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November 3, 2015
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December 9, 2015
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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.

Bats

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.

Germany-1

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.

Germany-2

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.

Germany-4

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.

Germany-3

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.

666

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.

Bat-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.

  • Heather Baker

    You really are one with Kevin!

  • Begoña F Martin

    A bat slipped into my brother’s room back in my born town, about 15 years ago. It was a 14th floor flat. He grabbed it with his bare hand and let it go through the window. The poor bat bit my brother a bit, and my poor brother had to have anti-rabies vaccination for humans for a few days.

  • Jessica Troy

    I had a similar experience when I was about 5 years old. A bat was flying around my room’s ceiling fan, so I hid from its dive bombing in a pile of stuffed animals. My mom heard my screaming, came in and saw the bat, screamed, and closed the door with me still in the pile. Dad finally came to the rescue and nabbed my winged roommate. A bit traumatic for a kid, I must say.

  • Allison Pratt

    I live in a rural area and after dark bugs and bats are my nemesis. I have no love for either. When I was a young twenty something one got in the cabin and kept diving at me every time I attempted to get off the floor. It took an hour to get it outside with my sister and I trying to get it out the door with a boat paddle and broom. It was ridiculous.

  • Matt Holck

    Bob’s Batman is Night Wing ©?
    $M built flying sonar bat mech suit
    3/3 stealth

    one sleeps to shake apart thoughts constructed while awake
    it helps to pull the thread to untangle them

    beehive visible through the hole in my closet in my attic
    in the shack behind the church where I lived
    for a few years

    latex gives me rashes

    after crossing a river steal bridge

    we lunched underneath down the ridge
    a bat neath the steal far above
    circled, wove but never dove

  • Autumn Shreve

    I had a similar experience while staying at my grandfather’s house years ago. I was sleeping in the living room and awoke to the sound of something beating around inside the furnace. When I opened the door to the furnace, a huge bat flew directly into my face and then all around the room, running into everything. Being the kind-hearted person I am, I couldn’t kill the poor thing, so instead I ran it into the bathroom. Once it had calmed down enough, I somehow grabbed it and carried it outside. How stupid, right? When I told my grandfather about my noble deed of the day, he didn’t believe me. I’m still wondering how the old fart slept through the whole thing.

  • Caitlin Wolle

    There’s a family of bats that live in the studio I work out of, we get along pretty well, I usually leave something for them to snack on and I think that helps the relationship.

  • Tara Wilks Robinson

    In the 8 years that we’ve been in our current house, we’ve had 5 bats get in. The first one I found hanging from my toddler’s bag of bath toys, just as I was lowering her into the tub. I quickly changed my mind about the bath and called my husband, letting him know what was waiting in the bathroom for him when he got home. (I have since lost my bat-catching virginity.)

  • Arielle

    What a story! Your way of telling it is hysterical and entertaining to read as always.
    Shockingly, I didn’t know that about the expression! Now I can just reason that I’m bonding with my bats.

  • Aimee Black

    Squee I gave Terrance those 6’s!!!

  • Destiny Grave

    Squee I gave Terrance those 6’s!!!!!

  • Petra Beuving

    You know what, I can’t say something similar ever happened to me.. But what I do know is that everytime I visit Germany, which is quite often since I live in the country next to it, a lot of my friends live there and it has a lot of awesome (metal)festivals and conventions, weird things seem to happen.. So to be honest it really doesn’t suprise me anymore to hear things like this from other people.. Was nice meeting you there and I hope you had a great time in Germany! 😉

  • Amber Bree

    It was the year 1992, I was on holiday with extended family on a houseboat, traveling down a river to Laughlin for an even more gruesome family reunion. My dearest cousin Nick and I sought introverted solace in each other the entire trip. One day, my sixteen year old self was hiding “out” with my then eleven year old cousin on the top of the houseboat. I was scribbling while Nick was teaching himself songs we were listening to on his fairly new acoustic guitar. I was not completely aware of my sun allergy at the time (due to having systemic lupus), but after many hours hiding out in the sun (I know it sounds contradictory), I succumbed to my fatigue and fell asleep with my cd walkman on. When I awoke, it was sun down and the song, ‘The Figurehead’ by the cUre was filling my ears. Feeling like a sloth stuck in molasses, I laid there slowly waking when I noticed what looked like a blanket of crows circling over me. Once I gained my focus, I saw that one swooping down on me was not a bird at all, but a bat ! Tons upon tons of bats ! I shrieked and nearly fell down the stairs running for my life. The rest of the trip, the family taunted me of how they thought I would be so pleased to be in the presence of my ‘own kind’. All I could think of was ‘rabies’ and the lyrics, “I will never be clean again”.

    • Little Nikki

      LoL so this is what spawned your other post!

      • Amber Bree

        Hahaha, yes this man motivated me to give a shout out to my cousin, and ask my Aunties if they remembered. The entire trip, in all the photos, I am wearing the headphones. 😉

  • Erin

    My favorite was tech week of Hairspray. As always the villain, Velma, sings her big and loud balled Mrs. Baltimore Crabs but when the final note was belted it shook up tens of bats that all came bursting out of the red, back lit catwalks behind her in the most glorious and ceremonious way imaginable. She froze instantly, terrified of what the beasts wanted from her, but as a crew we only wished we could’ve found a way to add it to the blocking. It was one of the purest moments of theater magic I have ever witnessed, thanks to bats.

  • Shannon Mullins

    we had one in our kitchen once. It was amusing watching my uncle and step father running through the house with fishing nets,a tennis racket and and a baseball bat.Needless to say 4 hours later and shattered kitchen cabinet door the bat was caught and unceremoniously discharged from our world. I felt bad for the poor little guy.

  • Tiffany Kintzel

    I had a bat fly into my head before when I was outside… had no idea what hit me I thought some ass hole threw something or a acorn fell off a tree. Till I saw the bat knocked out on the ground..
    I guess being hard headed worked out well for myself that day.

  • Stephanie Brown

    While I don’t have a bat story myself, bats are quite common in Savannah, Georgia where I grew up. Many of the tourists would say, “Oh, look! The birds are still out at night here!” And I’m thinking, “Those aren’t birds!!”

    Terrance, I’m glad that you didn’t try to extract the bat yourself- at least more than trying to make it leave on its own. I wouldn’t like hearing that you had to have a round of rabies shots from a bat bite… Glad you were ok…

  • Yvonne Hinshaw

    Oh Terrance, I’m dying with laughter over here. When I was in college I was a hall director for one of the campus residence halls. We had an infestation of bats in the attic. I’m talking hundreds of bats here. The bats would enter the girls’ rooms through air vents. Sometimes a girl would have half a dozen bats flying around in her room. You could always tell when a bat had entered a girls room because they would scream and and start running down the hall (many times in just their underwear). For some reason they never scared me. I would just grab a broom and chase them away. It took us about 6 months to get rid of them all. It was the source of a lot of laughter for me and my staff but we were glad to see them go at the end of it.

  • Little Nikki

    When I was little, mosquitos would eat me alive. Where I grew up in SoCal there was a canyon with a few caves full of bats. My mom had a 20’x20′ strawberry garden, strawberries=mosquitos, and bats love mosquitos. I vividly recall my mom calling me outside when I was 6 to come look at the bats swarming in out back yard, and explaining to me that they were eating my mortal enemies, aka the mosquitos. They became my favourite animals instantly, and they still are to this day. My entire fb feed seems to be dominated by Australian bat rescues, videos of adorable bat pups with twitching ears.

    Terrance, I’m seriously cracking up over your experience!

  • DizzyIzzyM

    When I was a kid, a bat got into a room that I was sharing with my brother and cousins (It was in the middle of scenic French nowhere, was insanely hot, and the bat somehow got in under the shutters). My brother heard it flapping about (as bats do), and unleashed this truly unholy screech, jumped onto my bed (dislocating my knee cap) and managed to wake up the entire house (some 20 odd people) … because he thought it was a giant moth. The best part was when my 4 year old cousin saw the bat, said it was ‘cool’, and just went straight back to sleep, while her 12 year old cousin was hyperventilating like a dying wildebeest and everyone else was trying to catch the fluffy bugger. Never letting him forget that one!

    Also, the French for ‘bat’ is ‘la chauve-souris’, which apparently means ‘bald mouse’. Makes less sense than German, but hey, that’s French.

  • Sam

    This is the story of how my brother’s room was named The Batcave. When I was about 15 or so a bat managed to get into my brother’s bedroom one night around midnight or so. My brother had his ceiling light on and thought that the bulb was flickering only to realize that it was this bat bouncing off the glass globe that covered the actually bulb. He rushed down the stairs where my mother, sister and father were, pale as a ghost, yelling about the bat. My father grabbed two pairs of very heavy duty leather gloves and one of the cat boxes and both he and my brother headed upstairs to his room. Now my mother, sister and I stayed downstairs, in order to keep out of the way, but from the sounds that were coming from upstairs it seemed like some sort of physical comedy show upstairs. We would heard frantic bursts of crashing, banging and slamming followed by yells of, “Where the hell is it?!” then silence for a few moments only to loop back into the crashing. This went on for well over 45 minutes before they finally managed to catch it and shove it in the cat box. They released it as short ways away from the house and, thankfully so, it never returned. From that night forward we all refer to my brother’s bedroom as The Batcave.

  • LunaticKeith

    My favorite creature is a bat. California Myotis if you want a specific breed. I have no clue why considering when I’m startled by them I pretty much have the same reaction you had. I think the best story I have is when I was skinny dipping with some friends one of the guys started shouting and covering their bits. When asked whats wrong he pointed to the water and there were bats skimming it after all the critters that survived along its surface. He thought since they were meat eaters they would be after us and the group left it to me to convince him otherwise. He muttered about them being no better than flying rats for the rest of the evening, sour puss that he is. Thinking on it now, they probably were California Myotis based on size, diet, and location.

  • Emily Greene

    Aww, at least, no one was hurt by the bat and the bat was unharmed. Granted, your reactions to the bat, even if understandable, are funny. (As someone who went away to a Girl Scout camp and had a winged creature of the night hanging over your bed…. not exactly the most pleasant experience, unless you love bats… or don’t care about potentially contracting rabies. :P)

    Germany is a beautiful country, if you take the time to explore it more fully and pending your taste in travel and history.

    From 1986 (I think?) to early 1990, I lived in an English speaking area used by the American Army called Roman Landing (which has long since been demolished) in the town of Butzbach. Not to wax lyrical, if one were to visit downtown Butzbach, especially the downtown area, it sometimes resembles something out of an old fairy tale.

    There are other places in Germany (and throughout Europe) that reveal a fascinating and, at times, tragic history and culture. For a music geek, especially, it can be a paradise.

    One of these days, if I save up enough, I have thought of going back to my heart’s home and being able to travel throughout the remainder of Germany and the other countries in Europe. It is definitely worth to see, at least, more than once. 🙂

    BTW, unless you are not keen on operatic music, or you don’t wish to be reminded of the incident, I recommend the opera ‘Die Fledermaus’ by Strauss.

  • Samantha S

    For some weird reason my grandparents have always had furred friends living in their upstairs. I have no idea why they’ve never hired someone to dispose of them.
    We used to sleep up there. I’ve only had a bat in my hair once — I’ve been appropriately terrified of them ever since.