In Jon Adams’s drawing, a bearded man with long white hair is standing barefoot in the doorway of a small house in the woods and saying something to a disgruntled woman who’s walking away with a duffle bag. He looks reluctant to move beyond the doorway, and his left arm is extended back into the house as if he’s holding on to or chained to something that allows him to lean only so far outside the doorway.
What is the relationship between these two people? He looks older than she is, so he could be her father. Or maybe, despite the age difference, they’re a couple. What’s clear is that the woman’s had enough and is leaving.
But why are they in a little house in the woods? Is the man supposed to be another Ted Kaczynski, the math professor who moved to a remote cabin and lived as a recluse until he became the Unabomber?
So many questions, and I don’t know that any will lead to a decent caption.
Maybe the woman’s leaving because the man will not shut up about the beauty of living simply in nature: “Come back. I’ll stop quoting Thoreau.”
Maybe the woman became disillusioned with the man, whom she started dating when he was her college professor: “You thought my rejection of society was romantic when you were my student.”
Maybe the woman really did chain the barefoot man to a fixture in the house: “Just leave me some shoes and the key to the handcuffs.”
Or maybe the man really is the Unabomber: “If you leave I’ll kill myself….Or maybe I’ll kill other people as part of a domestic terrorist campaign to highlight the erosion of individual freedoms and the threat of modern technologies.” Too soon? Or maybe just too long? Short captions are usually better, but I’ll defend the length of this one on the grounds that the Unabomber was verbose—his manifesto was 35,000 words—and I’m trying to capture the way he talked.
Now let’s see how you did:
Here’s the best quarantine joke: “City folk don’t have toilet paper, either.”
Here are the best scatological entries:
- “What if I gave up the cabbage and beans?”
- “Okay, no more beans.”
And here are the best Unabomber jokes, all five of which are much shorter than mine:
- “Wait, can you drop off a package for me?”
- “Would you mind mailing something for me?”
- “I can’t finish the manifesto without you!”
- “Is this about my manifesto?”
- “But who will carry on the Kaczynski name?”
I like the way this next entry, which may also be a reference to the Unabomber, plays on a common question asked by men who are left behind: “Was it something I rambled about incoherently?”
Here’s a sex joke—“Wait! Not the only thing that’s tiny—what do you mean?”—that would be better if it were rearranged to read as follows: “Wait! What do you mean by, ‘Not the only thing that’s tiny?’” Remember to always end your caption with the word that serves as the punch line, and in this caption the punch line is definitely “tiny.”
I really like this entry—“Sorry that you came all this way, but I didn’t order a pizza”—but it works only if the woman’s carrying one of those insulated pizza delivery bags and not, as I think it is, an ordinary duffle bag.
In this next caption the woman is not just leaving but escaping: “Don’t forget to write to your dear old captor.” I like to imagine that she has flipped the tables on her captor and chained him to a fixture in the house, in part because that would support my assumption that the man is handcuffed by his left arm to something behind the doorway.
This entry is unique because it assumes that the woman has decided to leave before even stepping foot inside the tiny house: “At least look inside first.”
Here’s another unique entry, one which presumes that the woman was ordered to leave: “Too much chatter, lady.”
Each of the next five entries identifies a different reason why the woman got fed up and left:
- “Okay. You don’t have to remove your shoes!”
- “Come on. My parents are only staying for a week.”
- “Fine, I’ll keep the sink/shower/toilet seat down.”
- “If it means that much to you, I’m willing to downsize.”
- “Was it the small talk?”
Finally, here are six terrific captions that don’t fit neatly into any category:
- “You didn’t have to take all the furniture.”
- “I said it would be like a fairytale. I didn’t say which one.”
- “I suppose you’ll tell your mother she was right.”
- “But I put in a window for you.”
- “It was your idea to downsize!”
- “At least take your mother with you.”
This week’s winner, which alludes to the size of the house in a really clever way, is, “You didn’t have to take all the furniture.”