We talk about an arrogant man being a cock, a whining and demanding man being a prick, an indefensibly stupid man as being a dick.
Synecdoche all, we reduce the whole of the man to his most visible and ubiquitous male part. Like calling an overbearing woman a cunt, or a mildly overbearing and additionally stupid woman a twat—there’s a much slenderer range of emotion that girlparts represent—the act of calling a man one of these idiomatic terms is largely derogatory.
So, then, we have to ask: what’s the deal with balls?
Balls function differently than cock in this slangy linguistic economy: they signify not male failings but male strength.
A particularly manly man has metaphoric big balls (he may or may not have literal big balls). If he’s so really very manly as to be more than a little in your face, he might have brass balls. Brass balls, we can only assume, are a step up because their metallic plating renders them impervious to harm; it’s like being from Krypton. A man who is manly and demanding has, with a kind of mathematical precision, big brass balls. We both admire and detest him and his metaphoric ginormous and rigid testes.
Men have brass cojones if they are fearless; however, they have no balls if they’re afraid to do something, and if they’re really scared they’re pussies. You might say a guy needs to grow a pair if he needs to find the strength to leave his pussywhipping girlfriend, but if he does, and then he starts dating a hot pair of twins, you might express your admiration by saying, “Look at the balls on him!”.
When they need to do something quickly, guys go balls out; if they need to go quickest they go balls to the wall. Macho men have testosterony, though if they do something inexplicably and specifically masculinely boneheaded, say taking acid, putting firecrackers between their lips and lighting them, then they are suffering from testosterone overdose.
We might, if we’re Brits, exclaim, “Bollocks!” if we’re particularly frustrated by something, yet if some saviour rights that source of frustration, we might then call him or her “the Dog’s bollocks.” Which is, for some reason only understood by Brits, a good thing.
And balls are nuts are stones are googlies are nads are cobblers.
Balls, we know, are fragile. You might, if you’re a dude, bust a nut with exertion, or if it’s a really really funny fart joke, laughter. Though you don’t want to actually bust a nut. Ever.
And it’s really this paradox, this yin/yang of delicacy and strength that defines testes. “Testes” does, actually, hold the same etymological root as “witness,” and it is as if balls themselves bear a quiet witness to the masculinity of the man.
They are not the red glaring rampart of the phallus. They do not, like a phoenix, rise from their own ashes of consummated desire to flame out again. They do not curl up, baby bird-like, only to expand like magic-gro pets to a rock-hard cock.
They rest, silently, often unacknowledged, in the shadow of the mighty phallus. Though I suppose we can’t really discount blue balls, those moments when the humble balls scream with the unexpressed anger and frustration of the mighty, though mute, penis.
I don’t have literal balls. I have, from time to time, been accused of taking someone else’s—to emasculate is to take the balls, not the cock. But not having a pair of my own, I often feel at a loss as to what to do with those of others. It’s pretty clear what the penis likes—it shows its appreciation. But the quietude of the balls combined with their precariousness is disquieting.
And after all, they hurt, the balls, because they are so important.
But I endeavor to please the balls. To hold and to cup, to stroke gently. To teabag, even, if that seems to please the balls and the man attached to them. And here’s what I have to say on that particular subject: it’s best if the balls are clean.
It’s funny, somehow, to think of every man on the street walking around with his three-piece set. The cock is least funny, because it’s the most delightful, but the idea of a man’s balls jingly-jangling together like those swinging ball desk sets is amusing, for some reason. Well, actually, it’s funny because balls are funny. They’re wrinkly and hairy and there’s really nothing visually appealing about them.
They look like some strange hirsute fruit. Like plums that on the way to being prunes stopped to join the hair club for men. And some sets swing low and pendulous, like the balls of your father. Gravity, I think, is not kind to testicles.
I like the hard and high kind of balls. Balls like what I imagine Lance Armstrong’s neuticle to feel like, because I image Lance Armstrong has a neuticle; I imagine he wants a matched pair in his bike shorts.
And there they are in every man’s pants knock knock knocking together. Not slyly rubbing like the labia lips of my pussy, but bouncing gently in their little sacks, each ball with his twin, a happy loving couple that snuggles together in the cold and splays out in the heat, joining in play sometimes with their friend the cock.
So here’s to the balls of them all, all of them, large and small, pink and blue, high and hanging, pouty and pert, dirty and clean, real and silicone. Balls one and all, I raise a cup and salute you. Because the balls, after all, make the man.