down the porch for a case of the victory giggles, and Christine has a victory smoke. Christine says that bats, as majestic as they are in the distance against the Texas sunset eating insects, turn out to be a whole different experience when they are flying at your head. I have to guess that she's right. After thirty minutes of victory relish, Christine boldly enters my room, examines it, and declares it to be non-bat. We go to bed.

At 3am, possibly awakened by the ominous background music, I open my eyes and see the bat signal. After a couple more occurrences, it becomes clear that I am not having a bat dream. Fortunately, my door is right next to my head, the way that I sleep (would you believe that it took me months to realize that I should sleep with my completely-blanket-enclosed feet next to the poorly-insulated window, and my exposed head towards the interior of the house?), so I summon some bat courage, and dash out, slamming the door behind me as if I knew what I was doing.

Now I just need to wake up Derek to follow the aforementioned plan— oh, bats! I suddenly recall a rabies story from a Halloween episode of This American Life. After the story, Ira Glass stated, in a suitably awed voice, that bat bites can be delivered without awakening their subject or leaving a bat mark, and it is therefore necessary to consider any bat sleeping experience (not to be confused with a sleeping bat experience) to be a rabies problem. So now I have a rabies problem. I wake up Derek to search online for some rabies advice. This advice includes washing the rabid bat wound, which is potentially my entire body, so I borrow a towel and run off to the shower and scrub myself like crazy. The shower has the side effect of diminishing my rabies panic. It may work on other kinds of panic, too, but I have not yet tested this. I attempt to call the insurance company nurse hotline to find out an appropriate course of rabies action, but all I learn is that their hold music repeats in significantly less time than eighty rabies minutes.

To tide you over during the hold music, here's a neat jungle math building at Florida Tech.

From You May Already Be In Winter!

After another attempt to get through, they give me some solid rabies direction: call my doctor. I do this, though it first requires dredging the concept of a pager out of my memory to figure out why I am being asked by an automated system to leave a numeric message, as I am unable to express anything rabies-related using only numbers. The on-call doctor is surprisingly cheerful at 6am (though, it must be said, she had probably gotten to sleep in a non-bat house), and even tries to give me directions to the nearest emergency room, but is foiled by the absolute foaming-at-the-mouth battiness that is the layout of the Boston road system. I choose instead to go to the topologically-nearest rabies action center, Mass General Hospital, conveniently located right on the Red Line. She also points out that, while time may not be entirely of the essence, hospitals tend to be a lot less busy early in the morning. Anyways, I don't really have anything else to do, seeing as I am not able to function very well without room access.

I boldly rush into my room to grab my wallet (containing my T pass), socks, underwear, and shoes. But my clothes are too far through bat-controlled territory, so I borrow emergency rabies clothes and reading material from Derek, and go to MGH. When I arrive, I make the classic hospital newbie mistake of walking up to the guy at the front desk, briefly describing my rabies issue, and pointing down at the ER, and saying "Should I go over there, then?". But he's seen it all; he's nonplussed (whatever that means); he just approves of my course of action.

I check in, and within half an hour receive a rabies shot from a rabies nurse, actually a regular nurse. It takes an hour or two for them to acquire the other part of the rabies management package, rabies immune globulin, but when they do so, it looks like an ordinary clear liquid in syringes, and not the least bit glob-like. Rabies prevention technology has taken great leaps since the old days of rabies, and the shots are not particularly painful. I am grateful for the march of rabies progress. Wait, no, that's exactly not what I meant. I'm kept under rabies vaccine observation briefly until they determine I have no rabies vaccine ill effects. I consider calling my mother and telling her that I'm in an ER and wearing someone else's clothing, but the rabies has so far not destroyed my common sense, and I choose to deliver the message at a more reasonable hour, preceded by the qualification that the situation is not actually as bad as it sounds.

I get home, and then Jake shows up, on his way to the West Coast, and we have a good time, even if we are handicapped by lack of access to my room. Jake, it turns out, is a bat expert. You might say .... a bat man? He gives me some pointers on bat hiding places, and assures me that there's not a high chance I was going to experience rabies death. I enter my room, and do a bat sweep with my new bat knowledge. The bat's apparent absence is discussed, and the conclusion is that my room, not being home to many bat-tasty insects, would not capture a bat attention long, and the bat probably left the way it came. Exactly what bat path my room has is not clear, but bats are wily creatures, and small bats are known for slipping between adjacent atoms. After Jake leaves, I reclaim my room, and sit down at my computer. Those of you who have been paying attention (obviously not me at this point) know what is going to bat happen.

Pop quiz! The U.S. Constitution mainly serves to restrict the power of the government, but there are two constitutional amendments which it is possible to violate without holding public office as a private citizen (not a politician, police officer, or soldier, etc.). One of them should be fairly obvious if you think about it for a moment. The other will probably surprise you, given what you already probably know about it. What are they?

I run out of my room, slamming the door, like a bat room quarantine expert. When I cautiously reopen the door, I discover a critical bat mistake has been made: the creature has come to rest and forgotten to turn invisible. Not only will I now be able to identify my adversary in a bat line-up, but it's now just possible to tie him up and leave a note for the police. But by "tie up", I mean "carefully capture in some kind of Whole Foods biodegradable salad box", and by "police", I mean "animal control", and by "just", I mean "after a great deal of cautious advancement interspersed with quick retreats to reconsider strategy". And by "him", I mean "him or her", because I obviously don't want to get all bat gender-normative.

I do so, and, twenty-three hours after the bat saga began, I have a second, better-substantiated declaration of bat victory. ("over-bat victory", not "victory of bat".) I label the box

Live bat:
Do not open
unless you want a bat

Then they test the bat, and it turns out to not be rabid. So I've just totally wasted your time. Sorry!

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