Without question, my favorite superhero is and has always been the amazing Spider-Man. His red-and-blue visage resides even in my earliest memories. And when I was only in the second grade, I informed my mom that I was going to be Spider-Man at the costume contest.
My mother probably said something silly like: “What costume contest?”
That would be when I told her, for the very first time, about a huge costume contest my school was having in two days – a contest every student was required to attend. I probably reiterated my choice of Spider-Man three or four times before mom finally broke down in frustration. (I did this sort of thing to her a lot. I’m sure she looked for a tiny 666 birthmark every time she combed my evil little head.)
The following day, mom was feverishly toiling away on my costume. Being seven years old, I didn’t notice nor care. In fact, I’d already forgotten about the whole thing – probably got a new Ranger Rick in the mail that day or something.
So when the day of the contest arrived and my mother presented me with the Spider-Man costume she had spent the last twelve or so hours making, I thoughtfully wasted no time in informing her that what she was holding was definitely not a Spider-Man costume.
My mother probably said something silly like: “What do you mean it’s not a Spider-Man costume?”
For one thing, it was green.
For another thing, it had a cape (a removable cape with a fancy webbing motif, but a cape nevertheless).
And it had one of those fruity little eye-masks like the one Robin the Boy Wonder wore.
Lastly, it was freaking green.
I pretty much only wore it because my mom would’ve buried me in it if I didn’t. And because it didn't bear even a remote resemblance to my favorite superhero, I spent the entire morning trying to come up with a fake superhero (or villain) moniker to use in place of Spider-Man so that when the time came to present my costume, I could play it off as a unique original*. But everything I came up with was decidedly unacceptable.
The Jade Tarantula! No, sounded too much like an oriental treasure.
Green Widow! Oh, sure. And everyone would be asking where my egg sac was and how many boyfriends I’d eaten.
Captain Arachnid! Eh, might’ve worked if the whole “Captain Kirk” thing hadn’t already been a troubling and persistent reality.
The fact of the matter was I felt like Aphid-Boy!
So when it was my turn to step up to the microphone and I was still drawing a blank on a hero name that would suffice, I just went ahead and said it: “My costume is Spider-Man.”
I didn’t care at that point. It wasn’t the Spider-Man my snot-nosed peers were used to seeing and I’d certainly be psychologically abused by them for it later, but my mom had made the costume for me and regardless of its vast inaccuracies, it wasn’t merely a felt spider glued to a set of old long johns (which is probably what I’d have been wearing were I left to go it alone).
Well, long story short, either the judges had never actually seen Spider-Man or had been too polite to ask me to repeat myself because I ended up taking home the blue ribbon.
Wait, no, that’s not right. I won first place and was indeed given a blue ribbon, but I did not, in fact, take it home. The ribbon was my sole reward for winning the all-school costume contest but, again, being seven years old, I didn’t care. In fact, by second recess, I’d already forgotten about the whole thing. The ribbon probably ended up at the bottom of a sandbox.
When I got home from school, my costume was battered, my ribbon was nonexistent and my mother was anxious to hear how it went. I told her I’d won the whole shebang even though my costume didn’t look a thing like Spider-Man but that I’d lost the ribbon they gave me. I think I reiterated the last couple of details three or four times before she finally broke down in frustration.
Did I mention I did this sort of thing to her a lot?
Epilogue: You’ll be happy to know mom did eventually come to learn precisely what Spider-Man looked like (just in time for his suit to turn black).
* which, I guess, is exactly what it was.