“Why is that every time I go to use my balls they’re lying all over the place dirty and deflated?” Jim huffed as he came in from outside balancing two dirty basketballs in his hands. “People in this house better start respecting my balls and treating them a little better!”
It isn’t often that life, specifically my husband, hands me such a golden nugget. Retorts popped in my brain like kernels of Jiffy-Pop until the overload switch kicked in and I was rendered completely speechless. The best I could do was cock an eyebrow at his dirty balls.
Yes, I know this is juvenile, but I have an eight-year old son so I’m kind of stuck in the land of all things juvenile right now. And recently, the eleven-year old brother of one of his friends decided to inform all the neighborhood eight-year olds that the word ball carries a dual meaning. I know this because he told me as I was tucking him into bed one night.
“You know mom ‘Sam’s’ brother told us today that the word ball means something else,” Jack confided.
HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON and REWIND.
Okay, I learned that before jumping to conclusions, it’s always good to Perry Mason your kids because often (in my case) conclusions are jumped to that often convict them of offenses they never intended to commit.
The last week of school Jack informed me that a classmate urged him to say the “C” word. Horrified, I cut him off, stormed out of the room and immediately called said classmate’s mother. She emphatically protested that there was no way her son would ever know that word let alone say it, and summarily hung up on me, ending what never would have been a friendship.
Filled with indignation, I went back to Jack for more information to prove her wrong. Not wanting to have Jack say the offensive word the boy tried to force him to say, I instructed him to spell it for me--letter by letter.
“Jack, what letter comes after C?”
“D,” he replied matter-of-factly.
“C-D? Jack, what letter comes after C? I asked, beginning to lose my patience.
“I told you D.”
“The C in the C word isn’t followed by the letter D.”
“Mom,” he replied in irritation. “You asked me what letter comes after C. D comes after C in the alphabet.”
“No, No, No. The C word. What letter comes after C in the C word?” I pressed.
“Oh. Are we still talking about that? R. R comes after C” he said.
“C-R?” I couldn’t make it out. “What letter comes after R and if you tell me S I’ll send you to your room!”
“A comes after R.”
C-R-A…the C word isn’t spelled that way. “Give me another letter,” I demanded, mingling my impatient frustration with his.
“Geeze mom, what is this Wheel of Fortune?” he angrily retorted.
“I want to know the next letter in the C word!” I yelled.
“P. C-R-A-P. There mom. Are you happy now? You just had me spell the C word.”
“Crap? Crap is the C word you’re talking about? Are you kidding me?” I almost said “Are you fucking kidding me? but thankfully my half-second delay had miraculously kicked in.
Relieved that the C word he was talking about was only crap I said, “You’re right Jack. That is a bad C word. I’m glad you didn’t say it. I’m proud of you.” And considering that swearing is my second language, I was indeed proud of him for not saying it to his classmates.
Which is why I hesitated jumping to conclusions with his balls story. I wanted to make sure we were both on the same page.
“Mom,” he whispered conspiratorially, “did you know (laugh, laugh, giggle, giggle) that a ball isn’t only something you toss, kick or dribble. It’s your…you know,” he continued to laugh as he pointed towards his SpongeBob briefs that he was wearing inside-out.
I don’t know which was cuter. Him thinking that he and his friends were let in on a great newly discovered secret, or the fact that he thought he was teaching me something entirely new. I was just so thrilled that I still had enough currency in his world that he wanted to share this with me.
The problem is that he now tries to fit this double entendre into every possible sentence and scenario. And his father, so happy to have a bona fide excuse to act like an eight-year old again, was happy to indulge. He did not see it as immature; he preferred to see it as bonding with his son.
So, needless to say I am referee to all the dinner table father-son ball-banter stories whether at home, at restaurants, or at Grandma’s; all the sports references about chasing balls, kicking balls, balls hitting the net…
And then there was my son’s original song, “I’ve Got 3 Balls, That’s Why I Limp” created as we were walking to the field while he was carrying his basketball, soccer ball, and baseball.
So how could I possibly pass up the opportunity to unleash my inner eight-year old when my husband stood before me asking about his deflated dirty balls? However, the moment was interrupted by the doorbell.
Standing in my doorway was our neighbor holding a mud crusted basketball in her hand that she had plucked from the body of her newly planted azalea bush. She and I just stood there staring each other down until she cocked her untrimmed eyebrow at the dirty ball.
“I believe this dirty ball belongs to you? Can you please keep them out of my bushes? ” she scolded.
“Jim,” I called from the porch. “The neighbor wants you to keep your dirty balls out of her bush!”
Because I’ve learned that if you can’t beat your metaphorical balls, you might as well join them. And laugh out loud.