My world is dominated by independent, outspoken, headstrong females. On Venus, the only thing a man can do better than a woman is to kill spiders.
My wife, Amy, and my daughters, Evien and Maggie, feel that the presidents on Mount Rushmore should be replaced with Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Sacagawea. George Washington can stay because he wore a wig.
On Venus, estrogen is more valuable than precious gems, and testosterone is worth its weight in charcoal briquettes. Around our dinner table, the conversation usually revolves around anti-bullying, recycling and being kind to animals. On Mars, we often talk about cars, football and killing animals. I sure miss that red planet.
As a Martian in a foreign land, I am constantly looking for ways to display my machismo and to prove that Mars houses a superior race. Eradicating arachnids with a bathroom tissue is not a sufficient way to convince my family that I am a knight and they are damsels.
One Saturday morning, an opportunity to prove my manly competence presented itself. Martians, you can stop reading now. Thank you.
Amy was sorting laundry in the basement, Evien and Maggie were lazing around the TV, and I was upstairs in the hallway when, in my periphery, I caught a flicker of light from the office. Thinking it was a moth, I approached the open door and discovered a bat swooping around the ceiling.
Quickly, I ran downstairs and announced to my stunned children, "There's a bat in the office!"
Amy came up the stairs carrying a basket of laundry, and the girls shouted, "Dad said he saw a bat in the office!"
Amy looked at me with a frozen stare. "What did you do?" she asked.
"I shut the door."
My family slowly approached the office door. I opened the door a crack and we peered through it looking like a modern-day, matted-haired totem pole. The bat was still flapping loops around the overhead light.
"Yup, that's a bat," Maggie said.
"Dad, you've gotta do something," Evien chimed.
All I could think was, "I'm gonna need a bigger tissue."
I closed the door and Amy said, "Maybe we should call someone."
"No!" I demanded. Calling an exterminator to remove a bat is the ultimate humiliation on Mars. "We need to come up with a plan," I said.
"Maybe you could catch it in Mom's laundry basket," Maggie suggested.
"It doesn't have a lid," I said.
"Maybe you could walk in there with a towel, and when it flies into it, you can wrap it up and carry it outside," Evien said.
"Let's come back to that one," I said.
Amy said, "Why don't you just grab it and toss it out the window?"
"With my bare hands?"
"No, put on a glove."
I didn't offer a response.
I opened the door slightly. The swooping and flapping had stopped. I opened the door a little farther and the bat whizzed by my head. I screamed like a grade-school girl who just had a frog dropped down the back of her shirt.
"That's it!" I said. "We'll just keep the door closed and let him have the room." I pointed to the door and said, "That's its new home."
"Dad, you gotta get rid of it," Evien said.
I pushed the door open a sliver. Then a little more. The room was still, but I couldn't see the bat.
"There it is!" Maggie said, pointing. "On top of the curtain."
Sure enough, there sat the pointy-eared devil, resting on the curtain right above the window. I slowly pulled the door closed.
My family huddled up like a sandlot football team. "Here's the plan," I said. "First, one of us needs to go in there and open the window."
The girls looked at me as if I had suggested that we punt on first down.
Amy said, "Evien, I'll give you 20 bucks if you open the window."
Never one to pass up a quick buck, Evien dashed into her room and emerged with a comforter covering every inch of her body except her eyes. She bravely walked into the office wearing her makeshift HAZMAT suit and slid open the window.
"Dad, now you can just grab it and throw it out," Maggie said.
"B-b-b-but it's looking at me."
"Dad, bats are blind," Evien said.
"Well, it's got its radar honed in on my neck."
"Oh, for cryin' out loud," Amy said. "It's a bat, not a vampire."
"Oh, snap, Dad," Maggie said.
"I need some sort of weapon," I said. I went to the garage and found a badminton racquet and a beach pail.
With racquet and pail in hand, my oldest daughter, Natalie, came strolling into the garage. "What's that for?" she asked.
I told her about the bat, the swooping and flapping, and the window. She pointed at my extermination implements and said, "And you're going to get it out with those?" She started laughing, then abruptly stopped. "That might just work," she said. Then she grabbed the racquet and pail from my hand and headed for the office.
Natalie waltzed right into the office, gave the little brown rodent a tiny nudge with the racquet, and when it dropped into the bucket, she launched it out the window. We watched in silence as the flying mammal flapped above the yard and disappeared over the tree line.
Natalie handed back the racquet and pail and walked out of the room.
"I was gonna do that, ya' know?" I said.
Instead of being a knight protecting damsels, it turned out to be another victory for the Venusians. That's when Evien walked into the office and said, "Hey, Dad. Mom said you'd pay me the $20."
— By Grant Berry, Tribune community columnist