The children were instructed to come dressed as their favorite superheroes, and I wasn't thrilled about having to scramble around in June to find a costume for my son -- heck, I didn't even know where one finds a costume in the summertime. All the other moms I knew already had superhero costumes for their boys in their closets, and I took it as a sign of obvious maternal incompetence that I did not already own such attire for my four-year-old.
The mother of the birthday boy kindly suggested that I could "get creative" and make up my own costume, but I knew better than to attempt that project -- with my luck, Evan would show up as a home-crafted superhero and the other children would ask him why he was dressed up as a turd... because that's about my level of talent when it comes to making homemade costumes.
Evan was extremely excited, however, for he had heard that Spider-Man would be performing at the party -- "performing" meaning telling jokes and signing autographs. Again, I was a bit confused, as a joke-telling Spider-Man seemed like a disappointing concept -- shouldn't Spider-Man be fighting bad guys, not doing stand-up? I had therefore been seriously considering attending this party dressed in a black spandex bodysuit and ski mask, and launching a surprise attack on Spider-Man during his show just to add a little drama to the mix... but then I thought better of it -- mostly because I'd look like hell in a skin-tight pantsuit.
We managed to find a Batman costume for Evan at a local party superstore. It only came in one size, and although it claimed to fit a four-year-old, perhaps the manufacturer meant a four-year-old grizzly bear. It was ridiculously large and ill-fitting. Evan didn't care though -- he proudly donned the suit as soon as we got back from the store and proceeded to run around the yard, ducking and swooping... and pulling up his pants. He looked just like Batman... if Batman had suddenly developed a bowel control problem that forced him to fight crime with a pound of poo weighing down his tighty-whities. The "butt" of the costume was at my son's knees. I couldn't let him go to the party looking like that.
So on Saturday morning I got up extra-early and dug out my dust-covered sewing machine. I couldn't remember how to thread it and couldn't find the manual, so I decided I'd sew up the costume with the black thread that was already loaded in the machine. I had to chop the costume in half at the waist, fold it over several times, and then sew the whole thing back together. It created an odd effect, and the "belt" ended up practically covering my son's crotch, but hey, at least he didn't look like he had a load of crap in his pants.
We arrived at the party to find another boy in a Batman costume, and Evan's face visibly fell when he realized he had competition. This was all forgotten, however, when Spider-Man arrived. The masked hero was dressed in a skintight spandex costume and came complete with his own boom-box that played his theme song as he made his entrance. He jumped on the tables, leaped over furniture, and generally thrashed about. One child erupted into giggles... another into tears. Evan just sat there with his brow furrowed and his mouth hanging open. The birthday boy wailed and repeatedly screamed "I wanna go HOOOOME!!!!" When he was told he wouldn't be going home, he asked, between sobs and hiccups, if he could at least go hang out in the car until Spider-Man left.
I had to admit that Spider-Man was pretty intimidating. He was lean and muscular, and he had two shiny, mirrored half-moons where a person's eyes should be. Add the leaping about, and I could see how he could be scary. Then he started handing out Pop Rocks and lollipops, and suddenly he became considerably less intimidating. He played a variation of "Duck, Duck, Goose" with the children (his version was called "Spider, Spider, Venom"), asked them some trivia questions, and then posed for pictures with the kids.
I had a sudden impulse to pose for a snapshot with Spidey myself -- I imagined myself draped over him like a damsel in distress, and my heart did a little thumpety-thump. What is it about men in uniform... or, uh, superhero costumes, that make women swoon?
Spider-Man finished his show and bid the children farewell, then retreated to the bathroom. Ten minutes later, a very average-looking, quiet, almost self-conscious man came out and joined us at the buffet table. He sat quietly and timidly picked at some macaroni and cheese. The spell was broken -- this was the guy I had wanted to drape myself over? Wow.
All in all, the party was a huge success, and my son believed the Spider-Man performance completely. He did spend quite a bit of time puzzling over how Spider-Man got out of the bathroom, however, but he finally decided that Spidey must have gone out the window and he let the matter drop. He has been talking about the party nonstop since Saturday, and he even wore his Spider-Man snow boots to a picnic on Sunday in the summer heat. He was too proud to take them off. He had seen the real Spider-Man, and his life would never be the same.
And I think mine has changed a bit too -- apparently I secretly harbor superhero fantasies. Who knew? So, I would like to alert my female friends: if we ever go out for a girls' night... we can skip the male strip clubs.
I need a hero!
My son poses with Spidey!