I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT “SWEATING BALLS” meant . . . well, “sweating balls”. I never understood. You’re so hot that you’re sweating balls? Why would being hot make testicles emerge from your pores?
The other day I followed this thought through and it raised some questions. If someone is sweating balls, actual balls, then are those balls also sweating balls? Presumably, the balls being sweated also possess sweat glands and pores. So the same process of thermoregulation would apply. And what about the balls coming out of those balls? And the balls coming out of the balls coming out of the balls? Since when are testicles like Russian Dolls? Where does it end? How small do the balls get?
It’s genital Inception: balls within balls within balls.
Another troubling question: how does this work anatomically? Are the balls within balls within balls all stored inside our sweat glands, each inside the other? Or are the extra balls grown on the spot, as they are needed?
Anyway, this made no sense to me, so I turned to my friends. Here is what I found: no one knows why the hell we say this. But there are at least two alternate theories that the people I asked came up with.
One is that the phrase means “I am sweating so profusely that my sweat is pouring out of me in giant beads of perspiration, the size and shape of spherical objects used in some sporting activities.” Another is “I am sweating all over my body as profusely as balls sometimes sweat”. In the former interpretation, a case of hyperbole, the phrase “I am sweating balls” is an abbreviation of “I am sweating balls OF SWEAT.” In the latter interpretation, the phrase “I am sweating balls” is a garbled version of the intended meaning, because it should really be a simile, such as “I am sweating LIKE balls sweat”. I find this interpretation less probable because of the grammatical gymnastics required to make it fit. I think that “I am sweating balls OF SWEAT” is the winner.
But a few other takes that my housemate had on the subject:
“I am so sweaty and it is concentrated in my balls.”
“I am so sweaty, a measurement of perspiration from my balls represents this fact.”
If anyone has another theory, set us straight.