There are those who might believe that my cinematic history with Batman prevents me from the hero worship of any other crimefighter, and for a time those people would’ve been absolutely correct. But as the statute of limitations on my NDA with Wayne Industries has reached its maturation date, I feel that it’s safe for me to step out of the shadows to tell you about a time when I was the real Spider-Man. It’s the classic tale of an awkward young man gifted with supernatural powers. A battle between Good and Evil. The uplifting story of an underdog. A comedy, tonight.
It all started with that stupid ski mask.
The red one, with the black webbing pattern and the heavy mascara around the eyes.
I had Spider-Man’s mask.
It was a gift from the gods of K-Mart, that mask.
There was little doubt in my mind that this Spider-Man mask was going to mark the beginning of my rise to stardom.
Did I mention that this was in the 8th grade?
Like all good struggles between Good and Evil, I was quickly faced with a dilemma. Instead of choosing between the robber and Uncle Ben, I had to choose between going to our Junior High’s Halloween Ball and staying at home like I usually did.
But things were different now…. I had Spider-Man’s mask!!
Any kid could tell you that 90% of Spider-Man’s coolness comes not from his ability to spin webs, but his cool-ass white eyes. Dude could be an alcoholic checkout clerk at the Piggly Wiggly and he’d still be the biggest bad-ass in town because of those eyes. There’s something powerfully expressive about those white orbs… readers of the comics knew how old Spidey was doing by the shape of his eyes… screw the word balloons. We knew by the way they arched, narrowed, squinted and ballooned whether he was about to deal out some righteous webslinging or get a serious beatdown.
Spidey’s eyes were perfectly stupendous.
Mine looked permanently startled.
You couldn’t have held up a 7-11 in that mask if you’d tried. People would be laughing too hard.
I guess it was the way that damned mask pulled my face down and backwards at the same time that made it such a terrible joke, but for someone about to ascend the mighty throne of Royal Comicbook Coolness, I was going to have to do something about the eyes.
Did I mention the scratching?
The stupid thing was made from wool.
Until then I had never known that Peter Parker was swinging from web to web, high above the city streets, going slowly insane because he wanted to scratch his face off. Spider-Man wears the itchiest wool known to man. Plus it had a weird knack for getting around my mouth. I don’t think we had covered condensation in science class yet.
Or for that matter, psychological afflications.
While all the other guys were trying to figure out what they could wear to the dance in order to see the boobs of the cutest girls in our class, I was shopping in the J.C.Penney catalog for a blue jogging suit and pestering my Mom to drive us to the fabric store so I could get some red felt.
Looking back I have to ask myself the hard question: “Are you sure you aren’t gay?” to which I have to answer “Oh God, if I could only use that as an excuse”. No, the reality is that I would have trekked over deserts, swam across oceans and slipped around underneath the cheerleader’s end of the bleachers to see a girl’s boobs if only I had:
- known how to get underneath the bleachers
- located a desert within walking distance of my house
- been able to build a a Totally Bitching Superhero Costume that would make the girls just show me their tits
Naturally I went with Option C, since I had that perfectly bitching Spider-Man mask. You know, the one with the moist mouth and the ridiculously enormous eye holes that weren’t all-white.
The moist mouth was something I couldn’t fix, but the eyeholes were.
I began experimenting with T-shirts, dust rags and tubesocks, trying to find a material that would provide the correct bright white appearance and good visibility, eventually settling on a material with the brightness of old underwear and the transparency of molasses.
I had a good 2 or 3 feet of visibility and could keep from running into things if I walked REALLY slowly and held my arms up in front of me. Essentially the same thing a blind person might look like if they were stupid enough to put on a scratchy Spider-Man mask with a moist mouth and underwear eyes and allow themselves to be dropped off at a Junior High school dance.
Sadly, all I remember about the dance is walking into the lobby (very slowly, arms up in front of me), walking across the gymnasium (very slowly, arms up in front of me) and my one dance move of the evening: spinning….. which is kind of appropriate for Spider-Man.
It’s especially easy to do a Michael Jackson-style spin when you’re wearing sock feet and can’t see 100 people laughing at you walking across the gym with your arms up in front of your face.
In recent years I’ve attended many science fiction conventions and seen plenty of guys who show up wearing Spider-Man costumes. They may look sleeker, more muscular and more atheletic than I ever did…. their faces may not itch and they may not have moist mouths… but by THUNDER they still can’t spin on one foot like I did, lo those many years ago.