Letterpress List No. 49: Bats in the Belfry

Our roommate walked in and screamed.

Not to worry. He does this whenever we accidentally leave the overhead fluorescent lights on in the part of the studio space that we share and which serves as the Typecast Press/Chris Hartlove Lounge. The screaming’s partly in fun, partly to send an unsubtle reminder that he’d prefer the room a bit dimmer. He’s a photographer with eyes that are keenly sensitive to light. But we need to work in that space — maybe just to get a better look at a color match — sometimes, too.

“OK, we get it. Sorry,” Mary will say, hitting the light switch, and Chris will say his hellos and retire to his darkroom turned office, which, naturally, features low lighting.

Mary loves her spaces bright. She’s a lamp nut. Our main studio has lights that hang from the ceiling, two small table lamps, “light box art” (an architectural photo printed on acetate and mounted on a long, vertically hung, fluorescent light fixture), a bank of spotlights above the C&P 8×12 and plans for more, more, more.

Shop Boy, like Chris, can see in the dark. Mary? She sees freaks.

“Bats! I’m surrounded by bats!”

True story: Mary and Shop Boy were enjoying the end of a sunset in our Denver back yard when we heard an odd sound. We looked along the roofline of our cute little bungalow for the source, agreeing that it seemed to be coming from the chimney. Before Shop Boy could even shift into denial mode — weird sounds mean home repairs … not my, um, thing — a little black object flew past our heads.

“Bird,” Shop Boy said.

“You sure?” Mary asked.

“Sure,” Shop Boy lied, as another bat took to the skies. “OK, maybe not.”

Within minutes, it was fairly obvious that we did not merely have bats in the chimney. We had ourselves a rookery. We ducked inside, away from the swarm, and immediately began debating a course of action.

Smoke ’em out? Nope, we were told: “They’ll come right through the wall, into the house.”

Poison? Forget it. Think of the stink of a chimney full of little corpses! Plus, bats are good to have around, eating their weight in mosquitoes and the like. You just don’t want them inside your cave, you know?

Mary went on the hunt for a humane exterminator, finding, as luck would have it, a young gentleman so handsome that his girlfriend followed him from job to job to dissuade his sharing of more than a gander at that buff body with his customers. The girlfriend didn’t know from bats, but she knew from human nature.

Hercules’ plan? Get most of the bats out — by hand! — then build a cage around the chimney that would let any stragglers out that night but wouldn’t let them back in. And up the ladder he went. In his bare hand would go, out a sleepy bat would come. Tossed one by one into the air, they flew desperately for cover from the midday sun. (Shop Boy wore wraparound sunglasses pretty much full time in Denver. Yeow.) One bat was so disoriented at suddenly being airborne that it flew sideways … right at the girlfriend, who squealed and tumbled heels over head with a loud crash into the thin metal doors of our little storage shed.

And when the eviction papers had been fully served, the exterminator dude placed the cage on the chimney — and another over a spot at the roofline that looked suspiciously like a place where homeless bats could roost. And that was that.


Mary (later that night): “Do you hear something?”

Shop Boy: “Nope. Probably just the wind.”

Mary (the next morning): “What are all these little holes in the screens?”

Shop Boy: “Them? Uh, those have been there a while.”

I’d pay for my denial.

One day, Mary was chatting with a visitor who’d also dealt with a bat infestation. “Oh, it was horrible,” the friend said. “For several nights, we’d hear them tearing at the screens, trying to get in every window.”

And a little light went on.

Had to run and get my shades to protect me from Mary’s glare.


Letterpress List No. 49

Hey, how about an hour’s worth of music to pick live bats from a chimney by or simply to dull the pain of that light-induced migraine? Most of these tunes should be available in the usual places. Goofy and great video links are to YouTube.

Bats in the BelfrySmokescreen (“I think they’re coming from the neighbor’s chimney.”)
When You Wish Upon a StarGene Simmons (This is known as denial.)
Seen the LightSupergrass (Not that Shop Boy or Chris needed it.)
CreepTLC (Dude’s chances of catting around? Exterminated.)
Bright Light FrightAerosmith (Denver’s 5,280 feet closer to the sun. Feels it.)
Bat Out of HellMeat Loaf (A rude awakening.)
Falling or FlyingGrace Potter & the Nocturnals (Falling … for Grace.)
Learn to FlyFoo Fighters (Up and away.)
Limelight Rush (Mary hates this band … maybe more than flying rodents.)
Coming HomeScorpions (Sorry, not tonight, my little friends.)
Over the MountainOzzy Osbourne (Dude’s batty.)
Fell on Black DaysSoundgarden (Again, not in Colorado.)
Mosquito SongQueens of the Stone Age (Go get ’em.)
The Midnight Special Creedence Clearwater Revival (Shine an ever-lovin’ light on me.)
Who Can It Be Now?Men at Work (Just the wind.)
You Want In, I Want OutJoan Jett (Black-hearted little monsters.)
Screaming for VengeanceJudas Priest (They wanted in.)
Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)Pat Travers Band (Just love the song.)
Overture to Die Fledermaus Johann Strauss II (“The Bat” … get it? Shop Boy is sooooo cultured.)

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