I told this story on stage at Nerdcon and I feel like I should tell it on here too. Travel back in time to wee Mikki. All of 13, weighing approximately 80 lbs and filled with freshman angst. It’s Halloween morning, I have a not so great plan to go to school with a fully made up face and no glasses. I do not own contacts at this point. I…can see maybe 3 feet in front of me without them. How this plan was going to work out? I still have no idea. Blame 13.
Anyway, at the time I had just moved in with my parents. We lived in a big high rise in an apartment that faced the lake. For those of you who have never been to Chicago, Lake Michigan is a brutal windy bitch as soon as summer is over. It’s great to be 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the city in August. In October? Whew. Brr. BRR. But, my dad is a human polar bear so he invariably left the windows wide open well into early winter. This particular morning the first thing my mother said to me as I stumbled out of my room sans glasses was “Go close the windows”. Because the rest of the city was maybe 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Our living room was 30 at best, and that’s being generous.
Imagine long floor to ceiling red velvet blackout drapes (it was 1989, hush!) and a building so hip, it had black tiles throughout with radiant floor heating. The tiles were a good idea in theory. In execution they had two speeds. Cold and too hot. So the effect was like walking across hot glass in a cold room. I don’t recommend it. Now, put the windows all along the wall facing the lake, and imagine a very brisk 25 mile an hour breeze. In 30 degree weather. Doesn’t that sound fun? No? Well, it totally is if you’re a polar bear. Maybe a penguin.
I stumble out, I start closing windows, as I get to the last window, (by the TV, a lovely wooden floor model) I step on the mercifully soft rug that’s under the TV to protect it from the heat. The wind picks up really hard and I get a face full of velvet curtain as I step to the window. As I am struggling to close the window it dawns on me that the rug is moving. Not a lot, but something is slapping my bare foot. I glance down, still no glasses and realize that while the rest of what I stepped on was indeed the pink rug…I am no standing on the face of something brown and furry. With leathery wings.
Well…I am a very fast runner. Very very fast. So fast I smashed into the opposite wall before the curtains finished closing. My screams were still probably bouncing off the poor little things brain as I ricocheted into the bathroom with my mother still screaming “It’s a bat! IT’S A FUCKING BAT!” over and over again. My mother, always adept at prioritizing, opened her mouth to tell me about my cursing then realized I was screaming about an animal. She hates or is afraid of most animals that are not dogs. She doesn’t like dogs either, but you know…they can exist in her space. Bats though? Bats are not on the list. Ever.
So, cursing was tabled for the moment, she established that it was in fact a real bat and not one of my Dad’s pranks, and then she forbade me to open the bathroom door to get him. Or a phone. Because…bat. In the living room. An open door might attract it like the open window. Small problem though, we didn’t want to live in the bathroom forever. So, had to get my Dad to get up and deal with the bat.
Some of you have heard me scream. You know that I am exceptionally loud. I usually blame the Army for my volume. Or choir. Realistically? It’s the bat’s fault. Because I had to scream loud enough for a sleeping man who snored like a freight train to hear me through two closed doors. My lungs got such an amazing workout that day. I can still hold a note for a ridiculously long time.
Eventually my Dad hears me. Now, my Dad is…a little sexist. Okay prior to this, he might been a lot sexist. He comes out, we tell him and he immediately decides I am wrong. I am a girl, and I don’t even know what a bat looks like. Or something. I can’t explain his logic 27 years later, but he kept telling me it was a bird. And you know…birds and bats don’t look anything alike. Even without my glasses, I know the difference between fur and feathers to this day.
My dad really does look like a bear by the way. My husband always says he’s what you would get if someone shaved the Bear in The Big Blue House. I can’t disagree. Anyway, imagine a heavy set bearded man approximately 6 ft 4 arrogantly walking into a dark living room muttering about silly women. Occasionally he says (just loud enough to be heard) “All you had to do was open the curtains so it could find its way out”. Imagine me seething in all my teenage glory, and my mother doing an impressive job of not rolling her eyes.
Now, imagine that same very large man bellowing “Oh shit, it’s a bat!” as he gets the curtains open. I’ll spare you the very silly details, but they mostly involve him not calling for help, grabbing a broom, flailing wildly while yelling obscenities and “It’s a damned bat” at random intervals. For a good 15 minutes. The bat probably did not survive this story, because he hit it through an open window. Fortunately no one got rabies, though we both were scratched and nicked by the bat. And no, we did not get rabies shots. Because the bat was actually not wild. It was part of an experiment. No idea how badly we messed that up.
Anyway, after that he learned to listen when I told him things. And I learned that being a guy, being tall, being whatever didn’t mean you had the first damned clue in a crisis. Also, that bats are attracted to warmth, and with black out curtains and missing screens (a whole other long story about wind and floor to ceiling windows), it probably thought our apartment was a cave. Instead it was stepped on, yelled at, and bludgeoned. Poor bat. Poor me. I never did get to wear that Halloween makeup.
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