Everett Glenn’s cartoon is set in a café, where a cat is sitting across a table from a man who actually looks a lot like Glenn, or at least the way Glenn draws himself in his comics. The man is looking at his phone.
Above the cat’s head is what Mort Walker, who created “Beetle Bailey,” identified in The Lexicon of Comicana as a “spurl,” a cartoon symbol meant to indicate mild irritation or frustration. But that’s nothing compared to the explosion of symbols above the man’s head, all of which indicate that he’s shocked and confused by what he sees on his phone’s screen: a woman underneath a heart symbol.
The cat is addressing the man.
I first suggested that the man is shocked because he went to the café expecting to meet the woman whose picture appears on his phone. The cat posted this picture on a dating site, and the cat is insulted by the man’s reaction to this revelation:
- “You don’t look like your picture, either.”
- “Oh, come on, no one posts real pictures of themselves on those sites.”
- “I said I was a cat person.”
- “Is it because I’m a cat?”
- “Not a cat lover?”
That last caption may be a little too close to a bestiality joke.
I then combined references to both misleading profile pictures and the Texas lawyer who recently appeared at a Zoom hearing looking like a cat:
- “I get more dates when I use a filter.”
- “I used a filter.”
Next, I suggested the man suffers from low self-esteem: “You’re shocked that a woman likes you, but unfazed by a talking cat.”
Because the man’s beard is a little wispy (nothing personal, Mr. Glenn), I thought the cat might be criticizing it.
- “My facial hair looks good. Yours does not.”
- “My face is meant to be covered in hair. Yours apparently isn’t.”
Those captions, which fail to address the setting or the cat’s ability to speak or the man’s strong reaction to the picture on his phone, ignore the rule about addressing every important aspect of the cartoon. Still, I like them.
Now let’s see how you did:
Most of you suggested that the man had been deceived by the cat, who posted misleading information about herself on a dating site:
- “OK, so I lied on my profile.”
- “I may have also lied about my age.”
- “Like you’re really a screenwriter.”
- “I did describe myself as well-groomed.”
- “My profile did say I was a cat person.”
- “Well, your photo was pretty misleading, too.”
- “You look nothing like your picture.”
- “I used a photo filter.”
- “You sleep all day, hardly bathe, and eat from a can. I’m your soulmate.”
This is the best of the entries suggesting that the cat is helping the man choose a date: “If she has a dog, swipe left.”
This entry underscores the cat’s disappointment in the man’s reaction: “I can see you’re a dog person.”
And this is the week’s most vulgar but still somewhat clever entry: “That dating app takes very literally what you say you’re looking for.”
Like I did, many of you focused on the man’s appearance (especially his hairstyle):
- “Might I suggest some grooming tips?”
- “Let’s cut to the chase: Is that thing on your head seeing anyone?”
- “Is that my cousin on your head?”
- “Your hair looks like my mom.”
- “I’ve coughed up hair more stylish than yours.”
The hair captions all made me laugh but they don’t address the man’s shocked reaction, so this week’s winner is, “My profile did say I was a cat person.”
Lawrence Wood has won The New Yorker’s Cartoon Caption Contest a record-setting seven times and been a finalist four other times. He has collaborated with New Yorker cartoonists Peter Kuper, Lila Ash, Felipe Galindo Gomez, and Harry Bliss (until Bliss tossed him aside, as anyone would, to collaborate with Steve Martin). Nine of his collaborations have appeared in The New Yorker, and one is included in The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.