A VICTORY FOR MY MALE FRIENDS

Gentlemen, do you feel you are no longer master of your domain?

Has much of your valuable family time been occupied with discussions about the upright position of your toilet seat? Has your wife become more focused on how you are driving than where you are going? Have you replaced your children as the naughtiest individual in your house? If you have been encountering such problems, you will be pleased to know I have a solution. Recently, I have managed to go, in one giant step, from the basement of my domain to the attic. I did it with the assistance of my new business partner, Boris.

Before I made the acquaintance of Boris, I used to endure judgmental personal observations from my wife Minako. “Your wardrobe is terrible,” she once announced. “Throw the whole closet out.” “Who left the wet towel on the bed?” she often demanded to know. “You made too much silly conversation with that waitress,” she would inform me as we drove home from dinner.

Minako’s criticisms would cast doubt on my patriarchal views and leave me feeling underappreciated. Boris came to my rescue. Boris is a bat. A medium-size, gray bat who instantly restored my standing in the household. Once again I am king. Our house was airtight. All access holes had been plugged. We kept all windows, doors, and chimney openings tightly closed. Damned if old Boris didn’t slip into the house unobserved.

Minako discovered him one evening while walking down the corridor into our bedroom. Along the way, she encountered Boris, who was flapping by in the opposite direction. I had already lost any affection I might once have had for mouse like creatures bouncing off my bedroom walls. But Minako’s opinion of rabid flying rodents with teeth silently zipping past her neatly coiffed hair? It was a much higher level of raw, visceral hatred.

When Minako first arrived in America from Japan, she was startled one night by her screaming roommate.“There’s a bat in my room!” her roommate shrieked. “Call the police!” Two anxiety-ridden cops arrived with revolvers drawn. Since that time, Minako has attempted to mentally will bats out of existence.

This time, in her own home, that didn’t work. The nonexistence became a flopping, potentially bloodsucking nightmare.

Minako isn’t a shrieker herself, but she is more than capable of freaking out and making her apprehensions known. It was late at night. We were both tired. I suggested we close all the doors and go to sleep. Tomorrow, when it would be brighter, we could figure out
what to do about it.

Minako gasped at my suggestion. I’d made a mistake. Worse than the wet towel on the bed.“I can’t sleep in the house with a vampire flopping around!” she cried. “He might crawl under the door! He might work his way through the keyhole, or get to us through the HVAC vent ducts!”

I didn’t get it. Anyone looking at Boris could tell he was not Count Dracula. He was a mosquito-eater, not a bloodsucker. But the situation had rocketed well beyond the discussion stage. Sleep wasn’t in the cards. What was called for was manly action.

Coexistence was not an option.

I sought protective gear. On with the leather gloves and the red ski jacket. In the bottom of our closet, I found my old fencing mask from my college days. I don’t normally wear down-filled ski parkas on sweaty August evenings. It was uncomfortably hot and not much of a fashion statement, but I had no choice. Grabbing backup protection in the form of a tennis racket, I trundled into the room where Boris had taken up quarters. He and I spent a good ten minutes sizing each other up.

We each held our ground, eyeing the other in a Mexican standoff.

(Well, actually, blind Boris didn’t do much eyeing; he just sat there folded up like a shapeless turd hanging on the curtain. But I could feel his sonar waves reflecting off my body.)

Then suddenly, flop, flop, flop! Boris grew tired of his resting place on the drape. In a mad frenzy of almost silent fluttering, he sprung into the center of the room where I was standing. He started circling. Instinctively, each time he approached, I would dodge, jerking up the tennis racket to further protect my already fencing-mask protected face.

If you think this was redundant protection, you have never had a bat baring his fangs diving down on you as though he were coming in for the kill.

This dive-and-dodge dance lasted another ten minutes before I got tired of the routine. I lurched toward the window, threw it open, and pointed the way for Boris to exit. “Get the hell out of here, Boris! You’ve overstayed your welcome!” Boris ignored my instructions.

Out in the hallway, Minako heard my desperate words. “What’s going on in there?” she demanded through the closed door. “Is the bat still in the house?” There was nothing new to report. Just an endless flop, flop, flop around and around the bedroom.

“Everything is under control,” I replied.  “Boris decided he wants to do a sleepover with us tonight.” “Who wants to spend the night?” “Boris. The bat.” “You named him? He’s not our pet, Barclay! Get him out of here!”

What else could I say? Boris wouldn’t leave. Besides, any animal that can fly into a locked-up house or catch a ton of mosquitoes on the wing and then find his way home -all with his eyes closed—deserves some admiration.

Alas, poor Boris was not the sharpest member of the bat fraternity. He ranked low on their IQ index. It appeared he wanted to leave, rather than engage in further battle, but in the twenty passes he made by the open window, he missed every opportunity. We were going to have to get comfortable with the fact that this guy couldn’t even find his way out a barn door.

Fat chance he was going to navigate through any ducts or keyholes. But then, floppy turn number twenty-one was a charm. I practically had to escort him out by the wing and send him on his way, but finally, Boris exited. I dashed to close the window. Minako heard the crash as I pulled it shut.

“What’s happening?” she yelled. “Are you all right?” “It’s all okay now,” I said in a voice more calm than I felt. “He’s gone. No problem.”

As if by magic, the curse was lifted. In an instant I was released from my prior role as downtrodden, bumbling husband. I reemerged as Saint Barclay—Bat-Dragon Slayer. I was fearless now. I became the defender of women. Protector of home and virtue. All those wet towels, all the lawn grass tracked onto the carpet? Blissfully erased from living memory!

I reassumed my proper place as heroic master of my domain. I tell you this story only because recently Boris and I have started a new business: Bats out of Heaven, Inc. I am the boss. Boris is now chief recruitment officer, here to serve all of you domain master
wannabes.

If you are struggling with an anxious or uptight spouse, someone you live with who scrutinizes and criticizes your every sneeze, then give me a call, and I’ll have Boris send one of our partner bats over.

For a small, additional fee, you can also rent my fencing mask.

Please try not to hurt your rent-a-bat. (A deposit will be collected to ensure he is returned in good condition.) But don’t worry. Your bat will know the drill. A couple of dozen laps around your home before he flops on his way, and you too will be restored to your respected status as master of your domain.

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