Thursday, August 11, 2011

It Ain’t Over 'Till the Bat Lady Screams


I knew Michele from some graduate classes we had together at the University of Arkansas. Michele has about her an air of erudition. She is calm and in control. She is one of the most creative people I’ve ever known, and her sense of humor is second to none. Great posture.
Student Services at U of A was looking to hire two counselors. This coincided perfectly with my graduation date; I would have the required master’s degree just in time.
I was hired for one of the positions and Michele was hired for the other. I started a couple of weeks before she did. This was around mid October. One day, Michele came in to look the place over. We were visiting in my new office.
Michele was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. I saw what I took to be a bat made with puff paint (or whatever that stuff is) affixed to her shirt, hanging upside down just above her left back pocket. It looked really good. I figured Michele had made it. I complimented her on the bat, a job well done. She thought I was kidding.
“No, really. There’s a bat on your shirt. Would I make up something like that?”
“Yes, you would. Just to get me to look.”
“I’m as serious as can be.”
Rolling her eyes, Michele pulled the shirt around and took a look. She saw the bat, but you would have thought she saw a pale rider on a pale horse, drinking tequila, breathing fire and eating puppies. She screamed and ran out of the room. I grabbed a stick that was used for propping the window open and ran behind her, hoping she would stop so I could somehow use the stick to get rid of the bat—and kind of hoping she’d continue to outdistance me so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. I had no idea how to get a live bat off of a sweatshirt and I sure didn’t want it on me.
We were in a building just west of Old Main. We were on the first floor. There was a wide staircase leading to offices and classrooms on the second floor.
Michele was running past the staircase, making for the front door.
A sociology professor was on her way downstairs. She did not see the bat. All she saw was Michele, obviously terrified, running and yelling, “Get him off me! Get him off me!” And, of course, she saw me chasing after Michele with a stick.
The professor hastened her pace, intending to tackle me. People were coming out of offices, pointing and shouting. All Hell was breaking loose and Michele was running like a bat out of it.
Fortunately, Michele stopped running once she got outside, preferring instead to dance in circles. One of our tutors walked up and said, “Aw, that’s just a baby bat.” He grabbed the battling by its wings and peeled it off Michele’s shirt.
There was a bat house on a tree next to Old Main. The tutor returned the battling to the house. Michele returned to her senses. People returned to their offices, most probably grateful for the diversion and a new story to tell. The professor told me what she thought had been happening. It was great.
On Michele’s first official day at work, she opened her mailbox and hundreds of tiny plastic bats spilled out onto the floor. I have no idea how that happened.

(I am publishing this story with Michele’s permission. See what I mean about her sense of humor?)

2 comments:

  1. Ahh, Tom, you've got my sides hurting, man!! Love this story!!

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  2. I attest that this is a true story. There is one small detail that Tom left out. I was standing on the lawn in front of Old Main, desperate to get the bat off of me. I was just about to pull my sweatshirt off over my head when the student intervened. It was a tough choice: wear a bat or wear nothing but a bra in public! Fortunately, a quick-thinking student saved me from further humiliation. The bat glitter in my mail box was better than bat guano on my back! Thanks, Tom, for capturing this memorable moment.

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