Toothless Gift Horse

Have you ever thought about words and phrases you use regularly…and how, perhaps, you’re not using them the way they were meant to be used.  Or, arguably worse, you don’t actually know what it means?

 

We were recently given a piece of junk as a gift.  We graciously accepted it, put it in place, stared at it for a day or two, then threw it out and bought a new a one that actually worked.

This makes me think of the phrase…

 

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

What people seem to think it means: You should just be happy to receive something, even if it’s crappy or useless.

I’ve seen numerous people use this phrase to try to convince children, or husbands as the case may be, to thank someone for a gift and to keep it and cherish it and maybe wear it, even though you’d not want to be caught dead in a sweater that looks like—whoops a little too specific there.  Anywho, that’s not what it’s really supposed to mean.

 

What it really means: You shouldn’t be rude when receiving a gift.  It comes from back in the day when nobles would give each other horses as gifts; it’s the medieval equivalent of giving your neighbor a car.

You can check the general health of a horse by examining its teeth and it was considered very rude to examine the teeth of the horse being given to you as a gift.  Hence the real meaning is, don’t be rude when someone’s giving you a gift.  Once you’ve received the gift you can bitch and whine and complain and invade his dukedom over the crappy gift, but not when he’s standing right in front of you.  It would be the equivalent of Oprah giving you a free car and you demand she turn the key to make sure it still runs before you accept it.  That’s wrong.

Now bitching about having to pay the taxes on it, is totally acceptable; after the fact.

 

Needless to say we thanked our gift-giver, returned the favor with a gift of our own (cash for gas), and subsequently gave it to someone else to haul to the junkyard then went out and bought one of our own.  That way we have exactly what we wanted all along and it actually works, and it will continue to work for several years as opposed to having to get the gift fixed before we can even use it.

~RCS

Can’t wait for the housearming when we have to explain where the thing he gave us went to. O_o

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