Bats get a bad rap

Published 7:19 pm Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bats get a bad rap. They have rabies. They’re secretly undead Transylvanian noblemen who vant to suck your blood. And my personal favorite is that they’ll fly into your hair and lay their eggs and drive you crazy. Mama always said that if a person believed that bats layed eggs, they were already halfway to crazy before the critters got to their hair.

When I was 4, mama came home from her day at the college toting a shoebox. She called me to her, and when she opened the box, there was a bat nestled inside! I’d been watching “Dark Shadows” long enough to be certain that if I hung around, I was as good as vampire dinner. Mama grabbed me by the back of my pajamas when I made a break for it and told me to pipe down before I scared the poor little thing to death! It had accidently found its way inside one of the classrooms on campus and mama scooped it up and brought it home to have a teachable moment with me before she took it back to release it.

When mama told me to look at its little face, I risked a peek. It was precious, with a cute, little pointed nose and big old shiny black eyes. Mama said it didn’t want to eat me, but it might chomp through about a bazillion bugs in a night, and wasn’t that a wonderful thing for little girls who never remembered to spray themselves with bug spray before they went out to play? We bonded, that little bat and me, in the few minutes that it was in our home, and I developed a real appreciation for the little flying mammals.

There was that one time though … Way back when I thought suffering for my art was cool, I lived in an old house with not much going for it except the low rent. There was no air-conditioning, and I kept cool by running a fan that was in a window by the bed. It wasn’t bolted in or anything; it just sat propped on the window sill.  One night I woke up to, “Whickety! Whickety! Whickety!”I thought the fan was surely getting ready to vibrate itself right out of the window and onto the floor, but when I turned on a lamp, the fan was fine. “Whickety! Whickety! Whickety!” The noise seemed to be coming from above me. I turned my face to the ceiling and saw not one, not two, but five bats circling above my head! One of them must’ve heard from it’s great-grandpa bat that I was cool, because it dropped down onto my bed and bat-crawled right across the sheet toward me!

Readers, I let the bats have the house.

Pepper Ellis Hagebak is a  resident of LaGrange.