Colorful phrases are worth their weight in gold

There is a lady I work with at school who is fantastic at including the most colorful phrases in her stories. I mean picturesque in a quaint way. She was telling about a person she knew many years ago who was a taker. You know the kind of people who take and take and take but never give back? She said “That lady would ride a free horse to death.”

photo “Race Horse on Gallops” by Paul. Labeled for reuse

I literally almost fell off my chair laughing. (That wasn’t hard to do, I was sitting in a minuscule kindergarten chair). I loved that phrase so much I committed it to memory. I take it out of the memory box once in a while; while just to make myself laugh.

Today I looked up the phrase to see if it had an origin. It does. The phrase is actually “Never ride a free horse to death.” In this book published in 1922, “The Antiquity of Proverbs: Fifty Familiar Proverbs and Folk Sayings by By Dwight Edwards Marvin, it is explained,

“Never abuse privileges that have been granted as favors.”

“Though the date of this saying is unknown it was used before the sixteenth century. There never was a time when men have not been found who would not take advantage of the liberality of others and their acts have been freely expressed in proverbs.” Give them a pea,” as the Guernsey folk say, “and they will take a bean,” or “Invite them to your home for a while,” as the natives of India declare, “and they will take possession of the whole house.” A borrowed horse is to them a gift of service that may be used to the limit of the animal’s endurance, hence the warning that the beneficiary should not abuse a benefactor’s bounty. “If I have told right, thou hast given thyself above a thousand stripes; that is enough for one beating; for, to use a homely phrase, the ass will carry his load, but not a double load; ride not a free horse to death.” — Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, a.d. 1547-1616, Don Quixote.

So yesterday we were talking again and she described a woman she used to work with who laughed a lot, saying, “She laughed so hard she like to lay an egg.”

I fell over laughing again. Isn’t that description so colorful, and apt?? (Yes, women do cackle).

I haven’t been able to find an origin for that one. Maybe there isn’t, or it’s too obscure. It sure is funny though.

I appreciate the people I work with for the unique individuals they are. They’re intelligent, they’re story tellers, they’re caring. They make me laugh, they teach me things, they encourage me. As much as I enjoy summer for the privacy, I will miss my colleagues. When August comes I’ll be the first one through the double doors, saying “Hello! Glad to see you!”


One thought on “Colorful phrases are worth their weight in gold

  1. Hi Elizabeth,

    This was a providential post for me, concerning the expression about riding a free horse to death. I'm thankful the Lord placed it on your heart to write.

    That said, your coworker sounds hilarious!

    Enjoy your summer off; I look forward to your posts.


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