“When the balls roll around…” Family Saying

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: April 21st, 2012
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

When the balls roll around, you better know which side of the nutsack you’re on”      Sound Clip

The source said that this saying, with origins in Austria, was passed down by the men in his family from generation to generation.

The first time he heard the saying, he was playing pee-wee baseball and wanted to quit after being hit by a stray pitch. The source said his father took him aside and “busted that little gem on me. I had know idea what it meant, but it terrified me. And I ended up playing baseball for the better half of that decade.”

“From then, that saying just became kind of loosely incorporated into the fabric of my life.” He claims to get “sideways looks” any time he uses the saying around USC, so he now reserves it for use among “the Dallas community”.

“Literally, I think it means that you just gotta know what your priorities your standards are. But, uh, I think the great thing about a metaphor like that is that it can mean anything to different people, you know?”

 

I think that the saying, more than a proverb about getting priorities straight, the context in which the source’s father first used it towards him, shows that is a way of calling someone’s masculinity into question. This is further reflected by the fact that the source is a fairly typical Texan, and loves “manly” things like football and boxing. The fact that the saying is about balls in a sack almost implies that one doesn’t have any “balls” if they don’t behave a certain way or do certain thing. Its a way to encourage the men in the family to behave in a masculine way.