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June 16, 2013

KNISELY: Having a worst fear realized ... sorta

I have a deep-seated fear of bats. Namely, bats swooping down and getting tangled up in my hair. When I tell people of this fear, it’s often with great animation on my part. It’s a true audio/visual presentation of the unlikely event were it to actually happen. It goes much like this: I flail my arms about and make the high-pitched shrieks I imagine the bat would make as it tried to escape the web that is my hair.

There is no reason for this fear as I’ve never even seen a bat up close, much less have one touch me. If one did, I would not be alive to write this ridiculous column.But all that changed this week during a short trip to Chicago with a friend. We decided to take a couple days off and hit the big city in search of something fun to do. On Tuesday, that fun thing was Navy Pier. We sat and watched the water and trolled around the different shops and such. We decided taking a Ferris wheel ride was required tourist activity, so we bought our tickets. While on the ride, it started to rain. If you’ve never been on a Ferris wheel in the rain, I highly recommend it.Anyway, since it was raining when our ride was up, we hit the ground running in search of shelter before the storm hit. Following behind my friend, I was running past a little food hut with several people crowded under a tiny awning. That’s when it happened. A bird swooped down from behind and grabbed my head. Let me repeat. A bird swooped down from behind and grabbed my head.I couldn’t see the bird but I could hear its shrill squawk. The worst part was I could feel both its talons as it tried to get hold of my head. As it flew away — without it pursued prey, aka me — my hair was caught in its talon, pulling my hair in the process. In a moment it had come and gone, leaving me to have a moment of my own. I stopped dead in my tracks. Standing in the rain, I felt my head in disbelief. If it wasn’t for the audience gathered under the food hut awning gasping, I don’t think I would have believed it. I turned to look at them, hoping for some sort of reassurance — since my friend was long gone, unaware I was no longer right behind him — but got nothing. They just looked at me in disbelief. One little boy had tears in his eyes when he said, “Mommy! The birdie attacked her!”After a few moments of stunned immobility, I got the wherewithal to start moving my feet again. As I rounded the hedges, I could see my friend coming back for me.I must have looked like I’d seen a ghost because he quickly asked what was wrong.“I was attacked!” I said probably much louder than necessary.“What?” he asked impatiently. “By who?”“A bird!” I yelled. “A bird tried to get me!”His expression went from fear to disbelief. Not disbelief that something so incredulous happened to me but that I was yelling about being “attacked” by a bird.He turned to run for shelter again, with me in pursuit while yelling about how this is a tragic event and attention must be paid. Once in the dryness of indoors, he turned to me and asked, “So, you were attacked by a bird?”Ignoring the blatant sarcasm, I delved into the ordeal I had just endured. With my arms flailing and making crow sounds, I tried to convey the true horror of what had just happened to me.“I’m now more afraid of bats than ever!” I said, practically squealing.“Because you were ‘attacked’ by a bird?” he said, questioning my logic.“Exactly,” I rebutted. “It was horrible.”“Yeah,” he said. “That’s terrible ... oh look, they have ice cream here ...”

Misty Knisely, managing editor, can be reached at 574-732-5155 or via email at misty.knisely@pharostribune.com.

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