By Lydia Hope Wilen / New York City
It all started when I read an article about the quality of one’s sleep being improved with one simple step: before going to bed, open a window. Instead of breathing stale air, the open window will enhance ventilation and airflow in the bedroom, reducing carbon dioxide levels, allowing you to breathe fresh air and sleep better.
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
I’ve lived in my apartment for several decades and never, never opened the bedroom window. But who can’t do with a better night sleep? The window wouldn’t budge. The many paint jobs seem to have sealed the deal. With the help of a hammer, I was able to loosen each side enough to open the window about five inches, and immediately felt the cool air waft in. Enjoying deep breaths of refreshing air, I had a wonderful night’s sleep.
A NOISE ANNOYS
The next night, before getting into bed, I became aware of the flutter of the Venetian blinds. You’ve probably heard the sound of quivering slats as air prances through them. That sound was getting on my nerves. So, I raised the blinds enough to silence the twitching slats and once again, slept soundly through the night.
The weather took a drastic turn with the season’s unseasonable heat wave. To prevent the hot air from blasting my bedroom, I shut the window and kept it shut at bedtime.
That original article with tips for a good night sleep also said not to watch TV and not to use tech devices, but to read a few pages of a book. I was in bed, reading a book when I heard a peculiar sound. There’s a valance on the curtains, attached with double-sided tape. The day before, I had noticed that a few small sections were unattached. I thought the sound might be the valance continuing to detach from the curtains. I looked up and nothing was happening up there. Suddenly, a black thing flew out from behind the curtain. It flew across the room towards the door, passing by a mirror which caused it to look twice its size. It was much too big to be a moth and too black to be a butterfly. It was a bat. A BAT!
RIGHT OFF THE BAT
I thought “What would an adult do in this situation?” Then I thought, “Get me that adult!”
Mistakenly thinking the bat was attracted to light, the only other light on in the apartment was in the kitchen. On my way to the kitchen, I stopped in the bathroom for a can of hairspray. Why hairspray? I am abnormally revolted by insects. A household hints book said if you spray a bug with hairspray, it will stop it in its tracks, stiffening it and, in my case, giving me time to get someone to dispose of it. While I didn’t know if hairspray would have the same holding power on a bat, it was all I had at the moment.
Armed with the can, I ventured into the kitchen, looked around and, thankfully, didn’t see it.
Fairly sure it wouldn’t revisit the bedroom, I went back to bed and, to escape reality, I fell asleep.
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES
The next day I looked around the entire apartment. Nothing. It’s awful to feel your home isn’t the safe haven you need it to be.
I thought, if worse comes to worse, I’ll let the bat live out its life hidden somewhere in my apartment. And one day, hopefully, in the near future, I’d find it on the floor after it passed away peacefully. I thought that until I googled bats. The world’s record for a tiny bat’s life span is 41 years. Six species of bats live 30+ years. Most bats live 20 years. The bastard is going to outlive me.
DIDN’T BAT AN EYELASH
Monday morning, when Viviene, my assistant, arrived, I told her about my new roommate.
Coming from the Caribbean, Viv is not a stranger to bats. They hang around most houses there (figuratively and literally). Viv talked about how good bats are for the environment and how they help control insect populations.
I told Viv that I appreciate what they do, but not in my apartment. Viv said that the bat wants to get out as much as I want it out, but there are no open windows or doors. Because it’s trapped, it will not risk being seen and it will find a darkish place to hide. Viv looked in darkish places throughout the apartment with no luck.
A couple of days went by and I was beginning to feel more at home in my apartment, forgetting about the you-know-what. I went to a walk-in closet that has molding around the doorframe. That’s when I saw it huddled in the curve of the molding, looking like a big, black egg.
“Viv, I see it,” I shrieked.
“Keep watching it. In case it flies away, see where it goes.”
“Are you crazy? I can’t watch it!”
Viv wanted to comfort and assure me, “It’s more afraid of you than you—”
“NO IT’S NOT!”
VIV’S TURN AT BAT
What would you have done? If not for Viv, I would have considered moving to another apartment.
In seconds, Viv had on rubber gloves and with a stack of damp paper towels, she corralled the critter and took it down the block to Central Park, while I arranged to have screens put in all of my windows.
Even though Viv isn’t Jewish, that day she had a Bat Mitzvah!
Lydia Hope Wilen had a fun collaboration with her sister Joany as nonfiction, best-selling authors and popular TV personalities. They also had a full-page celebrity feature in the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine for two years and sold a couple of screenplays, and wrote and talented-coordinated a Leonard Nimoy show on Nickelodeon . . . and that's just for starters.