Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wherein I Once Again Freak Out Over Uninvited Guests in my Home

If I were to take one of those silly online quizzes entitled something like "Which Movie Title Best Describes Your Life," I'd put money on the result being Batman Returns. Although if we're talking about specific movie scenes, the squirrel attack in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation might win.

In the last week I nearly had a coronary, not once, but twice. I have suffered mental anguish at the hands--er, uh, wings?--of small mammals. I have found myself wondering how my life could spiral so completely out of control (well, maybe that last bit's a little mellow-dramatic) and why do Disney princesses not have mental break-downs with all the animals that are always invading their space?

The first episode occurred about a week ago. I ventured to the basement to check the suitcases for some things that have been missing since we returned from our epic road trip. As I reached for our gargantuan pink suitcase something large and gray moved just inches from my hand. I screamed (twice) and the bushy-tailed varmint scampered off across the storage shelves.  Apparently the squirrel that we thought we had rid our basement of about four months ago is back and has decided to nest on my luggage. This was somewhat surprising because when we first discovered said squirrel in our basement, my husband, David, chased the little tree rat outside with a ski pole and then patched the place under our porch stairs where we were sure it had gotten in. Upon first discovering the visitor four months ago, David had gone and purchased a live animal trap at the Tractor Supply store (one of our favorite places to shop in town--welcome to rural NY). Last week when he checked the trap the untouched bait had decomposed to a petrified, moldy mess. Evidently, this squirrel found our 50 pound bag of potatoes and our year's supply of popcorn and has been living high on the hog cob (I know that's a terrible pun, but sorry, I'm not sorry). I've been wondering if it found another way in but David thinks maybe it got in again after he chased it out and before he patched the hole and it has been trapped down there for the last four months. I have had visions of a crazed, half-starved squirrel lunging at me from the basement steps ever since. I know I'd be crazed and starved if all I had to eat for four months was raw potatoes and popcorn kernels.

I am generally not afraid of squirrels but there's something about having a rodent that large in one's home that is disconcerting. We reset the trap, but so far nothing. So yes, the squirrel is still in my basement and I have no idea how to get it out. I make my boys go to the basement when I need something and if I'm home alone I pound on the basement door before opening it. Just in case.

The second episode happened a few nights ago. I was lying in bed reading. My bedside lamp was on and my bedroom door was open. David had fallen asleep earlier and I was thinking it was time to get some shut-eye myself when out of the corner of my eye I saw something fly into our room. My first thought was "how on earth did a bird get in my room?" My second thought came milliseconds on the heels of the first: "That's not a bird. That's a bat." And that is when I started to scream. Multiple times. Loudly.

It should be mentioned that I, like Batman, have a slight phobia of bats (chiroptophobia, if you were wondering). Unlike Batman, I have never really embraced my fear and decided to fight crime and save the world dressed as a bat. You may remember that I freaked out over a dead bat back at the end of January--flying mice with rabies and all that jazz. Imagine how much more I would be terrorized by a live one flapping around my bedroom. Now multiply that by ten because fear is not rational. Thinking back on it now I am a little surprised that the neighbors didn't call the police with all the noise I was making.

David (who, you will recall, had been sleeping soundly) leapt to his feet in a defensive stance, yelling and swinging. For a good 15 to 20 seconds he continued to shout incoherently while bobbing and weaving like a prize fighter as the bat swooped around his head. He was remarkably nimble for someone who was clearly not fully awake. Below is a fairly accurate depiction of what he looked like:

I don't know what I was yelling at that point. Something incredibly astute like "It's a bat!".  David was slowly becoming more and more awake. When he was finally fully conscious he stopped dead, looked at me with utter exasperation and rolled his eyes. My heart was still pounding but I realized that I may have over reacted just a tiny bit. I couldn't help it, despite the drama of the situation moments before--I started laughing.

He calmly grabbed the top sheet off the bed and gracefully flung it over the poor, terrified, little bat with the skill of a seasoned fisherman or an African hunter or--I don't know--someone who throws nets a lot? The bat fell to the floor under the weight of the sheet. I could see that it was struggling to escape.

David looked at me and said, "You need to choose another reaction towards bats and save that for when there is a human intruder in our house. I thought we were going to die. I thought I was going to have to fight for my life." He gently gathered up the sheet with the struggling little bat inside. "Not even a spraying skunk merits that reaction," he said as he headed downstairs to let it go outside. I was still sitting on the bed, feeling slightly stunned and laughing in bursts, when he returned from downstairs, peeked his head in the bedroom door and said, "Excuse me while I go change my shorts." Figuratively, of course.

Every time I thought of him standing there, only half awake, ready to fight an invisible foe to the death, I began laughing hysterically--tears-streaming-down-my-face-laughter. I told David he needs to ask to see the replay of that when he dies because It. Was. Awesome.

The culprit was a little brown bat, just like the one I found in our kitchen several months ago. I'm pretty sure the bat got into the attic through one of the attic window vents then found its way down the stairs, through the open door into the big boys' bedroom and then into our room.

 After getting the little boys (that I had awakened with my screaming over-reacting) back to sleep I went back to bed myself. I have been sleeping with my bedroom door closed every night since then.

So, dear reader. I survived to tell the tale with my sanity only slightly bruised. I know I am not the only one this has happened to. My brother, Rob, shares my phobia of bats and I know that he has had bats in his own home more than once in the last year. This seems to happen in older homes a lot more frequently than in newer homes. So, who else out there has survived a bat encounter? How did you deal with the situation? Did you freak out? Any resulting PTSD? I'm curious.

I am also slightly ashamed of my reaction. It was only a bat after all. They are even kind of cute when they aren't flying. Well, okay, not really. They are actually horrifying, but I'll just keep lying to myself about that and maybe one day I'll believe it.


Tanya said...

Now that I've stopped hyperventilatingly laughing... (because it wasn't me, and because you have an excellent use of words)
I especially love the part about using an animated bat to impersonate your husband saving you from the bat! :D
I have definitely never recovered nor embraced my fear of mice in the house. I think it's beyond my ability.

Heather Oxborrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather Oxborrow said...

Oh my, that MADE my day. Seriously. The image I have of David is probably a fraction of what it really was. I'm glad you made it out alive. :)

Kylie said...

I'm laughing so hard I may need to go change my shorts... :D

Ida said...

Stop you are killing me with laughter. This was just a hoot and such a fun read.
Reminded me of when I was living at home and told my parents about the weird noise in the ceiling every night. They didn't believe me until my mom heard it one day. Turns out a squirrel was in the basement rolling nuts down the ceiling at night. She apparently had babies in there. They boarded up the area and said squirrels ended up dying (I know sad) and then they stunk the place up so we had to heat up vanilla in cans with candles to get rid of the nasty smell.