Friday, October 29, 2010

Bats and Candy

I grew up in the woods in a log house. The house had been built by a crazy hippie without any real plans, forethought, or aesthetic sense. It was heated with two wood stoves, had bare beam ceilings, and had sharp sand mixed into the paint on the walls, so that if you brushed up against them you would cut yourself. There were buffalo skulls nailed to the front of the house for decoration and there was one room, when we moved in, that had a floor that was set at 20 degree angle. I used to sit in my brother's metal Tonka dump truck and ride down the room. I was pretty upset when my dad eventually leveled it out.

So its not hard to guess that this house wasn't especially air-tight. Or more to the point, animal-tight. Somehow there were always birds, mice, and bats scurrying or flying from room to shag-carpeted room. Plus that one escaped hamster.

For a while, I had bunk beds in my room. I don't know why. I didn't share them with anyone. I think it was because in my mind, bunk beds were the next best thing to a canopy bed, the thing I coveted more than anything but was cruelly denied. Anyway. I liked to sleep on the top bunk because I had a recurring nightmare about a black cat that hid under my bed and would pluck the hairs out of my legs if I touched the floor.

One night after I had been in bed for a couple hours, I woke up to see, a few inches from my face, two little bats hanging from the beam of my ceiling. I don't think I was afraid, but I was aware that if I moved and woke them up, they would fly around my room in that frantic, blind, spastic way that they do and it would take us forever to catch them. So I called out to my mom who was across the hall in her sewing-room-that-used-to-have-an-awesomely-sloped-floor, in a whisper-yell. My mom, never one to panic, assessed the problem, and went downstairs to get her bat removal gear: an empty plastic garbage can and a broom.

And so, I lay there still and quiet, staring at the bats. Willing them not to wake up, or poop, until Mom got back with her broom. She caught them without incident. And that was that. Not one bit scary.

You're disappointed, right? So was I.

I'd like to amp up the fear factor in that story for the season. Make it spooky. Maybe the bats came back night after night. Maybe they disappeared into thin air. Maybe they bit me and I blacked out and in the morning one of our goats was found exsanguinated in the barn. But the way I remember it, true or not, it was a few days before Halloween.

Which would have made it the best Halloween ever to be had up on the frozen tundra of Minnesota. Because even though my mom always made my brother and me the most awesome costumes, it is already winter up there at the end of October. We always had to wear moon boots and winter coats over our costumes. And since it was the middle of nowhere with miles of fields and woods between houses, Mom had to drive us from house to house. And at each house, she would get invited in for a cup of coffee. Which she would usually decline, but she couldn't escape without politely chatting for a few minutes. Which meant that we could only stop at five or six houses before it was time to go home.

So, the moral of this story is that after being cheated out of copious amounts of candy as a child, and never really being terrorized by vampire bats, and living in a house built by a crazy person that wasn't haunted, I am completely justified in stealing half of my kids candy.


  1. Let's stay focused here. While this story might not have turned out to be scary, I'm still horrified it's snowing there already. See? Eat all the candy you want.

  2. I knew you were hardcore.
    Bats are my most overwhelming fear.
    When I was a tender 12 years old we went to Indian Lake New York with my friend Julie and her family.
    We made the mistake of AWAKENING the bat family that hung in the attic and they swooped down and flew terrifying circles through the place.
    The screaming was the stuff of nightmares.
    They never did anything but fly blindly around in a panic trying to escape but my fear monger mother had always drilled "RABIES=DEATH" into my head.
    Actually, I guess rabies really does equal death so she wasn't that far off.

  3. I was a hardcore 8-year-old when I was still blissfully unaware of rabies. I am a pussy 38-year-old. I would probably lose my shit if that happened to me today.


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