Saturday, September 14, 2013

Weekly Interlude 15: Die Fledermaus

Vienna State Opera
When I hear the words Die Fledermaus (or, "The Bat") in Austria, my mind immediately zips to the quintessential Viennese operetta by Johann Strauss II. It's comical, fast-paced, and witty and makes for an enjoyable evening out at the Volksoper.

What is not so comical or witty is having a REAL BAT flying around in your apartment, which is exactly what happened to me two nights ago!! Between my roommate and me, the Fledermaus/operetta jokes were flying around almost as fast as the bat itself.

It all began when I was having a lovely Facebook chat with one of my friends from home. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dark object flying around super fast. Oh jeez, I thought. Another one of those moths. It must have flown in through the window I just opened in the living room.

But hang's too big to be a's a BIRD! Thinking it's a bird that's tearing around in circles and diving occasionally at my head, I start shouting nervously for Eliza. "I have a bird in my room!" I say in a bright, shaky voice. But then this small, dark, crazy bird flies at my roommate's head, and she dives to the floor.

"That's not a bird, Susan, it's a BAT!"

We scream, it flies out of the room, and Eliza jumps into my room and slams the door. We are temporarily safe.

Okay, everything I know about bats is pretty much confined to what you find in the children's book Stella Luna or the Batman movies. They're nocturnal, they fly, they sleep upside down, they can carry rabies. Not super helpful at the moment. Eliza also informed me that bats' teeth are so small that you can't always see a mark if one bites you...(I thought Halloween was in October! What's up with the horror stories??) Google had tips on trying to capture a bat, but I didn't have any thick leather workman's gloves to whip out of my back pocket. We decided we needed a grown-up's opinion, so Eliza Skyped the only person online at that moment: her voice teacher. He told us to get a broom and try to get it out the open window again. (We shrank in fear at the thought of battling a bat.) Instead we found emergency numbers.

Now, when you have a bat in your house at midnight in Vienna, do you call the police? Do you call the Animal Welfare Helpline? Is the welfare for the animals themselves or for the humans who find them? We couldn't find an Animal Control number. Plus, everything was auf Deutsch, of course. Another of my friends on Skype also told me to get a broom and beat it back towards the window. (Apparently, that's what she did when she had a bat in her apartment.) Perhaps in an exhaustion-meets-adrenaline panic, I called one of my colleagues from work, thinking maybe she or her Austrian boyfriend could give us advice. She was super nice, but I woke her up with the call. And they didn't have much advice.

Me, Battle of the Bat
My roommate could easily have slept in my room that night but, as I'd been feeling dehydrated earlier, I'd just guzzled some water before going to bed...I wasn't going to make it eight hours until sunrise...

There was no choice but to suit up and face the bat head-on. We covered up completely: sweatshirts tucked into jeans, jeans tucked into four layers of socks each (our shoes were outside the safe room), hoods drawn tightly over our heads. To protect our hands, we wore winter socks -- not as thick as leather gloves, but we retained our finger dexterity! We grabbed towels as our weapon of choice, until we could make it to the broom in the hallway.

Once we looked as ridiculous as possible, the Battle of the Bat began. One by one, we cleared each room, making lots of noise and flipping on each light. No sign of the bat. No squeak, no flap, nothing. I must think I live in a movie because I kept expecting to be, say, staring in a mirror and see the bat drop suddenly onto my head. UGH.

Eliza, Battle of the Bat
We finally retired. I assume the bat surrendered because we've seen no sign of it since. We slept with all the lights on and the window open that night. And to top off this whole comedy show, when I returned to my room to lower my shades, the entire curtain rod fell off the wall. The bat's last stand? Perhaps.

So if you ever have a bat in your house, here's what you should know: 1) Bats only attack if they feel cornered, 2) only about 6% of all bats carry rabies, 3) bats use echolocation to navigate (they translate sounds into a map of their surroundings; sound = object), 4) bats have a difficult time taking flight from the ground, so if you can knock it down, you have a better chance of catching it (they prefer to drop from a height to gain airspeed), 5) if a bat flies around during the day, it's probably sick. And good luck! I'm now scared to open my window at night; I used to like the cool breeze wafting in as I slept, but now I burrow under the covers and freeze at the slightest noise.

Brie puff pastry w/honey
Barring the bat, I've had a pretty good week. Teaching went better than I expected; in fact, I actually feel like I know what I'm doing about 80-85% of the time! (But what do you do when none of the kids are interested in anything you have planned?) My roommate and I also had another delicious Friday Night Dinner: meatballs and pizza with brie puff pastry for dessert -- all while watching The Sound of Music! (Finally, after a month and a half, my Salzburg/SoM craving was satisfied!)

Coming up this week: exploring more of Vienna on my 3-day weekend, looking for a fall jacket, and perhaps going to see another performance. Wouldn't you know it? Die Fledermaus is playing at the Volksoper :)

No comments:

Post a Comment