Tonight is the night for tricks and treats and candy-corn dreams. Mummies doing the limbo, and problematic Halloween costumes. It is also that time of year to discuss how dads chase bats out of the house in a classic dad fashion. Bat Dad fashion.
It came up when the Cut news editor Callie Beusman noted that she’d suddenly become acquainted with the ubiquity of dad-chasing-bat stories, and asked people to share them:
People shared, and it was clear that bats had been evicted through various means by many fathers throughout history, doing what dads do and taking whatever is near by and putting it to good use.
They used wood chippers:
Wicker Thanksgiving horns:
A tennis racket:
And hockey sticks, like some game of Quidditch:
Some dads are not so great at bat removal:
And even granddads have gotten in on some bat action:
Nice, glad there was something good on Twitter this week. But did the dads do it right?
The better course of action would be to close the bat off in a single room, open a window, turn off the light, and leave it alone until it rights itself, dads wouldn’t be dads if they didn’t overdo it and jump into action, turning it into a battle to reestablish the patriarch’s true authority over his domain. That means gearing up and eradicating the bat through any method possible until the bat is gone. It could take a minute, it could take hours or it could take all night. But make no mistake: Dad will get that goddamn bat out of the goddamn house.
Still, the highest possible honor for best Bat Dad goes to the Irish Bat Dad, who shows immeasurable calm, restraint and endearing dedication in the face of a rogue bat flitting around the kitchen. The Missus stands in the adjacent room peering through the door glass, the dog pisses on the floor amid all the commotion and the son narrates the chase, coaching him: “Catch it! Catch it!”
It’s reminiscent of Dan Aykroyd and John Candy’s bat stare-down in The Great Outdoors:
But as of press time, there has still been no Bat Dad moment to surpass Irish Bat Dad, though San Antonio Spurs player Manu Ginóbili swiping a bat in mid-air during a 2009 game comes pretty darn close:
For the record, the bat lived. Ginóbili, also a dad, did a pretty dad thing after and didn’t gloat. Instead, he let everyone know that bats are pretty cool and we shouldn’t really be messing with them. He did not want to kill it. Also, he got a rabies shot.
Perhaps you don’t care, and you’re simply wondering: How did this fucking bat get into my house?
Bats don’t typically fly into open windows to haunt our homes on purpose. Their presence in our homes is more of an accident: They unwittingly chase after a moth or insect into our lair, or slide in through a gap or crack to take refuge in an attic to roost or nurse, mostly attracted to more pleasant temperatures inside because they’re so sensitive to the air around them. They’re more likely to be inside because they got lost in the walls shifting around when the temperatures changed and are trying to find their way out. On occasion, they end up in a washing machine, which usually doesn’t turn out well (for the bat).
That might be why dads and bats can wage such a relatively friendly war. Even though the bat is an unwanted guest, there’s also a grudging respect: It would be unfair of man to treat him like a predator when he’s simply a nuisance who has gotten lost, and just like any man, will absolutely not stop to ask for directions.
This gentleman’s agreement allows men to rescue their family from the bat, but also the bat from itself — satisfying a primal urge to conquer nature while still remaining a civilized specimen of humanity. He saves his family. He sets the bat free. Order is restored.
That’s what a colleague told me when I asked our fellow MEL men why dads seem to like chasing bats out of rooms so much.
“Do they?” Jeff Gross told me. “I guess there’s a hero complex at play. Shooing a blood-sucking fiend has traditionally been a man’s job.”
For what it’s worth, it is also now a couples Halloween costume.