Friends often remind me of things I hadn’t considered much in the last 50 years.
For example, on a mountain summer night, my family and I returned to the cabin.
Mountain nights are inky dark, where without a flashlight, you can barely see your hand in front of your face. Even in August, the cabin gets so chilly at night, we open the flue and start a fire in the living room fireplace.
There is no television in the cabin. Nevertheless, the reception is nil in the mountains. We content ourselves to huddling on the floor, wrapped in scratchy wool blankets, playing Gin Rummy. To contain the warmth of the living room, heavy drapes, musty with woody dampness divide the living and dining room.
Mother is two rooms away in the kitchen making a surprise dessert. The dining room that separates the two rooms is dark. The kitchen is lit by a single light bulb that dangles from an electrical cord attached to the ceiling. Mother works in her own shadow.
Bored of the card game, I leave my family and the friends who have joined us that evening. I go to the kitchen to help Mother.
“Dessert is almost ready,” she says.
“Go and set out plates, forks and napkins in the dining room will you?” Mother asks.
I turn to walk back into the darkened dining room toward the living room where the firelight dances. Just as I pass through the doorway, a flying silhouette moves from left to right and back again just ahead of me. I shriek with every ounce of my being, “A baaaaaaaaaaaaaat!”
In a millisecond, I pivot 180 degrees, and (still shrieking) run directly past Mother, out the back door.
It is then that I realize that a bat has an acute sense of hearing. It instinctively follows the sound of my voice, but it is blocked from a hasty exit by the slamming screen door behind me, leaving it stunned and fluttering wildly in the kitchen.
Mother, whose quiet preparation has been shattered by my screams, and who is now screaming from fear and confusion, sees the bat and begins shrieking, “I’m trapped! I’m trapped! Somebody! HeeeeeeeeeeeeLP!”
Prince Charming rushes from the living room, tennis racket in hand (evidently the only immediately available weapon.) He storms into the dining room expecting an intruder. Meanwhile the bat has flown back into the darkness of the dining room where it finds comfort in the drapes from the light and chaos.
The children in the living room are screaming now, the entire home in an uproar. I stand outside, safe from the bat, but probably vulnerable to a bear attack from the woods behind me.
Prince charming whacks the bat, capturing it between the tennis racket and drapes, grabs a wing through the stringed grid work, walks it outside and releases it. Though stunned, it immediately escapes into the blackness of the night sky.
How could we have known there was a bat in the flue?
This is why I am called: “Bat Woman.”