Monday, December 8, 2008

captivating captions

My interest was piqued a couple of weeks ago by the above cartoon, because a caption flew into my head when I saw it:
But I thought you always wanted a lot of kids.

Since then, I turn to to the back of each new issue of the New Yorker so I can see who won the weekly cartoon caption contest. In fact, I've started to spend way too much time trying to think up pithy, biting captions. Some people have crossword puzzles or that sudoku math thingy, but this is a lot more fun. It's also way harder.

Who would have known the contest has its own obsessive subculture? Here's an essay in Slate about how to enter and win. Each week something like 6,000 people submit captions. Some really lucky (or long-suffering, depending on your point of view) staffer's sole job is to pluck out 50 from that brier patch, which are then weeded down to three finalists by a Wise, Knowing Editor. The public/readers are invited to vote on the winner.

I didn't send it in the goat cartoon caption because it was too late. So I just decided to wait until the next week's cartoon, not knowing that the chance of an ideal caption popping in your head is a rare, joyful occurrence. Like falling in love. Or having your book optioned for film. Or finally voting for a guy who actually wins the White House. So. Here is the actual caption winner and two finalists for that cartoon:

First Place

"Come sweater season, you'll be back."

Second Place

"Could you bring me back a goat?"

Third Place

"You're the one who left your fertility drugs on the counter."

A couple of weeks ago, this cartoon appeared, and my caption--that I actually submitted-- was: It's our new line of free-range breasts and thighs.
I'm sure I was overly fond of the "line" pun--as in dance/ chorus line... But it didn't make it out of the thousands of other brilliant witticisms. I have to admit the three finalists have been blessed by the caption fairy. My favorite: I'd suggest you keep them away from the gingerbread men.

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