the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Captured by cameras for the first time

The last time Leah came to visit overnight we forced her to watch three-days worth of “The Dog Whisperer,” and by the time she left she was poking us in the neck with her thumb and forefinger to get us to stop chewing on shoes. We have since seen every episode of “The Dog Whisperer,” twice, and now our new obsession is “Planet Earth,” an 11-part series about our planet, filmed over a 5-year period in 200 different locations. We watched at least 4 of the 11 episodes while she was here, including the one dedicated to life in caves, and let’s just say that any misconceptions we may have had about bat poop HAVE BEEN CLEARED UP.

“Is that what I think it is?” she asked as the camera panned up a 300-ft tall mountain of bat droppings.

“That depends on what you think it is,” I answered.

“I think we’re looking at a heap of bat poo.” And for the next seven hours I had to resist blurting out BAT POO whenever there was a lull in conversation.

Up until that point in my life I hadn’t ever been confronted with the idea that bats excrete anything, let alone the fact that this excrement would perform such a vital function in their habitat. That mound of Very Important Bat Poo provides essential nutrients to millions of cockroaches who in turn serve as food for something else, and so on and so on, and years later you’re sitting there eating a chicken burrito for dinner that was made possible because some bat flying around in a cave in New Mexico decided to use the potty. SCIENCE IS AWESOME.

So we get to the end of the episode where they take a couple of minutes to show how the camera crews infiltrate these areas to get such interesting shots, and there’s this British camera man talking about the suits they all have to wear while filming so that the cockroaches don’t crawl into their pants, and he keeps referring and gesturing to the mountain of poo behind him. Except his accent makes it so that when he says POO, it sounds like he’s talking about some sort of rare, elegant cheese you might serve with expensive champagne, and suddenly Leah’s looking at me, and I’m looking at her, like, I know we’re supposed to be grossed out, but this man could be describing maggot larvae and I’d still want to throw my panties at the television.

  • melissa

    2007/12/12 at 10:30 am

    i feel like such a number…150 comments…my god girl, that’s amazing!
    anyway…i’m never eating anything…ever…you just helped my diet by letting me know everything i eat has been touched, in some way, by bat poo! thank you! i owe you…big!

  • Ron

    2007/12/12 at 10:35 am

    Oh God, Heather….you freaking make me laugh so hard…I could just do a poo!

    Holy Bat Shit, Robin!


  • Shelley

    2007/12/12 at 10:51 am

    Thanks for the laugh. I too had never thought of bat poop.

  • brenna

    2007/12/12 at 10:56 am

    🙂 it’s such an amazing film! my sister is visiting us and i’m making her watch it.
    the bat poo grosses me out so much! 🙂

  • Mother Earth

    2007/12/12 at 11:18 am

    having a son who’s alter ego for an entire year was batman ( age 5 – papers all signed batman – very serious stuff – still have them all) when I saw this show I was completely fascinated – here was more we didn’t know about bats and told in a way that in itself is an artform to behold

    I found your blog through Liz strauss and her SOB’s – been back daily since and have shared

    your at least a daily hearty roar – sometimes a roar and a half

    delighted to meet you

    If only we had this way of expressing ourselves 20 years ago

    I might have been sane while raising my own

  • hotpants

    2007/12/12 at 1:27 pm

    i had to turn my head when they showed the cockroaches, but planet earth is the best. i’ve seen half the episodes & can’t wait to watch the rest.

  • jeanne

    2007/12/12 at 11:25 am

    Netflix has the David Attenborough version – sweet! Love him so much – I’d like to have him over for linguine and clams.

    Oh, God, Scottish accents! If I could have Alan Cumming talking dirty into one ear and James McAvoy in the other, I’d dissolve into a happy pool of LAVA.

  • Miss Obtuse

    2007/12/12 at 11:26 am

    That episod made me barf, i was ok with the bat poop but the cockroachs were just gross.

  • Jenn

    2007/12/12 at 11:29 am

    Brilliant as always Heather. BTW – you know you want to visit my site- I wrote something, okay a lot of things, about you….

  • A Seattleite in Paris

    2007/12/12 at 11:31 am

    My boyfriend is English and I’m always giving him a hard time about his accent, because it makes me laugh. I must be one of the very few American females who don’t have a thing for English accents. Scottish accents on the other hand…

  • manda

    2007/12/12 at 11:37 am

    I love science documentaries. I’m in the process of helping one of my professors make one about beg bugs. It’s pretty awesome. Bats are amazying little creatures especially when they live in symbiosis with certain types of birds.

  • GirlDuJourToday

    2007/12/12 at 11:46 am

    So this guy was like the Tom Jones of bat poo then?

  • Raych

    2007/12/12 at 11:49 am

    Have you seen the episode with the elephants caught in the dust storm, and then they all make it safely to shelter except the one, and the last shot is of the one elephant, clearly near the end of his rope, staggering off on the African savannah but IN THE WRONG DIRECTION? Because of the dust? And you know he’s doomed, but HE doesn’t know, and he just keeps on keeping on? It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.

  • estefania

    2007/12/12 at 11:56 am

    Thanks for the inspiration! I’m going to make a Xmas gift of that lovely POO filled (BAT POO!) DVD series to my folks. They love poo.

    I must disagree on the Brit accents, though. After living 18 months in london, that accent became a bit commonplace -or too associated with that ‘c’ word which gets passed around like the town whore’s ‘C’.

    The IRISH lads, though! Hel-lo BOYS!

  • JW

    2007/12/12 at 12:00 pm

    It’s not just you A Seattleite in Paris. I had to buy the Sigourney Weaver version because the Attenborough version reminded me of John Cleese, and you just can’t watch Planet Earth narrated by Basil Fawlty.

    That said, Planet Earth is AWESOME. And the Dog Whisperer is “the emperor in new clothes.”

  • LJ

    2007/12/12 at 1:27 pm

    But seriously, isn’t GUANO the best word ever to say? I mean, for me, it tops “poop” even. And it’s an excellent word for slurs. “Guano-filled bucket of lies” is a much better phrase for your significant other than “poophead” during a heated discussion.

  • Shylah

    2007/12/12 at 1:28 pm

    Mm. Bat poo.

    So, how does one get verified?

  • Kim

    2007/12/12 at 1:30 pm

    I love Planet Earth.
    I also had never thought of dogs feet smelling like Fritos.
    Great description!

  • Daisy

    2007/12/12 at 1:35 pm

    We are watching all of them too. I feel sorry for the camera men though. Especially the two who had to live on Antarctica for 2 years to get the perfect shots of Penguin’s. I turned to my husband and said ‘did they REALLY have to do that just so we could watch the penguins?’ They could have just told us about them.

  • Kate

    2007/12/12 at 2:20 pm

    When I first bought the HDtv, the cable guy set it up and immediately turned on Planet Earth for some reason. I was addicted from there on out, and I’m dying for the whole dvd set.

    The best part of that cave one though is the albino lizard thing with no eyes. That thing was fucked up.

  • Music Critic

    2007/12/12 at 2:10 pm

    The best thing is that there was bat poo (animal stool) on the Office last week:

    “Poop is raining from the ceilings!”

  • lucy loo

    2007/12/12 at 2:28 pm

    I do love British accents but find South African accents even sexier!

  • timmi

    2007/12/12 at 2:37 pm

    God, you’re funny.

  • mirela

    2007/12/12 at 4:06 pm

    Just reading your post, and I want to see Planet Earth so bad (first time I hear about it). Is it worth buying the DVD set (kinda pricey…)?

  • Carrie

    2007/12/12 at 5:36 pm

    I love Planet Earth! I bought the whole set on Amazon for a fairly decent price.

    But I first saw them all when Discovery premiered them earlier this summer. And when I saw the Cave Episode..and the Bat Poo…I totally almost fainted. That shit was scary (no pun intended). Especially since it’s CRAWLING WITH ROACHES!!


  • erin

    2007/12/12 at 5:38 pm

    you are funny. also, planet earth RULEZ. i am through the entire thing and wishing there was more!

  • Black Belt Mama

    2007/12/12 at 7:46 pm

    We’re obsessed with “The Dog Whisperer” too and we don’t even own a dog!

    My friend married a British man this past summer, and when he talks I can barely concentrate on what he’s saying. I certainly can’t argue with him about anything. That accent is awesome.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

read more