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Like Salts Through a Widow-Woman

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Marissa in Tallahassee, Florida, is puzzled when a friend observes that coffee goes through her like salts through a widow-woman, meaning that the beverage makes its way swiftly through her digestive system. The expression, which has been around since the 1860s, refers to the use of Epsom salts as a laxative. In other versions of this analogy, different verbs are used, including lit out, disappeared like, and hurried like. The list of what the salts are sometimes said to go through includes a hired girl, a tall Swede, a sick child, a weak man, a sick cow, a sick horse, a goose, and even a skeleton. This is part of a complete episode.

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