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June 25, 2015

The Classic Feghoot

Friends and family have long known of my love for the much-malighed Feghoot.  What, pray tell, is a feghoot?  Wikipedia defines it, somewhat dryly, as :

A story pun (also known as a poetic story joke or Feghoot) is a humorous short story or vignette ending in a pun (typically a play on a well-known phrase) where the story contains sufficient context to recognize the punning humor.

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Sometimes such stories are incorrectly referred to as  “Shaggy Dog Stories”, but those are an art-form unto themselves and are typically much longer.

I first became enamored of the Feghoot as a subscriber to the magazine “Fantasy and Science Fiction”.  They appeared as a series of short stories written by Reginald Bretnor, entitled “Through Time and Space with Ferdinand Feghoot”. Each story was only a few, short paragraphs long, and always ended in a terrible pun, wrought from a familiar cliché or catchphrase.

A cohort from my college days turned me on to this story, and it’s one of my favorites.

Orson Wells portrayed a spy, in the motion picture The Third Man. During World War II, the spy was a British agent known by the code name, Harry Lime.

Harry was very near-sighted and wore thick glasses. His assignment behind enemy lines, disguised, as a German Officer would have been impossible, except that the Americans had invented a new form of lens for the myopic. These contact lenses were undergoing clinical trials at the Walter Reed Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Arrangements were made to transport Harry secretly to Bethesda by submarine to be fitted by the lens crafters.

Harry, among other things, was rumored to have had several dalliances, including an old flame who lived in nearby Washington DC. The authorities were afraid that Harry would use this opportunity in America to take an unauthorized vacation.

They decided that they must make his instructions very explicit. Therefore, just before leaving for the ship, he was called to the control office where he was given this direct order,

“YOU ARE TO GO DIRECTLY FROM THE SUB, LIME, TO THE REED OCULIST.”

bored monkey rimshot animation

Remember your wait-staff; try the veal.

 

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