Tennis Bat?

The month of June in the Central Interior of British Columbia is always a beautiful month. It comes on, tender green and warm, after a period of many months of snow and a month or so of muddy snow-melt. The wild-flowers – Indian paintbrush, orange hawk-weed, wild columbine, blue lupin and daisy – bloom in profusion in the woods and fields. In the lambent light of summery dusk, the bats flit about gorging themselves on the burgeoning flying insect populations.

June was also a month when young Renaissance Man, teenaged, back 20 or so years ago, pestered me daily to take him and his friends on tennis-playing excursions in the late afternoons and early evenings. These young bush-apes didn’t have proper tennis vocabulary nor comportment. They called tennis racquets ‘tennis bats’ and hit the courts in a weird assortment of ragged cut-off jeans and hideous patterned tee-shirts. They loped and goofed about while rallying. They also spent considerable time outside the tennis court fencing, beating about the bushes for balls they carelssly lofted over the fence in their enthusiastic abandon. They were exuberant, loud and completely entertaining to spend teaching the finer points of the game.

One lovely summer evening, we returned to the homestead after an energetic couple of hours on the courts. Mike, Renaissance Man’s buddy and sidekick came with us for after game snacks and juice. They hauled the tennis equipment from the Landcruiser into the house while I made for the kitchen to prepare their victuals. They slumped down on the living room couches, exhausted, waiting for their treats to be delivered to them. The French doors to the back of the property were wide open. We could hear Rumpole making yard-work noises outside. The dogs were nowhere to be seen, obviously keeping a watch on Rumpole’s doings out in the yard.

I delivered drinks and snacks to the boys in the living room. While I was bending over, depositing the tray on the coffee table, something flew by the region of my head. Turning to take a look, I noted a flappping black thing, mid-air, heading from the living room into the kitchen. Started making incoherent shrieks, much to the boys’ amusement.

“Look, a bat,” commented a laconic Mike.

Renaissance Man ran out to the front entry, brought back two tennis racquets, one of which he tossed to Mike and chortled, “Tennis bat. lets play.”

The boys ran around the main floor swinging with the racquets at the poor bat. It managed to not get hit in mid-air, but was labouring with panicked flits to avoid getting pasted. Finally, the poor beastie landed on the mullion of one of the French doors and clung on there, hyperventilating and trembling.

“Don’t you guys dare to hit it!  Don’t touch it! Leave it alone!” I screamed while trying to wrap my long hair in a kitchen towel. The idea of a bat flying into my flying long hair was frightening. Eeeeek!

The commotion caused Rumpole to come into the house. “What are you guys all so exercised about? Calm down, everyone.” We were milling around the living room, boys brandishing tennis racquets, all excited, me moaning and wringing my hands.

“A bat flew into the house,” announced RM. “Mike and I were using our “tennis bats” to get it to leave.”

“Yeah! That’s a good one – get it? Tennis bat?” chortled goofy Mike.

“Poor bat,” commented Rumpole as he inspected the terrified bat on the door. ” All this screaming and mad flailing with the racquets has him completely panicked.” He went off to the bathroom, came back with a large bath towel, wrapped the bat inside and took the bundle out to the back deck. There he loosely arranged the towel to allow the bat ease of escape. I slammed shut the French doors. Through the glass we watched as the bat made his awkward climb from inside the towel, righted itself and flew off toward the sfety of the big pine behind the house. Rumpole came back inside and chided us for giving the bat a scare.

Ever since then, whenever Renaissance Man and I play tennis together, all I have to do is waggle my eyebrows meaningfully, and say “tennis bat”. We both break down in instant and helpless laughter. Somehow, Rumpole finds it difficult to share in this form of humour. He loves bats; hates tennis.

16 Responses to “Tennis Bat?”

  1. tysdaddy Says:

    I would share my bat story, but my wife might telepathically get the notion that I brought it up and physically beat me . . .

    Great story!


  2. suburbanlife Says:

    tysdaddy – you’ve just got to tell us your bat story now. You must, since you brought it up. Hee! G

  3. Cori Says:

    Thanks for the memories, I grew up in the central interior and I had completely forgotten about Indian Paintbrushes.

  4. citrus Says:

    As so often, you’ve made my day.

  5. maryt/theteach Says:

    G, how are you! So glad to hear from you! Isn’t it amazing that a little something about writing on the Internet is noticed by someone you never intended to read it. There are other bloggers this is meant for who do go on and on and could have stopped after the first paragraph. Your writing is interesting, memoir and lovely! I never intended to curb your wonderful stories.

  6. Deborah Barlow Says:

    You made me smile. Thank you G.

  7. ybonesy Says:

    I agree, Brian must now tell his bat story!

    I felt so bad for that poor bat, G., and I loved that you were its advocate. And Rumpole, too. Of course, I’m sure now in his maturity RM would never harm a bat unless it were chomped onto someone’s neck, which I’m sure bats never do. (That’s just myth, right?)

  8. tysdaddy Says:

    Alrighty then . . .

    We were living in the upper apartment of a very old house near downtown. No A/C. We kept our windows open quite a bit. And the screens were weak as shit and kept falling apart or coming unlodged from the frame. Well, one day I was in bed staring at the ceiling doing some mental multitasking when I saw a shadow flitter overhead. A huge bat had flown in the window, probably from the attic – which had no cover over the window (I don’t even want to know how many lived up there). My wife happened to be sitting on the throne about that time and had left the door open. Where did the bat fly? Yep. I tried to warn her. Got to “Honey, there’s a . . . ” And she screamed the kind of scream damsels in distress scream in horror movies. Shrill, high-pitched, and never-ending. She ran out with her underthings around her ankles, nearly tripped over the detritus that bedrooms in homes with multiple children accumulate, and jumped *over* the bed . . . landing on the other side with a thud. And she managed to grab the comforter as she flew over. Neo would have been proud. Very Matrix-y.

    We ended up spending nearly an hour chasing him around with a broom. I finally managed to knock him goofy enough to slow down. I scooped him up with the dustpan and threw him out the window.

    Ugly night, indeed . . . but you asked for it.

  9. suburbanlife Says:

    Tysdaddy – please say that the bat was just knocked loopy and not dead before you dust-panned him and threw him out the window? “… and he winged off into the dark, with a limping flight, so relieved to be away from the shrieking hysteria.”??? I gotta say, city bats must be larger than country bats. Our guy was a wee one, very delicate looking with a silly face and dainty legs and feet.
    Your poor wife, though. She will never, ever, forget the incident. It’s sort of funny though, but please don’t tell her i said so. G

    ybonesy – there you go – ask and ye shall receive. Brian was good to oblige.
    I don’t think northern bats bite necks, but do the ones in Transylvania, hmm? You’re probably right and it’s merely a myth, but a good and scary one. G

    Deborah – glad to bring a smile to your face! G

  10. maryt/theteach Says:

    Thanks for commenting on bad art friday, G. Video game art leaves a lot to be desired, no? Ha!

  11. tysdaddy Says:

    I do believe the bat was still alive when I chucked him out the window. At that point, I was not really concerned either way. I never found him the next morning, so he must have survived.

  12. mariacristina Says:

    An entertaining story, G. I loved the description of the boys playing tennis in their cut-offs, not minding the typical protocol of the courts. i remember reading in another of your stories that you learned how to play as a young girl. It’s nice that you continued the tradition, although in your own way.

    Thank goodness Rumpole knew how to save the bat. What a funny image of you wrapping a towel on your head. Can’t say that I blame you.

    BTW, I’ve tagged you for a six word bio, should you take the challenge!

  13. lookingforbeauty Says:

    The primordial reaction to bats is panic. I think it must be the swift movement that causes our distress. We never quite know where the bat is until it deigns to stop. They are wonderful, though, since they make a great dent in the early evening mosquito population. We had lots of them up in Pender Harbour, but only once did we get one in the house.

  14. ybonesy Says:

    OK, just want to report that I did receive 8) Thanks, Brian. (And are we not animal lovers or what, G. — I, too, was worried that the bat was harmed in the making of that film. 8)

  15. suburbanlife Says:

    Citrus – Roger, please forgive this late acknowledgement of your comment. I’m glad the little tale made your day. I know that in caves in NM and Arizona there are several bat colonies – would it be fun to call those “batteries”? You must have the critters flying about at dusk? G

    Ybonesy – you know it’s rather hilarious – in the original Bela Lugosi “Dracula” movie, the special effects people gad bats flapping on wires strung across the set, very creaky looking ones that were a dead give-away for fakes. RM loves that part of the movie, being weaned on more sophisticated special effects in movies (Star Wars on) Real bats have a far more erratic flight path. And they are such interesting animals – gotta love ’em. G

  16. suburbanlife Says:

    Christine – there is nothing like eager teenagers, unafraid of expectations of correctness – and just willing to give their all, in fun, to a sport. The bit about wrapping long hair in a towel while bat was flitting around, i had earlier been beset by a swarm of hornets and about 8 got caught in my flying hair as i was dashing away from them. OWWW! Slapped myself in the head with a book to kill them but they all got their bites in first. A bat is much larger and would need cutting out a clump of hair to free it. Hornets, not cute; bats, sweet! G

    Lookingforbeauty – know what you mean about their erratic flight that is a bit off-putting. They are really shy and don’t deliberately come into houses. I agree, they are wonderful creatures. G

    Ybonesy – bat-lovers unite. this must mean we have to leave out Brian’s wife, eh? Too bad she was so traumatized. G

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