I’m going to jump ahead in the story: it was a bat!
Now that I have your attention, allow me to tell you how we got to that point. My wife and I were putting our kids to bed the other night. Miles and Maeve were in their pajamas, their teeth were brushed and they were ready for a story before hitting the sack.
Miles got distracted by a sound over by his window. I heard it, too. It sounded like a cricket or some other kind of bug. At first, I assumed this growing noise was coming from outside the window. In fact, the sound was coming from inside the house. The noise grew louder to the point where I told Miles to get out of his bed. I pulled the curtain back from the window to find the source of the clamor: it was a bat!
I yelled a four-letter word that my kids usually don’t hear in my house, then urgently instructed everyone to get out. Carrie and Maeve shut themselves in the upstairs bathroom; Miles ran downstairs and closed himself in the downstairs bathroom. Now it was just the flying rat-mammal and me. I scanned the room to find a recently-used bath towel. I grabbed the towel, climbed up onto Miles’ bed and quickly enveloped the bat inside the curtain and the towel. The beast squealed like a trapped bat.
Next, I made the quick decision to remove the entire curtain from the rod, still squeezing the bat-infested area. Successful in the curtain maneuver, I hopped off the bed and walked cautiously-yet-purposefully down the stairs. Passing the downstairs bathroom, I invited Miles to come out to watch only after I got outside onto our front porch. I opened the glass door outside and secured it, letting my son know it was safe to watch. Men are curious creatures, after all. I decided the only logical thing to do was to heave my handful of towel/curtain/bat as far as I could and then watch the result.
I heaved as only a man holding an armful of linens and a bat could heave such a thing. The pile landed with a plop on the steps leading down to the sidewalk, where the bat clambered out of its hiding spot. It paused a moment, wiggled its rubbery wings and then flew awkwardly over to my neighbor’s house, where it landed on the outside wall above the air conditioner unit. That’s how I saved the day.
There is a grammar lesson in this age-old tale of man vs. beast com-bat: a “clamor” is a loud noise or uproar, while “clamber” is to climb with great difficulty. Now we can consider this confusing word bat-tle settled.
—Curtis Honeycutt is a syndicated humor columnist. He is the author of Good Grammar is the Life of the Party: Tips for a Wildly Successful Life. Find more at curtishoneycutt.com.