— 1 —
IF YOU WANT TO HEAR about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents died and all, and all that Batman kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, you should be bored by that stuff by now, and in the second place, my Aunt May would about have two hemorrhages if I told anything like that.
Where I want to start telling is the day I got bit by a radioactive spider at Midtown High School. Midtown is this school that’s in Forest Hills, New York. You probably heard of it. You’ve probably seen the ads, anyway. It’s all over the television, always showing some hot-shot guy dunking a basketball. Like as if all you ever did at Midtown was dunk basketballs all the time. Midtown isn’t any more special than any other school. And I don’t know anybody there that was splendid and clear-thinking and all, except for maybe M.J. You should see her. You never saw a girl so pretty and smart in your whole life. She’s really smart.
Anyway, I lived with my Aunt May and Uncle Ben. They liked having me around. At least, I think they did. They were both around seventy years old, or even more than that, at the time. They got a bang out of things though — in a half-assed way, of course. I know that sounds mean to say, but I don’t mean it mean. It’s just, if you thought about them too much, you wondered what the heck they were still living for.
— 2 —
SOME THINGS ARE HARD TO REMEMBER. I’m thinking now of when I got bit by that spider. I remember around three o’clock that afternoon I was sitting in a classroom at Midtown. All of a sudden the door opened and old Flash Thompson barged in followed by Liz Allan and Sally Avril. He was always in a big hurry. Everything was a big deal. “Hey, it’s Peter Parker, Midtown High’s only professional wallflower!” he said. “You going out anywheres special tonight?”
“I don’t know. There’s a great new exhibit at the science hall tonight. Would any of you like to go with me?”
“Science Hall! Hah! You stick to the science son! I’ll take the chicks!” Flash said. “See you around, Bookworm!” He went out of the room with Liz and Sally following behind. I felt like jumping out of my chair and getting old Flash Thompson in a half nelson. I wanted to land on him like the goddam Black Panther. I got the hell out of there and went to the science hall.
It was still pretty early. Except for a few Joe Yale-looking scientists, and a few pimply-looking students, the science hall was pretty empty. Most of the exhibits looked corny. I walked over to one setup where the sign read: EXPERIMENTS IN RADIO-ACTIVITY. There wasn’t anything special about it, just two glowing red orbs. That’s when I got bit by that goddam spider. All I felt was this terrific sting on my neck. I thought I was dying. I really did. I thought I was drowning or something. I didn’t have any goddam choice except to leave.
I walked all the way back home. Forty-one gorgeous blocks. I was starting to feel pretty good. The whole thing was sort of funny, in a way, if you thought about it. I did something I shouldn’t have. I started climbing up the side of a building. I felt like I had the strength of about fifty Captain Americas. I climbed down the building and got a cab and told the driver to take me down to Crusher’s. Crusher’s is this gym in Greenwich Village. Crusher’s a big fat wrestler who’ll pay you $100 if you can stay in the ring with him for three minutes. He’s so good he’s almost corny, in fact. I’d only been in about two fights in my life, and I lost both of them. I’m not too tough. I’m a pacifist, if you want to know the truth.
— 3 —
AFTER I BEAT OLD CRUSHER, I sat in a chair for a while and smoked a couple of cigarettes. I felt like going and finding Flash Thompson or something, but I couldn’t do it.
All of a sudden, while I was sitting there this hoodlummy-looking guy runs towards me with a cop chasing after him.
“Stop! Thief! Stop him! If he makes it to the elevator, he’ll get away!” the cop yelled.
I wasn’t tired or anything, but I made out like I didn’t even hear him. The thief made it into the elevator and the door closed.
“What’s WITH you, mister?? All you hadda do was trip him, or hold him just for a minute!” the cop said.
“Sorry pal,” I said. “That’s YOUR job! I’m thru being pushed around — by anyone! From now on I just look out for number one — that means — me!”
I left Crusher’s pretty soon after that.
When I got outside, it was just getting dark out. It was pretty cold too, but it felt good. I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t want to stay out. So finally all I did was walk back home.
— 4 —
THAT’S ALL I’m going to tell about. I could probably tell you what I found when I got home, and about uncle Ben being murdered and all, and how I’m an Avenger now, but I don’t feel like it. I really don’t. That stuff doesn’t interest me too much right now.
Anyway, one time, Tony Stark asked me what I thought about all this having superpowers now. I didn’t know what the hell to say. If you want to know the truth, I don’t know what I think about it. It’s funny. About all I know is that, in this world, with great power there must also come — great responsibility!