I'm hanging upside-down from the ceiling in my therapist's office, because when I was six I had a recurring fantasy about what would happen if gravity switched and we all had to live on our ceilings. Naturally, I refused to leave the house that summer for fear of falling into the sky.
"Mr. Parker," says my therapist, "I don't think we're going to make much headway if you continue to answer with non-sequiturs."
"Knish," I say back, but my heart's not in it. Dr. Goldstein's office has a hot dog vendor outside, and it's nearly lunchtime, so it's mostly my stomach talking. That, and the esophagus. The mouth, too, but then the mouth is always talking anyway. I have verbal diarrhea.
I get around that by having extensive internal monologues while brooding upside-down.
"Let's talk about your Aunt May," Dr. Goldstein tries.
"Oy! What is it with the always coming back to Aunt May? You're such a nudnik. Why all the tsuris about Aunt May? She's a nice old lady. Even if she is a pain in my tuchis about me settling down with Mary Jane. 'Why should you make trouble for yourself,' she says. 'Her name is slang for marijuana,' she says. 'Why chase after that shiksa, when you could be dating that nice Kitty Pryde,' she says. 'Ma,' I says to her, 'Kitty grew up in Dearborn, Michigan. She'd be a Tigers fan. I watch the Yankees. Ma, it'd be a mixed marriage.' "
"You do realize that you just called your Aunt May 'Ma'?" Through the open window, I can smell the knishes burning downstairs.
"So what?" I'm defensive now, and for a moment I wonder if Doc Goldstein has a set of mechanical arms in his closet. "She raised me since I was a child. She's like a mother to me."
"Have you ever heard of Oedipus, Mr. Parker?"
"Oedipus... wasn't he a Greek racecar driver? Got into a lot of wrecks?" I'm stalling for time now, hoping the session will end soon so that I can go out and buy one of those tasty slightly-burnt knishes. Unless it has tofu in it. I hate tofu knishes. I don't care if they are kosher, Moses would not be caught dead eating tofu.
"Let's cut to the chase, Mr. Parker. You started dressing as Spider-Man because you feel responsible for the death of your Uncle Ben. With him gone, your Aunt May -- your surrogate mother-figure -- is lonely, so you set yourself up as his replacement. Why else would you cover yourself head-to-toe in spandex? Even Daredevil has a cutout for his chin. No, you cover yourself so that nothing of yourself is given away, in the hopes that your Aunt will look at you and see her husband. And that, my friend, is Oedipal."
"Knish," I mutter again. I'm drooling slightly.
"And let's think about why you dress as a spider, Mr. Parker. Do you not see the Little Miss Moffett parallel? Your Aunt May: widowed, smaller than you. You: the spider that sat down beside her."
"What about the curds and whey?" I inquire, my hunger getting the best of me.
"Sometimes cottage cheese is just cottage cheese," the doctor explains, rising. "But sometimes a psychiatrist is The Chameleon."
Oy gevalt. That knish will have to wait.
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