Sitting on their hands and needles

One of my all time favorites, this little ditty was spoken by “the master” in response to a group of employees’ anxiety awaiting the announcement of several promotions.  Why is this a thing of beauty?  He mixes “sitting on their hands” (procrastinating or delaying) with “on pins and needles” (anxiously awaiting an outcome), which simultaneously describes the employees’ jobs (sedentary as they were paralegals) with their emotional state.  This compression of two phrases into a better phrase reminds my “ol pal” of Lewis Carroll’s use of “Portmanteau words” where two words are mashed together to form a new & better word like “chortle” (chuckle & snort) or “frumuous” (fuming & furious).

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