I learned this expression – “like Alphonse and Gaston” from Wordsmith. It is, interestingly, a parallel to the very Lukhnavi “pehle aap” syndrome.
Here’s what www.wordsmith.org says about the history of the expression.
(From the daily mail from that site – )
with Anu Garg
Love and Marriage go together like a horse and carriage, so the song goes. They do, often, but not always. On the other hand, characters in this week’s pairs do go together, at least in language. This week’s eponyms (a word coined after a person) feature two people who work together, well, like a nut and a bolt, or a rack and pinion, or yin and yang or an axle and a wheel.
Alphonse and Gaston
noun: Two people who treat each other with excessive deference, often to their detriment.
After the title characters in a cartoon strip by cartoonist Frederick Burr Opper (1857-1937). Alphonse and Gaston are extremely polite to each other, to the extent that their “After you, Alphonse”, “You first, my dear Gaston!” routine often gets them into trouble, such as when they can’t evade a trolley which mows them down while each insists on letting the other go first.
“A weeklong bout of Governor and public worker unions playing Alphonse and Gaston on contract proposals has the public frustrated about an end to the nonsense. No one really cares who goes first and no one cares if the offer is on or off the record, written or oral, engraved on fine linen or scribbled on a Post-it.”
Cynthia Oi; All We Really Want Are Some Solutions; Star-Bulletin (Hawaii); Jul 12, 2009 .
Poetry is the overflowing of the Soul. -Henry Theodore Tuckerman, author and critic (1813-1871)
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