When my editor asked me to write this story, at first I thought she was joking. If only. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday, but really it was this time last week:
“Remember that part in Shrek where he eats spiderwebs instead of cotton candy?!,” she chortled in the middle of a meeting about something else entirely.
“Well, yeah I kinda do,” I said apprehensively, knowing that my internship hinged on keeping this unhinged woman happy.
“Oh man, that was the best. And your generation is super into Shrek, right?” she asked.
“Uh, well, I guess so,” I stuttered.
“Oh! You know what would be an awesome piece? ‘I ate nothing but spiderwebs for a week!'” she exclaimed, “Like on Vice! I’d click that!”
I tried to hide my horror and nodded.
“I know! You should write it!”
At first I thought she was messing with me, but her earnest stare pierced through the awkward silence of the conference room, and I was overcome by a horrifying revelation: If I didn’t eat spiderwebs, I’d almost certainly lose my unpaid internship here and I’d never get to be a writer anywhere ever again.
So, I did the only thing I could do: I said yes.
“Great!” my editor exclaimed, “Let me go fish down that cobweb in my office and we can get started!”
Well, I suppose you could say the first day started right then and there in my cubicle. My editor poked at the pesky cobweb in the corner of her office with a broom stick, and scuttled her way toward me, broom fully extended like a knight jousting.
“Ewwwwwww!” she yelled as she walked through the cubicle maze to my desk. People from all around the office stood up at their cubes to witness the commotion, murmuring confusedly to each other.
The next thing I knew, there was a spiderweb dangling inches from my face. A crowd had gathered and between their stares and the crazed look in my editor’s eyes I knew I had no choice.
The crowd was chanting, “Eat it! Eat it! Eat it!”. A few were trying to be clever and sing the Weird Al song of the same name. But all I could hear was my own heart beating in my ears.
“Do it!” my editor prodded, “Pretend it’s cotton candy!”
I gently grasped the spiderweb from the end of the broomstick and inched it toward my face. The strings stuck to my chin and nose, but most of the web entered my mouth. I tried to chew, but it mainly just dissolved into sticky nothingness – much to the delight of my jeering coworkers who cheered like they’d seen the game winning play at a sporting event.
The elated crowd eventually dissipated, and my editor patted me on the back and said, “There, that wasn’t so bad was it?!”
I showed up to the office the next day feeling quite embarrassed. People whispered and giggled as I walked to my desk.
Taped to my computer monitor was printout of a 60’s Spiderman meme.
I tore down and crumpled up the paper, only to notice a small shoebox on my desk that I’d never seen before. It was blank expect for the word “lunch” scribbled on the top in sharpie. I reluctantly opened it, and to my horror it was filled to the brim with densely packed spiderwebs, teeming with squiggling spiders trying to escape.
I inadvertently let out a scream, and this is when my editor walked by.
“Oh hey! I see you got your lunch for today!” she said, smiling. She kept walking, laughing to herself.
Later that day, we had our weekly staff meeting which is normally held over lunch from my favorite sandwich place.
I reached for sandwich and suddenly felt a hand on my wrist.
“What do you think you’re doing?” my editor said, “I already packed your lunch!”
She handed me the box of spiderwebs and a spoon, and proceeded to watch me eat it in front of the entire office. I struggled to hold back tears as each sticky strand stuck to my face, collecting like slimecoated hairballs in the back of my throat. I could hardly breathe. I felt spiders crawling on my tongue and lips trying to escape their awful fate, but to no avail.
After the box was empty and the laughter died down, the meeting continued as scheduled.
The next day I came to work a broken man. People who were laughing at me yesterday now looked at me with a terror they would normally reserve for a serial killer or a deranged homeless man. Most averted their eyes.
I managed to go the entire day without eating anything, and snuck out the back door at the end of the day to avoid my webbed fate.
I made it home and finally relaxed. I decided that I deserved some real food. Fuck this assignment. I ordered a pizza. I put on Netflix and chilled until the pizza arrived.
When the delivery guy came to the door, he gave me my pizza box but seemed like he was holding back laughter.
I looked down at my pants to see if I was wearing any – which had been an issue before – but I was indeed fully clothed.
I tipped him and took the pizza inside, but noticed that the box was suspiciously light.
Just then a spider scuttled out of the box. I dropped it, and when I did I saw that it was jam packed with spider webs!
I tried to just go on with my day as normal, but every restaurant in the entire city had a picture of me and was told not to serve me anything but spider webs.
At work, they set up a cotton candy machine that they used to make giant spider web balls for me to eat. They even put them on cupcakes and made a whole Halloween themed spread. They laughed maniacally as I ate it.
So. Hungry. Spies. Everywhere. Can’t. Eat. Food. Just. Spider. Webs.
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“You did it!” she happily exclaimed after I slurped up the last of the spiderwebs on my desk, “How do you feel?!”
“Honestly? I feel like I want to die,” I groaned weakly, “I hate you, and I should never have taken this stupid internship.”
She cackled with delight, “Save it for the article, bud! It’s gonna be great!”