For those of you who watched Sesame Street as a child, you will know what the batty bat dance is. For those who don’t, press play below for a bit of Count von Count education.
Apparently when I was little, I used to do the Batty Bat dance a lot. I found myself revisiting this bat-themed dance at the age of 20, when – whilst innocently removing nail varnish before I went to sleep – I heard a thump behind the curtains. I looked up expecting to see that the windows had blown shut in the night breeze. Instead of that quite common occurrence, I saw an enormous bat come blasting through the parted curtains.
Ok I am exaggerating, the bats in France are no bigger than a flying mouse. But in that moment when a strange black thing came swooping into my room it seemed to be the size of a flying cat, with the wing span of a bald eagle. Needless to say I launched myself off my bed and sprinted for the door, my hands covering my head in my very own version of the Batty Bat dance.
When my Mum was a little girl, my Granddad told her on a holiday in Spain that bats would get caught in her long hair (whilst bats were flying overhead; aren’t Dads the best?). The fear of that happening was passed on from my Mum to me, and I had visions of this flapping rabid black beast being tangled up in my hair. It wasn’t until I got to the door that I realized I was forgetting something quite important in my quick escape; my younger sister sleeping peacefully in her own bed. Not for long, as I grabbed hold of her legs and shouted ‘Amy there’s a bat in the room, get out of bed, get out of bed!’
Poor Amy. When you’re fast asleep and your older sister wakes up screaming her head off to get out of bed she must have had a whole number of scenarios running through her mind. Earthquake, fire, a nuclear explosion…
Of course the next thing we did, after slamming shut our bedroom door, was to pelt into my parents room shouting ‘bat, bat, bat, there’s a bat, there’s a bat’. They had only just gone to bed themselves and so were still sat up reading, and looked over the top of their books at me with that expression they use when I see a money spider in my room and claim it’s a tarantula. I could see in their eyes that they thought I had been spooked by a pretty big moth, and my Dad slowly harrumphed out of bed and came to look. We all peered around the door in to my room; Scooby Doo-style with our heads in size order poking through the gap. We stood there for a good few minutes, me wondering how a bat the size of an vulture could hide in our small room and my parents probably wondering what the stress of university had done to me.
We eventually spied it, clinging onto the wall hanging behind my bed. I was instantly glad I had been sensible enough to leave the room and not hide under my covers, or I would have been in hysterics at this point.
“Oh god you’re right it’s a bat!” my Dad cried in amazement. Well I was glad to be proved right but insulted that he didn’t believe me until he saw it with his own eyes. It wasn’t until I saw it hanging onto the wall that I realized just how small it was. I could have fitted it in the palm of my hand, not that I wanted to. My Mum and I, completely convinced that it would get caught in our hair and bite us to death, shoved my Dad (who doesn’t have enough hair for insects to get caught in it never mind bats) into the room to deal with it.
We decided that it wasn’t going to leave the room back through the window, so the only thing to do was to catch it. Again, with my Mum and my sister and I peering through the door, my Dad crept across the room with a bowl in one hand and a book in the other. It was clinging to the curtain now, which made trapping it even more difficult, but he managed to pin it into the bowl and run to the front door without letting it go. I still to this day don’t know how my youngest sister, sleeping in the room just across the hall, wasn’t woken by all of this activity.
The little bat, for all of you who may be concerned, survived the incident unharmed and was released safely outside. We later figured out it was one of the small family of bats that lived behind our shutters, who had swept in and missed its typical landing spot. At that point I was just happy it was gone. I shut the windows, completely prepared to sweat the rest of the night rather than let it in again. I turned to the bed to crawl back in, but I spotted something scattered across the sheets and pillow.
“The bat crapped all over my bed!”
After a quick bed linen change, I went to sleep dreaming of rabies and bats tangled up in my hair, and how Count von Count from Sesame Street was much cuter than bats are in real life…