You can’t judge a book by its cover. We’ve all heard it. But we all do it. I was told years ago that if you were interested in having a normal, vanilla sex life you should date a musician. If you wanted crazy kink, date a Republican. Appearances are not what they seem. I like to think I am no different – that below the surface of my white anglo skin beats the heart of an adventurer. I will try anything, and there are few “too”s in my life. No “too high” “too fast” “too unstable”. But after years of dressing for ease, movement and comfort I realize that my book cover is pretty tame. I like clean, simple lines for clothes and I don’t wear a lot of jewelry or make up. I am comfortable in my own skin but sometimes I feel like I am sitting at the lunch table with the cool kids when I should be off in the corner with the science nerds.
Long ups my cool cache immensely. She is badass and looks it. And she was late for our bat skeleton workshop. I found my way into the tight studios at Nanopod on Harbord Street and walked right into the cool lunch table. I was the only one without multiple piercings and tattoos. I was older than everyone, and the only one who had brought a sensible snack. Everyone was very nice, but I did fee like I was in one of those “One of these things is not like the other” sketches from Sesame Street (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueZ6tvqhk8U).
Long finally showed, and then so did a lovely woman named Anya. Anya was an absolute treat, and she made me instantly comfortable as she looked and sounded exactly like my long term doctor would if Dr Paula had elected to dye her hair green and cover herself in dozens of wicked tattoos. Anya was funny and quirky and offbeat and I liked sharing a table with her.
Suitably calmed, I settled in. The Nanopod studio is run by an artist named Tosca Teran. A glass worker and metallurgist, Tosca opened the studio up to host a series of seminars including entomology, taxidermy and this bat skeleton that Long and I had signed up for. We were being taught by a delightful steam punk gent named Wilder Duncan who is the resident taxidermist at the Morbid Academy Museum in Brooklyn (and I am telling you right now, that place is going to feature in a future post to be sure).
Each of the students (I think about 10 of us) took a seat and were greeted by the tiny skeleton of a bat. It looked fake, but was the real thing and I was immensely relieved that the skeleton was intact and did not need to be assembled. I seriously doubt I would have had the patience or manual dexterity that task would have required. We did need to position the skeletons in the shape we ultimately wanted to have on display which generally meant gently snapping the atrophied cartilage between the bones, repositioning them and shaving off the excess tissue, then reinforcing the new position with a dab of extremely powerful glue and an equally noxious fixative. More than one person glued themselves to the bat, the table, themselves in this delicate endeavour.
We were given a glass domed display case and told to select the various props we wanted for the display from a large selection of sticks, stones and mosses. Some people (including Long) actually read the instructions before showing up and brought their own trinkets. One guy had a little miniature coffin that he had his bat fly out of. Long had tiny skulls and sparkles which she shared with Anya. I chose a sturdy stick to hang my fellow from, which in hindsight I perhaps should have clipped from the top not the bottom as my eventual display had Skelly nearly conking himself on the noggin on the ground.
After what felt like a short time shaving, gluing, stopping for a snack (sensible really works sometimes) and inhaling all measures of toxic goo we looked up to discover that a full three hours had flown by. Now I had a bat under glass! It was kind of cool. The time had past in a very collegial way, sharing tools, giggling over the mistakes we were making, telling stories all under the gentle guidance of Wilder. I felt like I was part of a funky little club, maybe even made up of secret science nerds. We made our way into the rainy night, and I got home satisfied, possibly slightly stoned from the fumes, and wondering in the most abstract of ways what the hell I was going to do with a bat under glass. Christmas is coming, friends and family! One of you might end up with this little fellow under the tree.