Dingbat

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The ding bat is a particularly notorious species of flying mammal. Discovered in the 3rd century A.D. by Doctor Livingstone, it remained mostly irrelevant until the 20th century.


edit Discovery

In approximately the year 248 A.D., the famous explorer and rock 'n' roll star Doctor David Livingstone led an expedition into deepest darkest Europe. Historians disagree as to his motives: some accept the stated desire to see how dark and deep Europe could get, while others insist that he was attempting to revive the flagging career of his band, The Exploring Stones. The latter cite as evidence the title of the expedition: the "Hey We're Still Alive" World Tour. After selling out concerts in deepest darkest Slovakia and deepest darkest Vigoria (an experimental country that never got past the beta version), the expedition took a wrong turn. Soon they were hopelessly lost in a very deep and very dark cave somewhere in Europe. While the rest of his expedition gloomily awaited the invention of flashlights, Doctor Livingstone confidently continued to record his observations in his Exploration Log. It is here that we find the first recorded observation of the ding bat. Part of the entry is reproduced here:

  • Mosch 2.3 vctV clerl altl. Om locjlming lv -lhink

Fortunately, historians have painstakingly reconstructed this message as a means of putting off studying for their final exams in Psychiatric Surgery. Here is how the entry was meant to read:

  • March 23. Very dark still. Am beginning to think that the others are correct in saying that we are not in Vienna. If we press on, however, I am confident that we shall surely reach that fabled city of depth and darkness within the next WHOA SOMETHING JUST LANDED ON ME GET IT OFF GET IT OFF


edit Primitive state

As Doctor Livingstone so astutely noted, the early ding bats were capable of landing on things. They were also capable of flying, echolocation, catching insects, and eating insects. As later investigators would determine, they were also prone to being trapped into ridiculous variable-rate mortgages.

Despite these many talents, most of the ding bats felt empty and unfulfilled. A common practice among them was to wander through forests, aimlessly thumping trees as they passed by (thumping was another of their abilities. Rumors that they could effortlessly impersonate Phil Rizzuto, on the other hand, are entirely false).

And unfulfilled they were, indeed. Their moment of tarnishing glory lay in the future.

edit Advanced state

Things changed in the 16th century, when ding bats discovered fire. Actually, fire might have been a less destructive thing for them to discover. What they actually discovered was the hammer. Ding bats still roamed through forests, aimlessly thumping trees, but now some were starting to use adorably tiny hammers, which made them feel less bad about themselves. The trend caught on, and soon even those ding bats who were unable to procure hammers were using wrenches, screwdrivers, rocks, Mariah Carey, or other basic tools.

The trees filed many injunctions against the ding bats' newly destructive activities, all of which failed on account of the judge being very hard of hearing.

The life of a ding bat was starting to be less awful. Hitting things with hammers was fun. Some ding bats became so enthusiastic about the activity that they tried hitting things that were not trees, such as bushes, mountains, each other, fences, and -- in one memorable incident -- the King of Spain's moustache.


edit Civilized state

Ding bats finally found their true calling in July 1970, shortly after the appearance of the automobile.

First, however, they discovered fire.

Did I say fire again? I meant booze. In late 1923, a young ding bat named something-unpronounceable-by-humans wandered into a pub in Great Britain and, on the spur of the moment, ordered a pint. The alcohol was probably not of the greatest quality, given that the pub in question had technically been shut down by the government of Ireland three days earlier on account of having horrible beer, but even so, it was delicious after a life-long diet of bugs. By 1930, an estimated 99.3% of ding bats in the world had given up being insectivores in favor of being boozeivores and could often be found hanging out in pubs, taverns, bars, and other purveyors of alcohol.

Alcohol. Hammers. Flying fuzzballs. Truly a recipe for disaster. The world waited with bated breath for what would happen next. Even the parts that didn't need to breathe.

edit Independent nation-state

As previously noted, the final shoe dropped in 1970. A different young ding bat, named Franklin D. Churchill for no discernible reason, was staggering drunkenly through the abandoned streets of New Orleans when it leaned against a new-fangled car for support. Clang! Her hammer smacked into the car's door, producing a high-pitched noise that was melodious music to the soused mammal's ears. Delighted, she attacked the car again and again, managing to hit it several more times. Early the next morning, the car's owner was perplexed to find half a dozen dents in his car's exterior. Over the years that followed, he would be joined by millions of confused people who, on exiting their apartments, bars, or WalMarts, found that their automobiles now occupied a slightly smaller amount of space than before.

Usually these reductions were blamed on careless drivers or renegade shopping carts. The idea that small, flying, drunken mammals were responsible only gained acceptance after a group of oceanographers at the renowned Port-au-Prince Institute demonstrated that ding bats were closely related, genetically, to gremlins and to those jerks who go around beating on mailboxes with baseball bats.

All injunctions against ding bats' destructive activities have failed, largely due to the judge inexplicably having died about 1500 years ago, and today a typical day in the life of a ding bat includes a trip with buddies to the local bar, followed by a dent-filled night on the town.


edit Equations of state

Ding bats tend to live in large population centers, such as Boston or WalMart parking lots. Their diet varies by geographic location, but tends to consist primarily of beer, ale, or whiskey.

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