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Die Fledermaus

Ever hear the expression ‘to have bats in the belfry’? It means to be crazy. A belfry is the top part of a church, specifically the bell tower. Since our heads are the topmost parts of our bodies, to say that someone has bats in their belfry is to imply that they have a bunch of bats flappin’ around inside their skull. This expression is also where the terms ‘batty’ and ‘batshit crazy’ are derived. Apparently, the flight patterns of bats are so erratic and wild that anyone with bats in their brains would most certainly be mad. I had a batty experience recently that confirmed this sentiment.


I visited Germany earlier this month, my first trip to Deutschland. The visit was centered around an appearance I’d booked at a horror convention. After roughly a sixteen-hour travel day, I checked into a hotel in the German city of Essen, had a meal, vegged out for a bit on the internet, and then passed the fuck out. It was late, I was jet-lagged and had to be on the convention floor bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the following morning.

An hour into my slumber, I awoke to strange sounds within my hotel room. At first, it sounded like moths hitting a lampshade, but the sounds amplified as I groggily found my way to consciousness. The noises were bizarre. Perhaps I was dreaming? It sounded like somebody banging their head against the hotel room’s window, and then shrieking in pain.

The Molting Comic: Joseph

Alarmed, I reached over and clumsily flicked on the lamp on the nightstand beside me. The light immediately drew whatever was making the unsettling sounds towards me. My eyes and heart quickly focused. It was a bat. A big one. Circling above my bed. Dive bombing in figure eight patterns towards me.

I cocooned myself in the hotel room’s comforter and leapt from the bed. The bat gave chase. I ducked into the bathroom and shut the door, locking it out behind me.


After a few minutes, I caught my breath and peeked back into the main portion of my hotel room. The bat had ceased its wild, aggressive careening and was quietly hanging from a curtain on the opposite side of the room.

I stealthily grabbed a chair and propped open the door to the room, hoping that I could incite the bat to fly out and into the hallway. You know, let the other guests contend with it. Taking cover behind the comforter, which was still wrapped around my body (I was wearing only skivvies otherwise), I creaked open the restroom door, just wide enough to squeeze an arm through.


I began to throw things at the bat. The hotel’s mini shampoo and lotion bottles. My hairbrush. My shoes. And myriad other projectiles. But the creature didn’t stir. It was as if, after terrorizing me from shuteye, it’d decided to hibernate.

Tiptoeing from behind the safety of the restroom door, I inched towards the hotel’s phone, which was sitting on a desk halfway between me and the bat. I dialed the front desk. The person that answered spoke little English so he thought I was requesting a bat be sent to my room—presumably of the baseball variety. After a few unsuccessful communication attempts, we ended the call.


A few minutes later, a member of the hotel’s staff—a young woman—came to my aid. She was attractive, which immediately made me aware of how ridiculous I looked wrapped in the comforter… and how suspicious the undergarments and lotion bottles tossed about my room must’ve appeared. But she was very pleasant and hid her judgements well. After speaking with her, it was obvious that she was sent my way because of her firm grasp of English. I told her what happened and she seemed shocked (up until that moment, I just assumed that bats were a common occurrence in German hotel rooms… but this was her first batjob).

I pointed to the bat, which was still perched from the curtain. Earnestly, she got on the phone and called someone. The conversation was entirely in German. The only words I understood were ‘die fledermaus’, but based on the urgency of her tone, I deduced that a bat specialist would soon be on the way.


Minutes passed. Then: footsteps approached. I anticipated a fellow in a space suit with a tranquilizer gun and iron cage. Instead, a soft-spoken gent, who couldn’t have been more than twenty years old, entered. He brought with him nary a bat leash, nor net. His only apprehension tool: a pair of latex gloves, which covered his hands.

Calmly, this begloved fellow slid a chair beneath the hanging bat. Stepping up, he cupped the creature in his latex-covered palms. The bat screeched and hissed as he pulled one of the gloves off and over its body, capturing die fledermaus within the latex. Holding the writhing glove like a small pouch, the young fellow unceremoniously exited my room, saying that he planned to release my temporary roommate into the wild.


Alone in my de-batted hotel room, I reflected on the absurdity of my debut German experience, and tried in vain to fall back asleep.

The following day, I shared my batty encounter with some of the convention’s other guests. This was a mistake. Throughout the entire convention weekend, these folks would pass by my table, flap their arms like batwings and sing Na na na na Na na na na Fledermaus! Thomas Ian Nicholas from the American Pie series even bought me this nifty bat top hat.


So, that’s my bat story. Have any of you ever had a bat in your belfry? Please share in the “Comments” section below.