Acquaintance Charms in Ride
Oh? No. It's not metaphorical.
If you can reasonably use the person as a mount, then you don't have to pay a 1xp surcharge when using him or her to buy Acquaintances 1.
It's not something the Sidereals actually *do*, but Exalted magic is generally literal. You can ride a buck-ogre with some kind of back-mounted harness, with the creature hunching a little forward. You can ride a fae with horse and human shapes. You can ride most Lunars, assuming they've eaten a quadruped's heart's blood. You can't pragmatically ride an average peasant; humans aren't built for it.
If it *would* work, then the Messenger can scribble a note on your destiny that this person is a mount, and this makes the stars happier about the whole connection, so it costs less.
Part of the point is that Sidereals think that way. They're mostly too dignified to actually ride people, but when they're shopping for personal connections, they've got to evaluate- on a purely mechanical level- "would this person make a good beast of burden?" Once you've processed the humor and weirdness and don't care about them any more, what's left is mild reinforcement of the Sidereal attitude towards non-Sidereals.
Gods? Friends? Loyal animal companions bound to your soul? They're things you ride, to get the places you're going. And, if you have to ride them to death to get where you're going, you do. That's what Riding the Dragon is all about.
That is close but not 100% accurate. :)
The Acquaintances Background did not exist when the *Maidens* built that Charm. One of the things I did during Charm building was think out why each Charm existed in the setting, and, for the few Charms that have had to change over time, their history. :)
When *I* wrote the Charm, I knew about the Acquaintances Background. It changed a little bit since I wrote the Charm, I think, but not hugely—-my best memory, and I'm sleepy right now, is that it added some kind of option that the Charm doesn't easily duplicate, which makes it more worthwhile in chargen.
I'm not sure what you're currently asking.
I'll answer the original question: you can use the Charm to make genuine Acquaintances.
No one should censure you for doing so: not the Maidens, not the Bureaucracy, not the Storyteller.
The Charm is just a bit wonky because the Maiden of Journeys didn't know that Sidereals would need Acquaintances when she created it. Possibly she guessed … but I think the Maidens guessed five million things about the future of the world, and only about ten or twenty thousand actually came to pass.
(I mean, look at the Medicine tree. They knew *something* like the Deathlords was likely to happen; and it's pretty clear they knew it was going to be bad; and it's also clear that they had no idea whatsoever what the details would be. I suspect strongly that their best guess was that Deathlords and Abyssals would be zombies.)