Spiderman: The Next Generation


"This just don't make no damn sense!" My wife said walking into the bedroom. I quickly stuffed the remaining chocolate chip cookie into my mouth to hide the fact that I was eating cookies in the bedroom. She looked at me, rolled her eyes and shook her head. That's not unusual. She does that a lot. "What's wrong sweetie?" I inquired through a mouthful of cookie. I added "sweetie" at the end to further distract her. "Two things." She said, "First is your son and second is you thinking I won't notice you're eating cookies in the bedroom." Dammit, how does she know these things? She read the look on my face before saying aloud, "Dammit, how does she know these things?" She shook her head again. (See I told you she does that a lot). I swallowed the remaining cookie and asked what my son had done. She eyed me and said, "I expected certain things to be passed on through the genes, eye color and hair color, that kind of thing is fine. But you pass along your damn issues." "What did I do now?" I asked. I'm used to being in trouble in my house. Even if I have no idea what I've done. "Why don't you go downstairs and see for yourself." She said.

Before I can tell that story I have to tell this story in order to give it some context. When I was growing up I loved Spiderman. But I didn't just love Spiderman, I wanted to be Spiderman. I was convinced that if anyone in the entire universe, deserved to be Spiderman, it was me.

I am still convinced of this fact. So deep is my conviction to this belief, I just called it a fact. I'll believe what I want. You can't stop me!

In second grade, as Halloween approached, I asked my parents if I could be Spiderman for the class costume party. They said yes so for the next few weeks that's all I talked about. "Spidaman! I'm gonna be Spidaman for Halloween! Spidaaaa maaaaaan! Yes! "Wow that's great!" a girl named Laurie said to me as I stood on the desk doing my best, I'm-gonna-be-Spidaman-dance. "I'm going to be Spiderman too." She said. My reveling stopped short. "What?! You can't be Spiderman, you're a girl." "Yes I can. Girls can do whatever they want!" She retorted hotly. "Yes they can. As long as it has to do with cooking, cleaning and babies." I said. This was 1972 It would take me another twenty four years before I realized that indeed, girls can do whatever the hell they want, whether I think it makes sense or not. In fact, according to my wife, what I think, is highly specious and most often irrelevant.

As the day of the party drew closer I became more and more nervous since I had not seen the familiar store-bought costume made of cheap red and blue felt, and the oh so coveted plastic Spiderman face mask, complete with the rubberband that held it somewhere near the area of the head. "Don't worry about it." My father said sternly. You'll have it by the day of the party.

The morning of the party arrived and there was no Spiderman costume. In fact there was no costume whatsoever. I was panicked. How could I face everyone without my Spiderman costume? "Don't worry about it." My father assured, "We'll go out this morning, buy the costume and bring it to school in time for the party." I was relieved. But only slightly.

That entire morning I couldn't concentrate. My eyes kept flashing toward the door, waiting for my parents to walk in holding the costume aloft, like conquering heroes. I played the scene over and over in my head in slow motion. Complete with appropriate theme music.

When the teacher, Mrs. Friedman announced that it was time for everyone to change into their costumes, my parents still hadn't arrived. Everyone sat in their costumes cross-legged in a circle. There were two Batmen, and one Superman. I felt naked sitting there in my civilian clothes. To make matters worse, Laurie sat directly across from me. Dressed as Spiderman.

I hated her.

Just then my parents opened the door of the classroom holding a bag from Zayre's. "Yes!" I leapt from the circle, "Spidaman! Spidamaaaaan baby! Take that Laurie!" I was going to show her what the real Spiderman looked like!

I reached into the bag excitedly and pulled out the yellow skirt. What? That doesn't make any sense! Clearly my parents had gotten the wrong superhero. How could they have confused The Green Arrow with Spiderman? Everyone knows Spiderman's costume is red and blue. Silly parents, what am I going to do with you!

I reached into the bag again and pulled out the plastic face mask. I turned it over to reveal the gnarled, green face of a witch complete with a large, black mole on her nose. (Oh yes, you read that correctly. There's no need to go back and re-read it. I said "witch". As in a girls' costume! Feel free to sob uncontrollably in disappointment if you wish.)

Needless to say, I was devastated. "Th-this is a…witch." I said, my bottom lip quivering. "I know." my father said, "We looked everywhere but they were out of Spiderman costumes." "Uh-huh." I said trying to swallow the growing lump in my throat, "But this is a witch… And I'm a boy. Do you remember Papa? I'm your son." I was sure he had forgotten. "That's all they had." My father explained. "Yes… but… this is a witch…" I was trying to explain to him through peerless second grade logic that a witch was the exact opposite of Spiderman. One was spectacularly awesome while the other one was lame and girly.

So there I sat, in the circle dressed in green and yellow, the witch mask sat on top of my head like a cap. I refused to pull it over my face. Superman flew around the class, and the two Batmen jumped around singing the theme from the television series and stupid Laurie whooped it up, spraying imaginary webbing over everyone.

My hatred for her grew stronger.

I tried to make the best of it by pointing out that in fact a witch had magic super powers that could defeat nearly everyone, including Superman. But everyone saw it for what it was. Lame and girly.

By all accounts I should have died that day. The fact that I managed to survive is a wonder to modern medicine. It's a miracle I'm still here to tell this story.

I walked downstairs following a trail of scotch tape. When I reached the living room I found my son standing in the middle of the floor decked out in his full body Spiderman costume, sans underwear of course. (What self respecting superhero wears underwear under his costume?) On his head he wore a cloth, pull-over mask, just like the real Spiderman would wear. I quickly went over the checklist in my head: Awesome Spiderman costume that I only dreamed of having as a child. Check. Naked under said awesome costume. Check. So far I didn't see what my wife was complaining about. In fact everything I saw was not only normal, it was fantastic!

That's when I saw it. In an attempt to climb the living room walls my son had wrapped rolls of scotch tape around each hand.

"Sweet!" I said under my breath.

I then went into the kitchen and rifled through the drawers looking for duct tape. It was obvious that if he was going to climb walls, he was going to need stronger tape.


Chicago from the Lake