Thursday, March 8, 2018

Scrod in Boston

I received the following email from Tim B, a Byter who resides in the US: 
Hi Otto,

Another taxi joke.

A very successful Los Angeles businessman had a hankering for Boston scrod. He booked the next flight to Boston and when he arrived he jumped into a taxi and told the driver, “Take me somewhere to get scrod”, to which the taxi driver exclaimed, “I’ve heard it said a lot of different ways, but never in the pluperfect subjunctive.

My brother is a lawyer and this is his favorite joke, so I thought you might enjoy it also.


PS: I don’t know if you have scrod in Australia, but it is a fish dish. 
Thanks Tim. 

  • Tim’s joke had me scratching my head. What was the humour and what was I missing? 
  • So I checked meanings and definitions: 
Scrod is any of various whitefish, typically filleted young cod or haddock, used as food.
Scrod is common in many coastal New England and Atlantic Canadian fish markets and restaurants.
The term has been credited to chefs at Boston’s Parker House Hotel, the originator of Boston cream pie and Parker House rolls.
(of a tense) denoting an action completed prior to some past point of time specified or implied, formed in English by had and the past participle, as in “he had gone by then”.
The subjunctive in English is used to form sentences that do not describe known objective facts. These include statements about one's state of mind, such as opinion, belief, purpose, intention, or desire. The subjunctive mood, such as “She suggests that he speak English”, contrasts with the indicative mood, which is used for statements of fact, such as “He speaks English”.

  • Okay, that didn’t help me much, apart from the humour in the taxi driver being so well educated that we don’t even know what he is talking about, a funny surprise. 
  • I then sourced the font of all knowledge and wisdom, the internet, and found the following: 
There are many versions of the joke; here's how I tell it:

A traveller who is a huge fan of seafood arrives in Boston for the first time. He leaves the airport and hails a cab. After he gets in, he excitedly says to the cabbie, "Hey, I'm new in town. Can you tell me a good place to go to get scrod?" The cabbie replies [in a thick Boston accent], "Pal, I've got to congratulate you. I've heard that question a lot over the years, but that's the first time I've ever heard it in the pluperfect subjunctive."

(You have to do the cabbie in a Boston accent—it makes years, first, and heard funnier.) 
  • Another version has the questioner as an English visitor and the question as: "If one were to want to get scrod around here, where might one go?" 
  • From reading the discussions on those sites it is clear that the humour is in the word “scrod” sounding like “screwed”, especially in a Bostonian accent. 
  • Now try reading them again with that spin on it. 

Some more geek jokes (posted in past years in Bytes) . . .

Charles Dickens walks into a bar and orders a martini. 
The bartender asks, “Olive or Twist?” 

A centurion walks into a bar and asks for a martinus. 
The barman says, "Don't you mean a martini?" 
The centurion responds, "No, if I wanted a double, I’d have asked for one!" 

A Roman walks into a bar, holds up two fingers and says “Five beers please.”

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