Many of us may dream of being a hero, in the words of singer David Bowie, "just for one day." Former Sandusky resident Jerry Wible got to live that dream by portraying Spider-Man at a Wal-Mart just outside of Atlanta.
"I spent a little bit of time upside down or hanging sideways on a counter, and a great deal of time crouching, which my legs punished me for the next day," Wible said via e-mail.
The five-hour experience on March 24 was part of a nationwide promotion for "Spider-Man 3," which is being released in theaters Friday.
Some of the youngsters requested "Spidey" walk on the walls or shoot some of his webbing from his wrists. Wible declined, telling them "webbing and footprints are tough to clean off walls."
The actor estimated he saw "a couple of hundred kids," from infants to teenagers. He posed for about 500 pictures, some of them with adults.
"Most of the kids would get really wide eyed, breathe in deeply and do a quick turn to their parents to check and make sure they're not seeing things," Wible recalled.
"I should mention that little ones aren't the only ones who were hesitant of Spider-Man. I saw a few linebacker-sized guys who were wary as well," the actor said.
Wible saw customers who appeared to be in a rush trip because they were watching him. Some people gasped, laughed or even stared.
There were a few children who were skeptical about "Spider-Man," which Wible said he expected. Two boys who appeared a few hours apart noticed the actor's costume was in good condition, despite the film version being ripped in the fight with the Green Goblin.
Wible, just like a fast-thinking super hero, was ready with a response.
"I showed them this one stray thread sticking out of my elbow and told them that's where I had to sew up the suit," he said. "It's funny how they don't question Spider-Man's authenticity after seeing where he had to sew up a battle wound in the suit."
Marvel Appearances gave Wible, who lives in Atlanta, very specific instructions on what to do while wearing the custom outift ("Walk, talk and act just like Spider-Man"). The 26-year-old actor also was told "always have something to say that won't give away a secret identity."
There were also some no-nos, such as "Don't act like it's a job" and don't smoke, drink or eat in costume.
"These guys have been doing it for years, so they knew some of the things that you wouldn't expect would happen to be prepared for," Wible said, for example: "Be ready to be hit on by moms in front of their kids."
The actor said he had fun with "many of the ladies (who) wanted a picture with Spider-Man in all his spandex glory."
"I had to tell more than one that Mary Jane would get jealous if they kept it up," he added.
Mary Jane Watson is the lifelong love interest of Spider-Man's secret identity, Peter Parker. Watson and Parker eventually got married in the comic books.
Wible enjoyed the adults' reactions, especially if they saw him before their children did.
"Some parents would stop whatever they were doing and just watch their kids' expression to catch that moment when the kid would recognize Spider-Man was nearby," he said, calling those "priceless moments."
Putting on the suit gave Wible a sense of hope, which he saw on the children's faces.
"You could tell that some of the kids I saw don't live easy lives," the actor explained. "You just want to tell each and every one of them that everything is going to be alright (and) that if they're good to each other and listen to their parents, they can be heroes too."
"All those kids, even the frightened ones, love Spider-Man. The way they look at their hero gives you a better feeling than being Santa Claus," Wible said.