This week we have a cartoon by Charlie Hankin. A realtor is showing a cave to a couple who are presumably in the market for a new home, there’s a “for sale” sign in front of the cave, the realtor is addressing the couple (and therefore delivering the line that will serve as your caption), and everyone is upset. The greatest challenge, I think, is coming up with a caption that not only addresses both real estate and caves but is consistent with the characters’ angry expressions.
I first imagined that the realtor offended the couple by saying, “It’s in your price range,” thereby implying that they can’t afford anything nicer than a hole in the wall. Or maybe the realtor is disputing that characterization: “It is not a hole in the wall.”
Maybe the realtor, offended by the couple’s negative reaction, is defensively highlighting the property’s best qualities:
- “It’s prewar.”
- “Most homeowners like thick walls.”
- “Most people like brownstones.”
- “You don’t like original details?”
- “You don’t like open concept?”
- “It has a lot of potential.”
- “It’s a fixer-upper.”
- “It’s not a fire pit. It’s radiant floor heating.”
- “What do you mean ‘dark?’ The northern exposure provides soft light all day.”
- “What are you talking about, ‘dark?’ The afternoon sun floods it with golden overtones.”
Maybe the prospective buyers are upset that the walls are covered with cave paintings, and the realtor is impatiently telling them, “You can paint over the drawings.”
Now let’s see how you all did…
A significant number of your nearly 3,000 entries were premised on the idea that the cave was home to a bear (an idea that should have but did not occur to me). The best of these included:
- “The current tenant should be out by spring.”
- “The sellers want to sleep on your offer – until spring.”
- “The previous owner just used it as his winter home.”
- “We may need to sweeten the offer. Did you bring any honey?”
- “The neighbors are quiet and keep to themselves in the winter.”
Those captions, however, have one significant problem: they do not account for everyone’s angry expressions.
Like I did, a few of you tried to address these expressions by having the realtor offensively imply that the buyers cannot afford anything better than a cave. The best such caption was: “You said you were on a budget.”
Many of you had the realtor highlighting the cave’s best qualities, especially the granite:
- “Granite counter tops…and floors…and walls…and ceilings.”
- “Granite countertops and, well, everything else, too.”
- “Wait until you see all the granite.”
- “Granite throughout.”
Out of these four entries I prefer the last one because it’s the shortest, but like the “bear” captions it does not explain why the realtor and buyers look upset.
Here are a few captions that focused on the cave’s other positive features:
- “Everything is original.”
- “It’s a brownstone.”
- “You said you wanted a brownstone.”
- “You wanted open-concept.”
The last two are best because they account for the angry expressions by implying that the buyers expressed their dissatisfaction with the cave and the realtor responded defensively. (The last caption loses points only because “open concept” does not have a hyphen. Sorry, but this contest was modeled on one from The New Yorker, where such small mistakes matter.)
A few of you had the realtor highlighting the cave’s potential as a sound investment—e.g., “This place could be a real gold mine.” That’s good, especially because the entrance to the cave looks like the entrance to a mine, but, again, I don’t think the caption fits the characters’ expressions.
I really liked “The owners want us to take our shoes off”—I love the idea of a fastidious cave-dweller—and “You can take a look yourselves. I’ll wait out here.” Both captions make sense of the drawing and the characters’ expressions.
A few entries referenced cave-paintings, but only one was consistent with the angry expressions: “The original art stays.”
Here are two more fine captions that I would like even more if they explained why the characters look so mad: “It’s been on the market forever,” and “The seller is caving.”
As I said at the beginning, the real challenge in this contest was coming up with a caption that addressed not just the cave and real estate, but the characters’ expressions. The difficulty of meeting this challenge undermined some otherwise fine captions, but still left us with a few strong contenders. My choice for the best is, “You said you wanted a brownstone.”