While reading The New York Times over coffee this morning at Bread Alone, I came across a wonderful expression I had somehow never heard before: “The toothpaste is already out of the tube.” (It was used by a Middle East expert in describing the Bush administration’s unfreezing of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority–a last ditch effort by Washington to bolster Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, in the face of Hamas’s success at the ballot box and now in the streets.)
I love the expression because it seems a bit stronger–and fresher, to my ears–than the more familiar “the cat is already out of the bag.” After all, the feline could presumably be put back in the bag, whereas that would be difficult, if not impossible, with the toothpaste.
Even the proverbial horse that has already left the stable could be returned to the barn more easily than excreted toothpaste could be returned to the tube. In this, the toothpaste is more akin to the genie that is already out of the bottle: I wouldn’t know where to begin in trying to coax it back in.
Can anyone think of additional expressions that mean the train has already left the station?