The Love Song of J. Jonah Jameson

The Love Song of J. Jonah Jameson

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

That’s from a poem. It’s called “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot. A very smart man told me once that poetry was a fail-safe way to get a woman to fall in love with me. Now, granted, he did go crazy and try to take down the city with a set of mechanical octopus arms, but I do think he was on to something with this. I wish this were just a love letter. But I have a lot I want to tell you, and I’m afraid some of it may be hard to hear.

First things first. I, Peter Parker, am Spider-Man.

Huh. That didn’t feel as cool as it looked when Tony Stark did it. “I am Spider-Man.” Looking at it in my own handwriting. It’s not even ten letters. “Spider-Man.” It looks goofy. “Spider-Man.” What a stupid name. Anyway, it would be amazing if this were all I had to say to you. Why yes, I am that dashing figure that slings across the New York skyline, righting wrongs and upholding justice. But there’s more. More than a radioactive spider bite can explain away.

I will wake up one morning soon… maybe tomorrow even… and everything will be different. And not like every day is supposed to be different. I mean, like… this will still be the planet Earth. I will live in New York City. I will be gifted at science. My parents will have died when I was a child. And my name will be Peter Parker. And I will think you’re the most beautiful girl in the entire universe.

I hope I’m not freaking you out so far. If You’ve noticed all the weird stuff going on, You’ve never mentioned it to me, so I am plunging ahead as if You haven’t noticed. You… I keep waking up in a different bed. In a different room. In a different body. Sometimes I have glasses and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m a little taller or a little shorter or a little skinnier…. But I know I’m still Peter Parker. When I wake up, Aunt May is downstairs and making breakfast. Uncle Ben is still alive. By the time I head to school, everything seems normal. It seems to be happening more often lately, though, and I think that’s why the awareness is lingering.

I’ve been reading a lot about multiverse theory. The idea that there exists a set of infinite universes parallel to our own, and that a seemingly insignificant occurrence in one of those universes can make everything different going forward. The butterfly effect, you know. But then why would I be actively experiencing each of these universes but only ever for a finite but inconsistent length of time? It’s not that I’m meeting these alternate Peter Parkers. I am waking up as them. As me. I’m sure I’ve graduated high school and college dozens of times at this point. I’ve even been married. And please don’t freak out, but I think it was to you. I’ve died before. Those aren’t even the scariest universes. This one time I kept breaking my limbs over and over, and couldn’t get U2 songs out of my head. What does U2 have to do with Spider-man?

Anyway, related to multiverse theory, there’s something known as quantum mass-suicide sorting, which can then be expanded to quantum mass-suicide everything. Essentially, the only universes that survive are the ones where things turn out all right. Only the universes in which I am happy. Wouldn’t that be something? Maybe I don’t really know what happiness is. This is perhaps another reason I’ve turned to poetry suddenly.

Maybe I’m supposed to find all of this comforting. Always getting another chance, after all. But I feel completely devoid of agency. What’s the point in bettering myself at all when the universe can decide for itself whether I’m still worthy enough to keep on being me? Do I ever get a say in the evolution of Peter Parker? I’d like to think that, as Peter Parker, I’d be worth consulting over such matters. And as for Spider-man… I can do these amazing things and I can help people and that’s wonderful, but these powers are not mine.

Power.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” I don’t think that Uncle Ben could have counted on this weird immortality when he used to tell me that. Oh, sure, he’d find a way to make it work. After all, what could be more responsible than evolving with the ages? With being all things to all people across time. One, two, three, four, five, going into my sixth decade of being fifteen. Uncle Ben always upheld his responsibilities, sure, but he had the privilege of growing old and growing beyond acne and gym class permanently. Oh, and spending his life with the person he loved the most. He would be disappointed in me, talking like this. I’m just jealous. Of time unbroken.

“And indeed there will be time.” That’s T.S. Eliot again. Gwen… Mary Jane… we have a lot of time left together. Whatever changes about this next incarnation of my life as Peter Parker, I know one or both of you will be there. And more so than being an orphan or a science nerd or even a web slinger in tights, my love for you is what will define me. Because you… both of you are kind and smart and beautiful. And no matter what I do, whom I save or whom I defeat, I do not deserve you. Whoever is in charge of my multiple fates reminds me of this often.

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

Do I dare? The decisions and the revisions aren’t up to me. I will keep doing what they want. I will try harder every single time to be exactly who they want me to be. And then maybe they will let You stay.

So, no, I guess. I don’t dare disturb this universe. I can only find comfort in the few things I know to be constant. My name is Peter Parker. And no matter how much it might make me afraid or guilty or angry or hurt… I love you. Across time and alternate universes and even death. If I wake up tomorrow and everything has changed again, well, one day I will get to see the sunlight bouncing off of your hair for the first time again.

Dani will be performing a piece based on The Black Cauldron Wednesday, September 25th at Scene Missing (The Show). “The Love Song of J. Jonah Jameson” was originally written and performed for Spoiler Alert: A Cosplay-Themed Reading.

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