I don’t like bats. Yeah, yeah… I know. They are amazing animals (flying vermin) that eat… I don’t know… millions of tons of insects per day (suck your blood and give you horrible diseases) and are indispensable to the health and well being of our ecosystem (and vampire movies).
I wasn’t born with this obvious prejudice against radar guided flying mammals. I remember a more innocent time when I was free of my preconceived notions about “winged rats”. I would sit in front of our family’s small black and white TV and watch The Andy Griffith Show as Barney Fife would get all bug eyed, freaking out about bats. He was certain that “Bats will lay eggs in your hair and make you go crazy!!” Yes… we all laughed and laughed. Ridiculous! Or… was it?
One evening, years later, I had just gotten the kids to sleep. As I laid there in bed, reading by the light of a small lamp, I kept hearing something… something fluttering. I sat my book down and looked suspiciously over my glass’s around the room. Nothing. Then, I saw what looked like a large moth fluttering along the ceiling. I tried to ignore it, but finally as it flapped its way overhead, I stood up in bed and swatted the winged irritant off of the ceiling and onto the floor. After I jumped down off the bed and turned the main light on, I bent down closely over the moth so I could get a better look at it. “Hmmph!” I said out loud to no one. “What kind of bug do we have here?” I reached down to turn it over, but just before I touched it…
You never really know how you will react to unusual circumstances. But apparently, when a “moth” spins its fuzzy head towards me, opens its mouth and growls with a full set of nightmarish teeth, I jump back up on the bed and scream like a little girl. Ok… It really wasn’t a growl, it was more of a sharp “ping”.
Fortunately… no… ironically, I keep a bat next to my bed (a baseball bat) so I snatched it up and stood like a samurai ready to do battle… with an animal the size of a large butterfly, in my underwear, armed with a Louisville slugger. It didn’t take long before a couple of things became clear to me. First, the miniature mammal wasn’t going to attack me and second, Barney Fife had been right! The Bat had obviously made me go crazy, even without laying eggs in my hair.
In the end, I simply scooped the hapless creature up with the same magazine that I’d smacked him with and then set him gently outside. After all… setting him free was good karma, right? WRONG! Not even a year later my mother called one evening from Idaho. She had been sitting in her easy chair, minding her own business, in front of the fire, watching Gunsmoke, when a rabid bat snuck up on her and bit her on the big toe! And you know those infamous shots you’ve always heard about? They’re REAL! She had to get them! Karma Shmarma, I don’t care if I do smack a random member of your family with a magazine, you don’t get to BITE MY MOM AND GIVE HER RABIES!
That was ten years ago. Ever since then I have watched the evening sky (and bedroom ceiling) with narrowed suspicious eyes. Even though the time has passed without any further bat related incidents, it has not tempered my mistrust… my dislike for the entire bat family. I continue to scowl at them as they flap and swoop around at night on their little rubbery wings. And even though I know that I am irrationally judging the character of an entire species of millions, upon millions of law abiding, hard working bats and that I’m doing so based upon the actions of two misguided hoodlums and the hysterical rantings of an infamously cowardly T.V. character… I find it hard to accept them as fellow productive creatures with nice little bat families and bat fears of their own. But since I do know that prejudice is based on fear, anger, mistrust and misunderstanding… and because my daughters favorite thing in the whole world is (ugh)Batman, I have promised her that I would conquer my “possibly” irrational prejudice with an open heart, an open mind…and at night… tightly closed windows and doors.