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Going Batty!

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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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—”



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!

The author (right) with her sister Joan Wilen
The author (right) with her sister Joan Wilen

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.



Dick DeBartolo
Dick DeBartolo
Dec 22, 2023

Wow, so great to see you guys! We're still on the upper west side too. Happy holidays... Dick (DeBartolo -- The Giz Wiz & MAD Magazine's Maddest Writer).


Mar 18, 2023

Captivating story that had me laughing and terrified at the same time. But the author seemed to have a pragmatic approach to the dilemma. I love that I learned some interesting facts about bats and the value of window screens. Not to be over looked the importance of an efficient quick thinking assistant.


Feb 21, 2023

Loved the article. Learned a long time ago that screens keep out undesirables like bats but let in that wonderful air that helps us enjoy the outdoors without leaving the house. A valuable lesson for the author! A lesson that resulted in a funny story that we can all enjoy!

Harold Farin


Sep 10, 2022

Concise and comical; in describing a terrifying ordeal, Lydia still manages to make you laugh. The writer has the talent to make you not only feel the bat's presence but also to suggest the creature is hiding in the closet and smirking, with no intention of ever leaving.


Sep 09, 2022

You personify your middle name, "Hope". Add to that a little faith and charity and you'll survive. Your good friend Viv came to the rescue just in the nick of time. Cliche's aside, she literally went "to bat" for you and hit a grand slammer into the stands. Fortunately, Central Park was close by and there was a happy ending!

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