Robert Hitt Neill Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Overheard bat cell conversation makes good story

A great deal of this story was overheard from cell phone conversations while on a trip, which involved close contact with strangers for an extended period of time on a train headed to a wedding a thousand miles from home.

Cell phones are re-defining the way we live our lives, and that’s not all good, far as I’m concerned.

Even at church meetings, where the announcement is made at the start of extended services, “Please turn off your cell phones,” we can usually expect one to ring at some point during the Holy Time.  

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Yet even when not ringing, cell phones can disturb these meetings: recently we were making Jesus Music at such a gathering, and were interrupted several times by a buzzing coming through the sound system.

“What is that?” I whispered to my guitar player.  

He whispered back, “Someone’s cell phone is getting a call on that frequency, even though the phone itself is off. It’ll quit soon.”

Last week I was stopped at a traffic light facing a school, and could see a bevy of majorettes practicing half-a-block away. Their routine ended just as my light changed, and by the time I drove abreast of them, nine of the 12 girls were talking on their cell phones, still standing in formation!

Those things often make us bystanders – or bysitters – privy to intimate and interesting conversations, such as the “Invasion of the Killer Bats.”

Well, they probably weren’t Killer Bats, although there eventually was a lot of death involved.

Started thisaway

“Bats! In the house? Mary’s bedroom? And the hall? Can you tell where they’re coming from? Tangled in Mom’s hair?! Check the chimney, and put the fireplace screen in front of it. Call me back.”

The callback:

“How many?!!! In the hall? Mom said what?!! Okay, get the 22 rifle and there’s some ratshot on the dashboard of my pickup. NO! Just the bats in the hall, where there aren’t any windows! Well, tell her I’ll repaint it! Ratshot can’t make that big a hole! Call me back.”

The callback:

“Thirty-seven! Handle them with gloves and put them in a garbage bag.  Look, there’s some cans of that insulating foam in my shop; see if you can pray that up the chimney and stop it up. Tell Mom we don’t HAVE a fire in the summertime! I’ll clean it out when I get home. NO! Open her bedroom door and shoo them into the hall before you shoot them. Use a broom. Call me.”

The callback:

“Seventy-four! In Lacy’s bedroom, too?!  Well, I would think that you’d have known a baseball bat would make them splatter blood against the wall. I mean, you ARE an Eagle Scout! Tell Mom I’ll repaint it! Switch to my tennis racquet. Well, tell Mom to run buy some more foam.  Call me back.”

The callback:

“Ninety-six! Dad-blame it, that racquet cost me nearly two hundred bucks, Boy! Use the boat paddle. No, the short paddle! Well, ask her to pick up some more ratshot when she gets more foam cans. NO, do NOT use the shotgun! Why was she videotaping anyway? I’ll fix it later. Call me back.”

The callback: “A hundred and twenty-six! Take a window screen off, climb up onto the roof, and put the screen over the top of the chimney. Well, put a brick on it! No, leave the window down. Turn the AC thermostat down to about fifty, and maybe they’ll go into hibernation. You’re the Eagle Scout, didn’t they teach you whether bats hibernate or not? It bit through the glove? Actually, I do seem to remember that bats CAN carry rabies. Send Lacy across the street to ask Dr. Mac, and save that bat in a Ziploc Bag until I get home.  Call me back.”

The callback: “A hundred and forty-one! None for the past hour? Praise the Lord! Get the stepladder and pull them off carefully. Don’t make them fly. Well, try it and see, it sure holds her hair in place, even in a wind. Call me back.”

The callback:  “Hairspray did that?! Tell her I’ll repaint it, but to look at the good side, okay? At least it stuck their wings together. Spray the rest of it up in the fireplace, just in case. NO!  Do not hold a match to it while you’re spraying! Let me talk to her. Honey? I can fix it when I get back. Well, pack a bag and stay in the motel tonight. Be home Wednesday.  Love you too. Bye.”