Friendly neighbourhood.


Jumping around in cheap tights.


He needs a real job.


Hey, that’s a haiku.

You kids like Spideyman right? The dude that dresses in red and blue tights purchased from Tesco, jumping from wall to wall like some madman on the streets. Spideyman and I grew up in the same estate, this was back when he was just Peter. Back then, his face was predominantly puss and pinkish pimples, but we still stayed the best of chums.

Pete and I also attended the same secondary school. He would study triple science while I would study art and media subjects.


Now, before we continue with this chapter, one must first understand the social classes of secondary school. There is a hierarchy one must learn. You have the Mandem and Gyaldem - these where the cool kids of the food chain. You could catch Gyaldem from a mile away the way they bellowed nonsense to each other as if their companion was on the other side of the planet. Their ranking in ‘Gyaldemisim’ can be notified by the amount of gel they used to paste their god-given hair to the side of their face. Now the Mandem are just big and dumb - no descriptive analysis needed.


It should be mentioned however, that Mandem have a parallel league of gentlemen – this is where you would get bullies.


Below the Mandem and Gyaldem, you would have the ‘Anyguys’. This group of specimen is exact replicas of the Mandem and Gyaldem spectrum but do not carry the same behavioral traits outside of school hours. You would than have the Casuals. The Weirds. The Neeks. The Geeks. Then you would have Pete and me - and from the beginning to the end of high school we stayed at the bottom of the food chain.


Heads stuffed in toilets. Wedgies. Happy slaps. Happy punches. Happily kicked. Happily tackled. Oh what happy flashbacks. Peter and me had everything from stink bombs thrown in our lunch boxes to getting held on the train so we can’t get off at our stop. Times were highly emotional back then, dear readers.


Days before the incident, Peter started talking to me about the theory of natural selection. Now I couldn’t give two shakes of a lamb’s tail what Darwin had to say, but the idea he carried was intriguing. In order for a species to survive, they must constantly evolve into a stronger breed. If Pete and me wanted to make it out of the last academic year alive, we had to man our skinny selves up.


Peter Parker had a small issue though; he was madly in love with Mary Jane Watson. Even in Pete’s wildest dreams, he would never be able to come even five miles close to the beauty that was Mary. Let’s face it - Mary Jane was one of the Gyaldem and Pete… was just Pete.


Pete was like me, small, smelly, and insignificant (well this was before I became ULTRA). Culturally aware of the difference between he and she, Peter Parker never spoke to Mary Jane.


Hours before the incident, we were on the school van on our way to the Science Museum. Peter was talking uncontrollably during the journey about natural selection, and maybe one day we would become something greater. ‘Greater than the Mandem?’ I asked in curiosity. He shrugged his shoulders and continued to eat his neatly cut turkey slice.


Today was like any other day until Peter showed me the enormous spider bite he had on his right hand. Him, holding the hand in front of me with a stupid grin on his face waiting for my reaction.


‘You need to go hospital, you know?’

‘I know’ Peter Parker replied, still having the stupid smirk on his freckled face. Peter Parker ended up not going hospital, we like the idiots we were, carried on walking around the science museum like nothing happened. That’s when things began to change.


The morning after, I texted Peter to see if he was ready to meet me at the train station. Normally he would reply in the space of a minute or two but this morning he left no reply. No ‘sure thing’ or ‘yes-sery bob’ or ‘of corse buddy-o’…nothing. I waited for ten minutes straight; I was getting worried, dear readers.


I made the effort of walking to his flat, just to check if my compadre was doing fine. With my head hung low, I stretched my arm out to knock on the door. Before my knuckles could touch the furnished wood, the door swung open. It was then when I witnessed the most bizarre and bamboozling thing ever known to man.


‘What is this Pete?’ I asked in astonishment. ‘My name is no longer Peter’ Peter replied in heroic confidence. His body was covered from head to toe in skintight fabric. The red and blue spandex gripped onto every inch of his flesh. He stood before me in utter silence with his arms held at the waist. With his head pointed towards the sunset he swiftly turned to me and proclaimed in confidence:

‘I am Spideyman!’


Now, I understand he took a shaking from the spider bite yesterday, but actually calling yourself a spider and believing it is totally unacceptable - even by my standards. So what did I do? I walked off and left him to stay in his heroic pose for the rest of the day. I don’t think he took the bite very well.


Hours later in English class, Peter Parker walked in forty-five minutes late and sat next to me as if nothing happened. He just sat next to me and touched not on the matter like some schizophrenic psychopath. And still, we kept getting kicked, and punched, and pinched, and picked on. We kept getting happy slapped and happily slapped some more. And Peter just took it for the team like any other day. It was only when my head was shoved in the toilet for the very last time when I had an epiphany:


Why am I doing this?


I have average grades in an average school, getting my head shoved down a toilet in an average manor. This, I’ll mind you, is alongside my best friend who thinks he’s a spider. But in all of his superiority couldn’t fight off the force the bully constantly had us under. So then again lies the question: What am I doing with my life?


Life couldn’t continue on this path, so do you know what I did? I stopped talking to Pete, I applied to a college far far away from my estate, and I got talking to some brand new people, because never again would I have my life dictated by a big and dumb dumbo ever again  –  and even worse, a so-called ‘Spideyman’ that couldn’t even fight off the class bully.


I can’t believe I made myself best buddies with that guy.


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