Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Animal Song

Come; gather around this fireblog and listen to the song of the animals.

Five days ago, I was putting on my jeans. In the right leg down around my shin, I felt something out of place, something that had the same heft and texture as a roll of Smarties. I pushed it down through the material until a roach about the size of my pinkie finger fell onto the floor and looked at me with such impudence that I couldn't bring myself to stomp it. Also, I wasn't wearing shoes. He scurried away behind my computer and I realized that I hadn't seen a roach in this apartment yet (one roach-free year!) so I was not as armed and well prepared as I might usually be, roach-wise. I grabbed a can of Tinactin and sprayed back behind the computer, but I don't think that killed him. Lord knows I probably just made him invincible. For five days, I have been feeling a roach on me and shuddering.

Four days ago, milady S. and I went off to a cabin in North Carolina with my family. I was looking forward to seeing some non-roach wildlife and the occasional deer off in a clearing was quite nice. I even left some of the bad ears of corn in the yard of the cabin in hopes of attracting critters, man-eating or otherwise. I didn't have much luck and it left me a little despondent. Since it was a family trip, we couldn't just sit around and read all day. We had to have activities and such activities could be found in the brochures thoughtfully provided by the cabin-keeper. One such brochure was for the local New River Zoo and damn if the front fold didn't have a picture of Francis the Fennec on it. S. and I have a bizarre fixation with this north African fox, a giant eared creature of such endearing bearing that I'm making plans to somehow save Qaddafi's life so that he'll give me two out of gratitude. Seriously, Google a fennec and tell me they're not the perfect blend of cat and dog. You'll find yourself saving Qaddafi, just you watch.

We went to the zoo and thank god they had two fennecs, because that was the most depressing place on earth. Most of the animals had something wrong with them and were in cages that seemed a little too small. A black leopard was missing an eye and constantly pacing back and forth. A New Guinean singing dog came out of his hovel to the corner of the cage to wimper at us. A ringtailed lemur pressed himself against the bars so that we could pet him (the good thing about zoos this bad is that there's not much supervision) and then finished us off with a hearty and precise display of his genitals. After that, I didn't want to see any animals for a long time.

Tonight, I got home after a long day at work and putzed around with the computer. I noisily installed a new video card, then played a rather loud video game at my desk. I heard a rustling over by the trash can and I thought that super-roach had returned to seek his destiny. I went over to the can and was very, very, very surprised to have a small brown bat fly up off the floor, pass my face, and start leisurely circling the ceiling fan. I ducked, ran out the bedroom door, and shut it behind me. I thought, well, I might need some help on this one, but the cell phone was back in the bedroom. Before I opened the door, I noticed that a bat was now flying around the living room. Did he sneak out? I opened the bedroom door; no, still in there. I have two bats in my apartment.

I do what any sane man would do: I grab a Trader Joe's bag and start muttering "here bat bat bat." Their echolocation is amazing, as every chance I had to even get him near the bag would result in a perfect 360 degree turn and a resumption of flying around and narrowly missing my head. I realized that the bag'n'tag method wouldn't work, so I go to prop the front door open. As I'm opening the door, one of the girls on the floor is just coming out her door with her arms full of laundry. I very quickly shut my door with a stupid-ass smile. What she must think of me. I wait to hear the laundry door shut, then get my door propped open with a book.

My main goal is to present a barrier to the bat, so that he might feel that only the door will do. I start using my squirrel language, clicking my tongue and waving my arms. Squrriel= small mammal, bat= small mammal, what the hell are you looking at me like that for? Knock it off. I'm waving a place-mat at Mr. Fleidermaus until finally he bounces off the door frame and flies out. At this point, I've had bats for a while and I'm seriously considering just letting him hang out in the stairwell. People are coming home from work, I'm sure they can take care of their own little fuzzy surprise. Alas, I can't just let it go and busy myself with shooing my charge down three flights of stairs.

By now, I'm cooing to the bat, telling him, "oo, uggums hit his head? Are you otay uggums?" Finally, after repeatedly flying into my place-mat shield, he flies out the front door... and I still have a bat in my bedroom. She wasn't quite as bright, or I'm just a piss-poor bat wrangler, and took a very long time to get out the door. As I was moving back the smokers' bench that I'd used to prop open the front door, one of the other girls in the building was coming in and to her credit asked a sweaty, dusty, place-mat wielding man if he was all right. I just came clean and said, "two bats. In my apartment. Just got the second one out." She didn't even bat (snicker) an eye when she told me that she and her room mate plugged up their kitchen fan vent because sometimes bats would get through.

I hadn't even reached that point yet. I knew I was going to have to find how two bats had gained ingress unlawfully, but I wasn't looking forward to it. How long have I had bats in my apartment? Have they heard me having sex? How did my room mate, who left for a concert shortly before I discovered bat numero uno, miss the one in the living room?

As the animal song fades out, listen for the mournful hoot and chirp of the night. The fire dies and it is their world again.




Blogger Alcarwen said...

wow, this is totally bringing back memories of you chasing after those horrifyingly large bugs from my dorm three years ago... if I remember properly, you were muttering prayers for them in arabic before flushing them down the toilet.

I'll take those bats from you... I need them to combat the mosquito populating that is coming out of my nextdoor neighbor's pool that hasn't been cleaned in about 7 years.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous qkslvrwolf said...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if my medically inclined family is to be believed, its a really, really good idea to go tell a doctor you've been in contact with a bat and get a rabies shot. Apparently the suckers don't even have to bite you to give it to you. My folks are always telling stories about people who wake up with bats in their rooms and then contract rabies.

At least look it up on the web and see what you find.

As for zoos...I've always disliked zoos for the very reasons you just listed. The damn things always just depress me. Animals should be free, not caged. It strips all the nobility out of the wild. I recently had my opinion on that confirmed by a trip to the St Louis zoo with a friend and family who are all big zoo fans...I really don't get it.

Ah well. There is very little I understand, I think.

5:48 PM  

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