REMEMBERING BILL, THE BAT MAN
By Lydia Bogar
When old friends die, we try to remember the happy times, the jokes and laughs, the parties and vacations. Sometimes, though, that’s a stretch—as it was with Bill.
A year or so after my divorce, I dated a man who had grown up with my ex-husband. Bill was a carpenter with a young daughter, two interesting and diverse sisters, and parents who lived down the street. Unlike my ex-husband, he loved to dance and be social. His friends welcomed me, including some that I knew from my job at the Town Hall. But Bill had a problem.
Bill loved a beer (or three) at noon on Saturday, whether he was watching a ballgame or working. One of his favorite social venues was the Knights of Columbus Hall. Not because of the Catholic connection but because what this group of Knights were good at in the early 80’s was drinking–a lot.
On Tuesdays, the Knights went bowling (and drinking) at an alley within spitting distance from my house. On one of those Tuesday nights in the spring, a nice breeze blew in from the west, and I opened my windows to catch the fresh air. Around 2 am, a noise woke me up. Not the girls. Nothing electrical or mechanical. Must be an animal in the backyard, I thought. I rolled over and went back to sleep, but within minutes, the noise woke me again.
This time, I turned on the light. And when I did, something flew across the room. I screamed, turned off the light, reached for my robe, and rushed to close the doors to the girls’ rooms. That bird was not going to crap all over my house! So, with flashlight in hand and a large towel over my shoulder, I began my search for my intruder. Hearing the noise again, I realized it wasn’t a bird. It was a bat–and he was scared. With the window fully open, I flapped the bath towel around in an attempt to chase the darn thing back outside, but my efforts were in vain. I called Bill.
After at least a dozen rings, he finally picked up, and soon, his truck pulled into the driveway. He came to the door with a plywood box which proved to be of no help. Finally, Bill grabbed my chenille bathmat, quietly sneaked up on the creature, threw the mat around him, tossed him—mat and all—outside, and slammed the window shut. He headed for his truck, waved good night, and I tumbled back into bed.
Within what seemed like ten minutes, the alarm went off, and the day began. I didn’t tell the girls about the bat, nor did I mention it to my co-workers at the Town Hall. Mid-afternoon, as I drank another cup of coffee to stay awake, Bill arrived in my office and told me he had had a weird dream. He said he dreamed he came to my house during the night and followed a bat into my bedroom through an open window. Then he said that he was going to stop drinking. Somehow, with a straight face, I replied that, yes, that was a weird dream and that abstinence was probably a good idea.
Bill never heard the true story, but I shared it with his sisters at his funeral, and they laughed along with me. Funny, the laughs that bond us.
There has never been another bat inside my house. The few that fly around the back yard at dusk don’t give me a second glance. Maybe the story about that long ago warm Tuesday evening in the spring has been passed down through the bat generations and–remembering Bill the Bat Man–they keep their distance.
Renaissance woman Lydia Bogar has been English teacher, health care professional and more. She joined BOLLI in the spring of 2016 after returning home from a stint in South Carolina where she dipped into another OLLI program. “It’s good to be here!” she exclaims. (And it’s good to have her.)