Chick Wit: 'Embarrass' requires no captioning

Posted: August 07, 2011

You may not know that you can see a movie in closed-captioning, but I do, and it's all because of Mother Mary.

That it was the wrong movie to see in closed-captioning is entirely my fault.

We begin when I realize that she's getting bored. To be honest, I don't realize it at all, until she tells me so, one day.

"I'm bored," she says.

This happens to be a pet peeve of mine, as I believe people have an obligation to busy their own minds, and whenever anybody says "I'm bored," I always think:

Read a book.

Sing a song.

Go to the movies.

But I love my mother, and she has a good excuse for being bored, at 87. She can't read because of her eyes, and she can't sing because of her throat. That leaves one thing. "Wanna go to the movies?" I ask her.

"Yes," she says.

I blink, surprised. "Yes? But you always say no."

"I know, but I heard from Cousin Nana that you wrote about it. So now I'm saying yes, for spite."

I take her to Crazy, Stupid, Love because she thinks Steve Carrell is cute, and she has a blast. She smiles the whole time, rapt, at the screen, her hands held curiously in front of her, in a happy little ball. Her tiny white head is the brightest spot in the theater, and her feet don't touch the floor.

But she's the only one laughing at the wrong times.

I look over, puzzled. She has both of her hearing aids in, but she still can't hear. When we leave, I say, "Did you have fun?"

"I loved it! Let's go again."

"OK, maybe next weekend."

"Can't we go tomorrow night?" She turns to me, hopeful as a toddler in a gift shop, and I can deny her nothing when she looks at me that way, which is never.

"Of course."

"I want to see that movie in the preview, with Justin Timberlake. He's cute."

"You mean Friends With Benefits?"

"That's the one!"

I hesitate. I don't know if she knows what the phrase means. Someday I'll tell her the facts of life. Maybe when she's older. "Ma, do you know what that movie's about?"

"Of course, they're shacking up."

So there you have it.

I go online and notice that Friends With Benefits is playing the very next night, at 10 o'clock, in closed-captioning.

Dirty movies for the hearing-impaired.


So we find ourselves in the theater, with six other people, all young couples, sitting around us. They're not there for the closed-captioning; they're there to make out, and they dig in, even before the movie starts. And there we are, mother and daughter, at the center of their R-rated action, like the calm eye of a sex hurricane.

In other words, we're seeing Friends With Benefits with friends with benefits.

Mother Mary notices none of this. She awaits Justin Timberlake.

Actually, so do I.

The movie begins, and the captions come on, but they're not like closed-captioning on TV, which is small and at the bottom of the screen. They're mile-high letters that take up almost the entire screen and they're translucent, so you actually see through them to watch the movie.

I'm trying to get used to it when the PROFANITY begins, in HUGE LETTERS.

I can't print them herein, but this movie has at least 20 F-WORDS in the first five minutes, evidence of its screenwriters showing they're down with the demographic, except that the demographic is playing tongue hockey and the only people watching the movie are the post-menopausal.

And the post-post menopausal.

And just when I'm getting used to that, the sex scenes begin, and I get to read MY NIPPLES ARE SENSITIVE, complete with nipples.

With my mother.

But she watches the movie with the same smile as the night before, her hands clutched in the same little ball, and she sees plenty of Justin Timberlake, even his naked butt. The screen reads TOUCH MY ASS.

"Great movie!" she says, afterward.

"Did the captions help?"

"They were great!"

But she looks too happy to be talking about the captions.


Lisa Scottoline's novel "Save Me" is on sale now. Read Lisa's and Francesca Serritella's essays in "My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space" and "Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog." Visit Lisa at

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