Surfin’ the web

“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.”

Call me gullible. Call me naive. Or just call me stupid and be done with it.

As a child, my young mind actually bought into the baloney of Spider-Man. Y’know, the whole thing about “if you get bit by a spider, you’ll be able to do everything a spider can do.” I actually used to think, “Hey, it’s possible, man, the same way Gamma rays transformed Dr. Bruce Banner into The Incredible Hulk.”

“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.”

But, c’mon … as a kid, shooting webs out of your wrists looked cool. Swinging gracefully from building to building without the help of public transportation was an admirable talent. And, to a young, athletically challenged boy, eating flies seemed a lot easier than catching them in the outfield. So it all sounded like a great idea.

“Look out! Here comes the Spider-Man.”

Then I got bit by a spider.

I never saw it and I never felt it, so I never got a chance to curse at the spider that bit me. Northern Black Widow? Yellow Sac spider? Brown Recluse? (Yes they are this far north and here’s your beer, Uncle Eddie.) The only evidence the spider left last month was a calling card of two fang marks on the back of my hand and a little swelling.

Now, I know spiders hang out in stacks of old firewood. And, yes, I was splitting and hauling old firewood for three days. And, yes, I saw a mess of spiders. But I was wearing gloves, long sleeves and safety glasses. I looked like a poster boy for the National Safety Council! How that eight-legged devil got through my well-planned defenses is a tale that will remain a favorite to be told again and again down at the spider lodge.

Now, if you thought that believing in comic book science was enough to classify me as stupid, wait’ll you hear the next level of imbecility that followed: For the next few days my hand continued to swell up and started turning black. Even so, I kept thinking, “Yeah, but that’ll go away.” As my wife begged me, I kept insisting, “No need for the emergency room … emergency? What emergency?”

Well, let’s see, Jack … the emergency could be the loss of fingers. Or the loss of a hand. The loss of an arm. Or even the loss of life. So, as it turns out, I was emulating a cartoon character … by the name of Jughead.

I ended up spending a week in Albany Medical Center. While there, as the doctors worked to cut out the infection, I encountered some fellow cartoon characters with unique powers all their own.

There was Mel the Menace, one of my roommates whose superpower was annoying the hell out of anyone he came in contact with. Shouting Shaquilla, a nurse who could make walls crumble with the devastatingly high volume of her voice. Victoria Velvet, my night nurse, who had the power of reassurance that could talk me off the ledge.

At some point early in my stay I realized the hospital itself possessed a superpower that could lay any human low: sleep deprivation. Temperature checks at two o’clock in the morning. Blood pressure and blood sugar checks at 4 a.m. Then there was Waker Willie from Orthopedics who showed up between 4:45 and 5 in the morning (every day) to wake me up and just let me know that the team from Orthopedics would be coming by sometime later (every day). Then he would leave and I never saw him again until the following morning at 4:45. (Every day!) At first I thought he was an apparition: “Did I really see that guy?” And then I realized it was the hospital doing its evil thing.

If you’re looking for a moral to this story, I guess first of all, it would be to steer clear of spiders. But more importantly, just keep in mind that while you may be a super human, you’re not super-human.

In other words you’re not iron, man.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today