Yesterday we started a series on Swirl Couple Gene-Leigh and Seth Wheeler.
Here’s a bio on the couple: My full name is Gene-Leigh (named for my grandparents and Vivian Leigh the actress) Ziegler (nee Wheeler) and I was born, raised, and currently reside in Pittsburgh, Pa. I’m 32 and ¾ (33 is KILLING me) and Seth and I have been married since 10/11/12. I work as a family therapist for a not-for-profit agency in Pittsburgh, PA. I have a Master’s degree in counseling Psychology, and I have been in my field for almost 10 years.
Seth Ziegler (my loving husband) is 31 years old (he calls me a cougar, the louse), and works as an MRI technologist for a hospital in Pittsburgh. He’s attending school now for a degree in Hospital Administration, and has worked in his field for about 8 years. He is originally from a little town 2 hours north of Pittsburgh where his Mother’s family still lives.
We love long walks on the beach, candle lit dinners, and romantic getaways. However, since we are both too lazy and too broke to do any of those things, we settle for strolls to the corner, loud dinners in bars with lots of football, and putting our phones on silent every Sunday while we eat fast food in bed together. We’re probably two of the most down-to-earth folks you will ever meet although we are both a bit nutty. We got to live music shows as much as possible, and love every second of it. Thank you for allowing us to share our insanity with you.
The Back Story on the Bat
Seth is a long-suffering man. His wife is a punk. Yeah, you read that right, I’m a punk---particularly when it comes to anything that slithers, crawls, flies, has more than four legs, or lives in the dark corners of our unfinished hundred-year old basement. As a requisite “city kid,” my knowledge on any and all things wildlife is shoddy at best. I was never a Girl Scout, and I didn’t go on nature walks (unless you count trudging through alleyways with overgrown weeds popping up through the cracks in the street a “nature walk”).
My experience with animals was limited to alley cats, and those mean neighborhood dogs you were explicitly told to stay away from. On the other hand, my husband grew up outside of city limits in the country, had friends who rode ATVs in the woods, hunted, fished, and ran through all manner of empty fields on acres of farmland. He learned to make his jacket into a flotation device when he was a Cub Scout (don’t ask). So you can see and understand how different the dynamic is, right? Okay.
Fast forward to July of last year . . . .
We had decided to move into a house and out of our tiny cramped apartment last summer. We’d grown out of it, and, as we were going to be married in October, knew that having children was inevitable (Seth’s mother would have preferred to have grandchildren earlier than that, but I digress). We found a beautiful brownstone house in Pittsburgh’s Manchester neighborhood, and I fell in love with it the first time I saw it. We paid our security deposit, and moved into our new home excitedly.
Here’s where it gets interesting. See, things are never as they seem, and that is exactly what we got with this house. We had a few issues here and there, but the biggest issue came in the form of a 6-inch tall furry creature with leathery wings that decided to pay us a visit about two weeks after we moved in. I wrote the short story below to illustrate how differently the two of us----the White country boy, and the Black city girl----handled the same situation.
The Bat Chronicles – Part 1
I’d gone to bed earlier than usual, because I had an early morning appointment with a client, and as I am almost always running late, I wanted to get a fresh start. I was sleeping soundly, but rolled over when I heard our bedroom door creak open. Seth was standing in the doorway, and I gave him a sleepy smile.
“Hello my lovely man. Did you come to see me?” I yawned.
Seth shifted from one foot to the other, and peered at me. “Hi honey, um, we have a bat in the house . . . .”
I sat bolt upright with all romantic pretense gone. “We have WHAT in the house??”
Seth scratched the top of his head and peered at me with big hazel-brown eyes. “A bat . . . .”
I closed my eyes and prayed he meant an implement used to play baseball or cricket. “Tell me you aren't serious . . . HOW THE HELL DID A BAT GET IN???!!!”
Seth opened and closed his mouth a few times, trying to form words that wouldn’t send me further over the edge. “I don't know it was going nuts flying around downstairs . . . .”
Wrong thing to say, Bro. “Where is it?” I asked him, terrified.
Seth pointed toward the door, “Last I saw, it was on the second floor . . . .”
I went into full stroke mode, and fairly screamed at him, “LAST TIME YOU SAW IT???” I started to hyperventilate, and broke out in a cold sweat. To his credit, Seth kept calm, and did his best to keep me from leaping out our third story window in panic.
“It’s okay, calm down, let me go look,” Seth said stroking my hair. He left the bedroom closing the door behind him. When he returned in 10 minutes, I was hiding behind the door in my nightshirt.
Seth kissed my forehead (a little trick he uses to keep me calm when he’s about to give me news that could potentially give me a heart attack) and looked at me steadily. “Okay it’s across the hall in the computer room . . . .”
Eerily calm, I said to him, “I'm gonna faint....” and sure enough, I stumbled into the door, right before he grabbed me by the arms and held me up.
“Gene, stand up! It’s okay---God your eyes are HUGE!”
I swung my gaze to him. “A bat . . . .” I said before resting my head on his shoulder. He patted my head gently and said, “It’s okay, just give me moral support.” I groaned.
By about 2:00 am, Seth had developed a plan of action that consisted of an oversized winter coat, a pair of leather gloves, long pants, shoes, and a bright red bandana that when tied across his face, made him look like gang member. He glanced at me sitting cross-legged on our bed.
“How do I look?” he asked, his voice muffled by the bandana.
“Like you’re about to commit a drive-by in the Alaskan tundra,” I replied drily.
Seth squinted at me in fake malice. “Quiet you. Okay, I'm gonna go and see where it is. I think it's in the computer room.”
I sighed and shrugged my shoulders. “Okay. I'm of no help. You know how I am about spiders, so I'm no good with bats. I’m a city kid, dammit!”
Pulling the cinches tight on the sleeves of his coat, Seth nodded, “It’s okay baby, just stay here.” He left the room to confront our fanged roommate, and returned a scant 15 minutes later and pulled the bandana off his face.
“Okay, so I saw it fluttering by the window, and I'm pretty sure it flew out. It was under the curtain,” Seth said, sinking into the bed next to me.
I looked at him in confusion. Sure, I was a bit crazy and sleep-deprived, but I knew for certain that was impossible. “That window has a screen. How did it get in if we have a screen?”
Seth shrugged. “It's the only way it could have gotten in. There is no other way into the house; every other window was shut to keep the air conditioning in. And the screen doesn’t reach the top. It probably slipped between the panes of glass or something,” he said, yawning and removing his coat.
I frowned, but I was tired, and needed to be up in a few hours. “Okay well, at least it's gone. I gotta get some sleep.” He kissed me good night and I lay down on the pillows, and was thrust into dreams of Count Chocula and the Count on Sesame Street.
The afternoon after our encounter with Dracula, I was still hesitant about being home alone after work, so I put in a call to Animal Control. Although I trusted Seth, and believed that our fanged nemesis had vacated and left no forwarding address, I just couldn’t shake that spooky feeling. I was told that Animal Control would be a few hours, so I vegged out on our front steps and read, and then listened to music on the first floor of the house. When Animal Control arrived---which consisted of two pot-bellied middle aged men with cloth gloves---I felt a bit more relieved. They searched around the house, and came back with their findings.
“Well Miss, we don't see any evidence of activity. You sure your husband saw him leave?” the first man asked with uncertainty.
I shrugged. “Well, he told me he THOUGHT it was fluttering and flew out the window. I know that the top of that window slides down and there is no screen in the top, so maybe it came in the top and not the bottom,” I explained.
The second man nodded with certainty. “Yeah Hon, I think he's gone. We get off at 11, so if your husband comes home, tell him to get a broom if he sees the bat again and try to corral it toward an open door. They don't like light, so cut on all the lights except for the one in the room they are in. Check for him again around 8:30 or 9:00, when it's dark out. But honestly, I think he scared him off.”
I tugged my hair nervously. “Okay, will do. Thanks for coming out.”
After I shut the door behind them, I tried to take the advice of the Queen of England----keep calm, and carry on----but to no avail. I sent Seth a text telling him the information I was told, and hunkered down on the first floor to wait for him to come home.
Seth got home a little after 10:00 pm, and checked the house again. He didn’t a find single thing. It seemed that we did get lucky---Dracula had made his escape. We settled down into our nightly routine of dinner and conversation before retiring to our third floor bedroom.
I yawned deeply while trudging up the steps. “I'm tired. I didn't sleep well because I was so worried about that bastard of a bat last night,” I said. I walked into the bedroom, and began to strip off my clothing.
Seth nodded in agreement. “I know Honey; it's late, try to get some sleep. It's already 1:00 am now. I'm going to get a glass of water.”
As he left the bedroom, I crawled between the covers, rolled over and closed my eyes. Just then I heard what can only be described as a cross between a cough, and a horrified yelp, just before our bedroom door slammed. I rolled over and popped up out of bed ready to cuss Seth a blue streak.
“WHAT THE HELL IS—“I stopped short when Seth turned toward me with his eyes as huge as saucers.
“I guess our friend didn't leave last night,” Seth said quietly.
My mouth dropped open in horror. “Oh my goodness please tell me you are lying right now . . . !”
Seth shook his head. “I wish I was. I just saw it flying up the steps toward us.”
Stay tuned for Part 2 of The Bat Chronicles featuring Gene-Leigh and Seth Wheeler!
Join in the Fray: Are you a "Country Mouse" or a "City Mouse?"
Copyright © 2013 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl, All rights reserved.
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