|Can you spot the difference in the two photos?|
I had just achieved the perfect introvert day. For 24 hours, I had neither seen nor spoken to another human person. I mean, there were some whatsapp conversations, but no phone calls, no visitors. I watched TV shows illegally downloaded on my computer while reading a book at the same time and eating all the junk food in my house. I also made up a creative new recipe for stuffed lasagna noodles I had left in my house that included enough red peppers to make me cough and sneeze through the whole cooking part of the meal prep. I did some other exciting things too, and eventually ended up in bed with my newly fixed AC slightly working, but mostly blocking out the sounds of the music blaring from the nearby bars. I also took some sleeping aid meds that someone gave me, just to test the possibility of sleeping through the night. I discovered a few hours later that the medicine does not work.
|Doesn't that look delicious?|
Warning: if you don't like spicy food, don't try to eat it. You will die.
Also, I've started sending photos to my mom whenever I cook dinner for myself.
It gives her a bit of hope for my survival.
I mean, if the medicine was really making me sleep, shouldn’t I sleep through fluttering whooshing sounds in my room? It wasn’t super loud like the mice in my house in South Sudan who chewed through plastic containers to get to food. In fact, first I thought it was a piece of paper, loosened by the fan and the AC that had flown off the wall where I had duct-taped it. I heard it crash into the wall over my head and looked up to see if the paper I thought had fallen was still there…and it was. So then I chalked it up to some weird mechanical AC noise.
Since childhood, I’ve had this fear of being stabbed in the back while I’m sleeping, which actually, wouldn’t be a bad way to go because you’re dead before you know it is coming, and anticipation is always the worst part. But to protect myself from sneaky night-time back-stabbers, I usually sleep with something behind my back. But when I’m concerned that there is a serial back-stabbing killer in my house, I lie flat on my back, for protection. And then I think of how I should be sleeping with that giant kitchen knife I never use in bed with me—just in case I need to fight back. But this time I knew there was no one in the house with me because I would have heard the doors open (they’re loud) and there is no other way to get into my house, unless you remove the bars from the windows (also loud) or, in this case, you come in through AC.
|Me, in my night-time tiara, sleeping on my back,|
kitchen knife ready by my side for protection.
I am thinking about growing out my bangs, though...
It was while lying on my back thinking about knives, that I noticed a big black thing fly right above my over-sized nose, causing me to yell and flip on the light. At least now I knew what I was dealing with. And I have precedent for this, so I knew what I needed to do—run out of the room screaming. This I accomplished, slamming the door behind me and then standing in my living room trying to decide my next move. Did I want to sleep on the couch for the rest of the night? If I did that, how much damage would the evil bat do in my bedroom before I could get someone to come remove him? Technically, I could have removed him myself, but I’m not good at killing vertebrates. Invertebrates I can do, as they are more easily smashed with a shoe and they don’t have gross blood. Still, as a female, I believe that if there is a male around, the rules of chivalry call for him to take on the role of hunter AND gatherer (yes, clean up that dead squished body and flush it, that’s a part of your job!). I, in turn, promise to scream and jump around and make him feel like a true hero. But with bats, rats, and other mammals, I’m not even going to try. I feel like earning less money overall than the men, having monthly periods, and the anticipation of menopause and other unfortunate side effects of having two X chromosomes means that I get to find someone to rid my house of rodents.
So standing in my living room at 2am, I considered my options. Calling my colleagues in the wee hours of the morning to drive over to my house to kill a bat seemed like an imposition. I do have two perfectly good night guards who sleep through the night outside the house, in spite of the loud music from the bars, who theoretically would notice if someone jumped our fence to try to steal the tires off my car. I thought it would be a good time for at least one of these guys to earn his keep by helping me out. The problem is that I was in an unfortunate state of undress and my clothes were in the room with the bat. This is why you should never put away your laundry. Sadly for me, basking in the glow of the perfect introvert day, I’d mustered up enough energy to actually put all my clothes away, something that rarely happens. Now I didn’t have any lying in a pile on the couch, as I usually do. Let this be a lesson to you: tidiness can be dangerous. Obviously, though, I can’t go down to the guards without being mostly covered because requesting their help to remove a bat from my room at 2am is already going to raise questions about my morality. "So…she’s asking for me to help remove a bat from her room at 2am? Riiiiiiiight….she clearly wants me. We all know foreign girls are easy…"
So I took a deep breath, ran back into my room, grabbed my sarong, ran back out and slammed the door again. I made myself decent and then went downstairs to break my 24+ hours of non-human contact to humiliate myself by asking a man I only slightly know (I can’t remember his name even) to come up to my bedroom and hunt a bat.
|A rough sketch of the bat that I did from memory|
I flopped as loudly as possible down the stairs in my flipflops, hoping to give them some warning. Then I stood awkwardly by my car, willing them to wake up, using the power of my mind. I think it worked (I’m so powerful!) because one rolled over and blinked a few times while I asked in a pathetic voice if he could come up and help me kill a giant bat in my bedroom. In the interest of full disclosure, I wasn’t 100% sure of its size, but the larger the bat, the greater the need for outside help, clearly. He repeated back to me what I said a few times, clarifying the animal and its size, “Une chauve-souris? Une grosse chauve-souris?”* Then he confirmed that he would come up and help but continued to sit there, looking at me pointedly. “Right, so, I’ll just go up and wait…” And he put on pants and a shirt before coming up to my house, like a gentleman.
|See? I even spelled it right. |
You probably think I grew up in American now.
Meanwhile, I grabbed my broom and this spider web cleaner thing that I never wanted, but the ladies insisted I get as a crucial part of my house-keeping tool kit. It looks like a fuzzy koosh ball on a long stick. It’s for cleaning spider webs out of the corners of the ceiling. I maintain that a broom could do that just as well, and refused to get one until they asked me one day while I was preoccupied and handing out money indiscriminately, and now I have a spider-web-cleaning-koosh-ball-on-a-stick. Years from now if I ever have children and if they ever learn how to read and decide that their mother’s life isn’t too horribly un-cool to read about, it might cause problems that they learn they can get money out of me if I am suitably distracted. My nieces and nephews have learned to open their eyes wide, tilt their heads and smile, and they get everything they want out of me. I’m hoping I don’t have children with those powers.
Anyway, I had the sticks as protection from the bat, and also, if it should come up, the night guard. NG came into my house (well-lit, all doors open) and I showed him into the bedroom where we spent some time looking around for the bat. I think we probably only looked for a couple of minutes, but I was a bit panicky that we wouldn’t find it, and NG would get a different idea of why I invited him up in the middle of the night. I also knew that the Thing was there, and would torment me for the rest of my life if I didn’t get him (I'm pretty sure bats are immortal like vampires).
While running around the bedroom, beating at the curtains and the backpack on top of the closet, I finally noticed a leathery wing peaking out of the top drawer of my dresser, which happens to be where I keep my underwear and bikinis. The drawers don’t close right. Dressers are inferior pieces of furniture, they never seem to close right unless you open every drawer and close them all at the same time while jiggling the bottom drawer’s handle with your foot—not worth it. So in my house, drawers always remain slightly open. The Bat had taken advantage of this and decided to burrow in that drawer.
Once I noticed him, I jumped back, while screaming and backing out of the room. In a concerning turn of events, the NG also squealed and jumped back, not giving me much confidence in his ability to conquer the Bald Mouse. “Tu as peur?!” I asked him, and then insisted, “You can’t be afraid of it! You have to kill it!” He affirmed his bravery and took the broom and spider koosh and began whacking at the bat. The bat scrambled deeper into my drawers (both meanings of the word apply—Dad, that joke is for you), and the NG poked around, trying to pinch the bat in between the broom handles to get him out. I respect that move, not wanting to touch the creepy thing myself. (Bats have rabies.) I hid in the living room behind my yoga mat, which I intended to use to protect me from injured flying bats, dripping blood. I know about the puddles of blood that leak out of bats, grâce à Felix who loved leaving half-chewed carcasses around the house for my enjoyment. I heard lots of thwapping and hacking and bat noises (sounds like the sneeze of a jackal) and when I peaked around the door, I noticed my undergarments hanging out of the furniture. NG is probably wondering why I have so many sports bras and why most of my underwear is black. God knows he has seen it all now.
After about 15 minutes, he came out with the dead bat pinched between the sticks. He dropped it on the floor, and it clearly didn’t move—a good sign. Also, there was minimal blood. I guess not being chewed on by a cat keeps most of the blood in the body. NG nicely swept it over the balcony to the ground below and he must have generously cleaned up (CHIVALRY) because I didn’t see it when I left the house the next day.
|The dead body. It looks small because it|
was taken from a safe distance.
I went back to bed, but I have been hesitant to use the AC since then, as I’m pretty sure that’s how the bat got in. AC is dangerous, people. Sleeping with a frozen water bottle is good enough for me.
|Clearly not bald.|
Definitely ready to eat your head in one bite.
* Interesting fact: in French a bat is a “bald mouse.” I don’t know why, as they both have equal amounts of hair in my experience (which is extensive), but whatever. Also, if you speak French, you will notice that we spoke of the bat as “grosse” (fat) not “grande” (big). But again, whatever. He said “grosse” first, and I thought it worked on a bi-lingual French and English level.