Bats in the Belfry


Melissa Stagnaro

The August day dawned with nary a thunderstorm nor heat wave in sight. The sun was shining. The sky was blue. A temperate 70 something degrees with virtually no humidity, it appeared to be the perfect day for a wedding.

We can imagine the blushing bride, light hearted on this gorgeous day. She is anxious and excited as she arrives at the church early to prepare for her impending nuptials. She has dreamed about this day since she was a young girl.

Thoughts of her soon-to-be-husband fill her thoughts as she puts the finishing touches on makeup, hair and flowers. So consumed by details and daydreams, she is unprepared for the sudden appearance of a very  unwelcome, uninvited guest.

Peril strikes quickly with the beating of wings as razor sharp teeth pierce soft flesh.

That’s how my admittedly overactive imagination set the scene, like the opening sequence of an old horror movie starring Bela Lugosi, as I watched an ambulance pull up outside Greene’s Central Baptist Church on Saturday. I had learned just moments before that a bride-to-be had been bitten by a bat.

As a bystander, I can’t claim first hand knowledge of the circumstances that lead up to the bite or what transpired after. I didn’t feel it was right to start asking too many questions. I think those involved were probably scarred enough by the experience.

I do know that, once the emergency squad departed, the bride and groom went on with the ceremony as planned.

The bride is definitely made of sterner stuff than me. There is a distinct possibility that getting bitten by a bat may have “deterred” me from walking up that aisle, no matter who was waiting for me at the altar.

I usually have a healthy respect for bats. I thoroughly appreciate their mosquito munching efforts and think the whole echo-location thing is pretty cool. And while I’m not necessarily a superstitious person by nature, I probably still would have seen it as a sign.

Sure, maybe I’m a lily-livered pansy, but look at it this way: You don’t hear of many bat attacks outside of B-movies and supermarket tabloids.

Not wanting to jump to any conclusions about what this event could portend for the couple’s future, I turned to the internet for guidance.

After a quick search for ‘bats and brides’ yielded nothing but references to the Bride of Dracula, I started looking at the superstition angle. While my fears were initially confirmed by a mention on oldsuperstitions.com that the presence of a bat in a church during a wedding ceremony was a bad omen, not everything I found was quite as ominous.

According to globalpsychics.com, the animal symbolizes “coming away from the old” and “facing our fears.” That seems pretty wedding-ish to me. (I know that’s probably not a word, but you know what I mean.)

The Chinese apparently see bats as symbols of long life and happiness. At least that’s what shamanism.tribe.net has to say about it. The site also says that, according to the people of early America, “the bat is emblematic of shamanistic initiation and rebirth.”

I hope that the newlyweds aren’t superstitious. I hope they realize that they, not some winged rodent, determine their destiny. I sincerely wish them the best of luck as they start their life together.