> according to M-W, a shaggy-dog story is ""a long-drawn-out circumstantial story concerning an inconsequential happening that impresses the teller as humorous but the hearer as boring and pointless; also: a similar humorous story whose humor lies in the pointlessness or irrelevance of the punch line"

Technically quite correct, of course, but incomplete, I feel. Bennett Cerf (my personal hero) published a great many shaggy dog stories (his words) in Bennett Cerf's Bumper Crop, published of course, by Random, his very own publishing company. He included the types of stories that Jackie and I related above as shaggy dog stories. By the way, do you know why it was called Random House? Because they would decide what to publish by plucking manuscripts at random from the slush pile of submitted mss.

Anyway, your story of the Irishman reminds me that few people (other than myself of course) know what happened to the poor fellow. On a trip to the interior regions of South America, he was captured by a tribe of fierce cannibals. They did not, though, immediately immerse him up to his neck in boiling water. Instead, they kept him penned up, and on the night of the full moon they would nick a vein in his arm and drink of his rich Hibernian blood. Patty tired of this after several months, and on the night of the next full moon he roared at them, "Kill me and eat me if you will, but you've gotta stop sticking me for the drinks."

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TEd