It was the "thwip" that did it.

"Thwip" can be found in just one spot in the universe: the pages of a Spider-Man comic book. That's the sound made when the hero uses his trusty web shooters to swing into action and save the day.

It had been a long time since I'd seen that "thwip." Like many boys, I read plenty of Spider-Man comic books. I loved it when he would swoop down and carry people away from the clutches of "Doc Ock" or a speeding truck.

But as a teenager I abandoned Spider-Man for other heroes: Sherlock Holmes. D'Artagnan. Odysseus. And, as time passed, other pursuits such as college and career kept the wall-crawling hero and his adventures out of my life.

Until I walked into Barnes & Noble in July. There on display was a 1,000-page book of Spider-Man comics. I picked up the heavy volume and thumbed through it.

I saw "thwip" again -- and smiled.

But dare I buy it? I'm 31 now. I work on Capitol Hill and wear ties, not T-shirts. I had projects due and bills to pay. Shouldn't I buy something serious? A book on George Bush or John Kerry? A retired politician's memoir? Something about terrorism?

Nah. I moved toward the register.

Spider-Man had saved the day once more.

Andrew Blasko, Arlington

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