hElTeR-sHeLtEr: Pandemic Pastimes #5: Coltish Captions

Play “Honey, I Mixed Up the Captions!” and Wait Until You See How Much Precious Weighs Now It’s Jaw-dropping


I TRUST IT WILL NOT BE A HUGE surprise to you if I confess that—and, I beg you, please, stand another six feet away from your priceless collection of Blue Mountain pottery, lest your startle reflex should cause you to knock over the display cabinet—I’m kind of lazy.

Yeah, majorly. We’re talking Governor General’s Award for Lazy, a Genie and a Gemini, a Lazy Webby, maybe even a Pulitzer (but not Lily). In fact, with my level of expertise, I can do diddley-squat all day with both ambitions tied behind my back and without even a statutory lunch break.

Which makes perfect sense seeing as diddley-squat all day is my statutory lunch break.

Yet once every decade or so, give or take, a morning dawns when I find myself inexplicably filled with pee, vee and spunk—should one of those guys from Leolist ever turn up, maybe even drenched in them— and ready to prove there’s a reason, even just a biological one, for me to exist.

On such an auspicious morning of robins and daffodils, I might awaken—or, “come to” as I like to characterize it—as I did this morning: still wearing yesterday’s clothes, a litre of Kawartha Dairy strawberry ice cream leaking into the pillows, butter tart crumbs clinging to the corners of my mouth, and with a scratchy, oily sensation in my lower back which I at first assumed was an outbreak of atopic dermatitis, but turned out to be a grilled cheese sandwich that I made around 4 AM then didn’t eat because I dozed off. (“Dinner.”)

Never mind—it’s a new morning! The sun turns its hot, shining face to me like a woman in the desperate throes of menopause, my heart sings an entire Handel opera, including the soprano and counter-tenor roles, all the repeats in the da capo arias and a couple of encores; and I even manage to find a sock; only the one, please note, and why it’s dangling from a denuded branch of the Christmas tree I leave up all year so it’s ready, I really couldn’t say.

Betimes, as I sip my coffee and reminisce about those adventure vacations in the rain forests of Gstaad, it may transpire that I get ambitious and think of posting a new piece here on my blog, the entity I spend most time with, which is why I think of it as my bitch-mistress—(bastard-master?)—of six years.

But before I can close the curtains, after briefly opening them to check whether it’s really daytime or if, in fact, I’ve only been unconscious for five minutes; rev up the Bodum and commit to yet another three thousand words of idiosyncratic, bolshie, left-wing political commentary, or snarky take-down of some Hollywood star now familiar only to myself and a few geriatric cases receiving end-of-life care—my Buddhist training kicks in.

Enlightenment cracks open my skull with its unshod hoof, and I think: “Fuck it. Fob them off with the captions thingy.”

Whoah! Thanks, Enlightenment! That was close!

Here, then, is “Honey, I Mixed Up the Captions!” an almost offensively puerile game I devised for myself way back when I was desperate to avoid any practical activity, for example, leaving the apartment to earn money, and around the time I was starting to admit that just staring slack-jawed into space while chain-smoking was not quite fulfilling its promise as a life strategy the way I had anticipated.

At the very least, I hope this brainless diversion will see you through yet another twenty-four hours of coronavirus lockdown; or, as the Canadian media, the Prime Minister and our Chief Public Health Officer gently explain, “The way your remaining allotted days are always going to be from now on until you die of sorrow.”

Playing this game is simple. Find one of those sites that purveys gossip, or aggregates weird stories, the kind of site where the headline is something like “Twenty Most Awful Lands That You Should Never Travel To Number Six Will Make You Gasp;” and underneath are linked images, as though for related, “you might also like…” articles, one of which is always about Princess Diana and/or her wedding dress— but these are not, in fact, articles.

These, like the Twenty Most Awful Lands, are “sponsored,” meaning they are only there to stay out of the rain and sell you stuff, i.e., clickbait. And because you have the attention span of boiled rigatoni, you start engaging with the clickbait.

And now you find yourself transported to a magical dream world that out-nevers the most pixie-dusted, Tinkerbell’d Neverland that Disney’s fevered imagination could conjure up.

Here is an alternative universe where Susan Boyle’s new career as stick-thin, platinum blond porn princess is not only the next, eagerly anticipated step along her life’s path, but its most happy culmination; you are newly fascinated by the tacky marital dramas of long-forgotten soap opera stars the way Madame Curie was once fascinated by isotopes; and all of your internal organs have turned into a southern-style Bar-B-Q of pre-cancerous tissue for the parasites harbored by ten foods you must stop eating right away THEY ARE KILLING YOU.

Now the game potential reveals itself, for as you examine the images and captions more closely—eureka! By the simple exercise of switching the captions around, you are crying hot salty tears of hysterical laughter, because, seriously. Right? It’s like shooting whales in a bidet.

I want to make this more challenging (I’m so very much all about respecting your intelligence), but because I am a late-stage boomer who caught the tail end of the Summer of Love—which means whenever I see a Young Person wearing bell bottoms, a paisley shirt from GAP and a tie-dye headband, I hear my mother shrieking “Roll up the windows!” then briefly pass out—I rebel against rules, albeit in a helpful, fawning way. So I suggest the following parameters:

  1. Use the images and captions from that one page only;
  2. Don’t use any image or caption more than once.
  3. Extra brownie points for the most salacious and/or sophomoric laughs you can provoke.

But you don’t have to use up all of the pictures and captions on the page—it doesn’t matter if you have some orphans left over. It doesn’t have to work out exactly, like, it’s not chess or a Rubik’s cube or something.

Jeezus! Who are you, the caption game rules-Nazi? Lighten up, Mistress Suck-Out-All-The-Fun!

Here are my results for today. Enjoy.

If that’s—even a word.

“Honey, I Mixed Up the Captions!”


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