When I say it aloud now, it sounds like an outright moronic idea, but I was desperate to find my superhero powers. I had tried everything.
I spent a month hanging out at a power plant hoping to be exposed to radiation. Nada. Then I lathered in sewer ooze and scarfed down cheese pizzas. Nothing but terrible skin and indigestion. I signed up for secret government experiments, tried my hand at street vigilantism, and let seven different spiders bite me. I had exhausted the superpowers subreddit, as well as all of the antibiotic ointment in my parents’ medicine cabinet.
And when the pet store wouldn’t refund me for those seven spiders, I did what any reasonable, down on his luck, radiated, oozed, acned, and severely spiderbitten guy would have done. I snapped.
I dont know if I bit that spider (Spider No. 4, I think) out of frustration, desperation, or irony, but it was certainly conduct unbecoming of a superhero. But also, it was the first time I noticed something, well, different. My tongue went immediately numb and my equilibrium skewed. I thought I smelled something burning, and then I was pretty sure I could hear something burning, and then I was SURE I was burning.
An hour later, when I came to, everything was blurry. My legs felt like jelly and my stomach churned. I was about to barf, HARD. Was this the sewer pizza incident all over again? I moved for the toilet, hunched over, and retched. Nothing. From the depths of my stomach I heaved. Nada. My stomach readied for another chunder but the moment of explosion manifested only in a light whimper… an unassuming, feeble silk strand trickled out.
I didn’t need to look up at the vanity to know something was wrong, but I did need to see just how wrong it was. Staring back at me was me, just spider-ier. I had new appendages, legs, I guess, sprouting out of my, I guess, thorax. If that wasn’t jarring enough, I was enveloped in a thick coat of hair, like a superhero whose superpowers were superpuberty.
Sewing was always a slow and tedious process, but now with eight arms, my new suit was done in a jif. Also, I had started saying things like, “in a jif” and realized Spider No. 4 must have been a dad. The suit fit well enough, but also, it was clear why Stan Lee’s Spiderman was more man than spider. I did not look intimidating, cool, or deserving of respect. I would have stepped on me.
To wow the world, I was going to need tricks, which meant honing my web work and agility. So far my most relevant experience in the field was “frequent hammock user,” which was even less impressive because it was basically a résumé lie. How did anyone ever stay on those prank swings?
I needed a place with high ceilings and soft floors, where I could practice my gliding and dangling. A trampoline park or indoor pool or even Costco mattress section would work. I googled all three at once while I put on my shoes, recognizing that at very worst, I could be a virtuoso stenographer or a super-schticky pianist (and super sticky if I could get the web thing to work).
I pictured myself playing jazz standards at the fancy Italian restaurant downtown. I imagined the owner being skeptical because of my non-traditional appearance, but then deciding to let me play, in the dimly lit back corner of the dining room. I was livid at the owner’s prejudice and realized I could never work for such an asshole, before remembering I had made up the entire scenario. More pressingly, I needed a solution to get to SkySprings Tramp Park since this new body was not fitting into my Mazda Miata.
Did I need to splurge for the UberXL? Probably not, but I figured anyone who drove an Escalade had seen some shit and would be more likely to be discrete. But as the car got nearer, I got nervous and cancelled. I didn’t want to traumatize all of the kids, and moreover didn’t want to have to spidermansplain everything. Thinking back, didn’t every Spiderman always try out their shit under the cover of night?
Most days I would say “Fuck Uber and its $5 cancellation policy,” but today I had bigger battles, so I took the hit. One day soon, I wouldn’t even need Uber; I was about to become a superhero who saved people from Uber!
Peter Parker’s uncle told him that with great power comes great responsibility, but since my powers weren’t great yet, neither was my responsibility. I’ll figure shit out tomorrow.