SMOKE: Being A Bat
Originally published: 29 September 2004
In case you thought spending your life hanging upside down in dark, dank caves is just the bees knees - think again. It's bloody awful.
All the blood rushes to your head and your eyes fill up and become bloodshot. The two biggest retailers in Bat World are Eyegene and Safyr Bleu, who have a nasty little competitive advertising campaign going against each other to try win a lucrative share of the local bat-eye market.
And nobody really does anything, you know? We hang around all day - just chillin' - and when night falls some twat-of-a-bat always decides to get creative and fly out of the cave, resulting in an aerial version of a stampede as everyone follows to find out what's going on.
I always squash myself as flat to the ceiling of the cave as possible in order to avoid the rush of wings and blind enthusiasm, and once it's all over and the din has subsided I have a little time to myself.
It's the only highlight of my day - I wait for everyone to flap out like a herd of flying sheep and once they're gone I fire up a stogie I keep tucked away in a crevice near the bottom of the cave (where no bats ever go, of course).
Sometimes I chase my joint with a nip or seven of Klippies and if I get really wasted I usually end up spray painting graffiti on the cave walls. Stuff like: "Are you bats, or is it just me?", or "Which side do you bat for?", or "You don't have to be bats to work here but it helps".
Sometimes I just write "Jou ma se poes" but not a lot of bats speak Afrikaans and those that do are church-going, decent sorts who don't like their walls desecrated by filth. So generally I just stick to bat puns.
But that's about all the joy I get out of being a bat. As you know we don't have very good eyesight and rely on our super radar to avoid obstacles and the like. But I was born with a congenital disease which gave me a wonky radar and as a consequence I'm always flying into things.
Sometimes my radar works - if I bang the side of my head really hard the synapses fuse briefly and I can fly around for 20 minutes or so like any other bat.
But I never know when the synapses are going to go out of alignment again, so my 20 minutes of pleasure is always ended by me flying fangs-first into the nearest fever tree.
As if that's not bad enough I also have the family from hell - the most embarrassing bunch of hooligans any bat could ever have.
My younger brother was born thinking he's a cat (and even more bizarrely has a speech impediment in which he confuses the letter "b" with the letter "c", which naturally compounds the problem); my older brother is serving 15-20 in a local penitentiary for robbery (he tried to plead innocent to robbing some young bat of his lunchtime blood pack but the asshole had forgotten to wipe the evidence off and was sitting there like butter wouldn't melt with a dark red, thick moustache coating his upper lip); my mother is a thong-wearing, sloppy-titted bat-slag who rumour has it had it off with her sister once and my father is a degenerate bum who lost everything he owned in the dotcom crash and turned to the bottle for solace.
This is my lot. Appalling, man.
Finally, everywhere I go people scream and run and holler "Vampire!" - bullshit, man. Not all bats are vampires and I resent the implication. It's like seeing a guy in robes and screaming "Jesus!", or spotting an unfunny fat man and hollering "Eddie Eksteen!" - wild generalisations, one and all.
Personally - can't stand blood. Not even the sight of it. When I see other bats schlurping down gallons of the stuff I feel physically ill. I see nothing wrong with a juicy pizza with extra mozzarella, bacon, garlic, pineapple and peppadews, and a Spur cheeseburger delivered by an extremely enthusiastic delivery boy beats the hell out of having to fly around in the dark with a defective radar trying to spear some scurrying field mouse with a cracked fang.
Even if I do have to go through empathetic embarrassment for the Spur delivery boy, whose masters seem set on the idea that a cheesy thumbs-up and an inane "Howzit" intoned in a flat Eastern Cape accent are something their customers really need on any given Friday night.
So yeah. Leave off the vampire shit, OK?
Other than that - same old same old, I guess. I'd really like to get away from this cave some day - maybe travel a bit, see some of the world, get in some adventures. Follow in the footsteps of Hunter S. and gas it on a boney down the Pacific Coastal Highway with a head-full of acid at 3am in the middle of summer - without a crash helmet.
That sorta shit. I got dreams, man. I got big dreams.
All Smoked Out,