I Ask: Are There Monkey Balls All Over My Neighborhood?

A little glitch in the system sent out the wrong QUESTION, and I have to transfer all your comments BY HAND on the first edition of I ASK because of the glitch. However, the glitch (I’m REALLY liking that word) is fixed and NO COMMENTS WILL DISAPPEAR ANYMORE. Oh, and I picked my top two favorites answers (which was HARD) and add them to the bottom of the post with made-up categories. NOTE: These categories will change depending on the awesomeness of your comments. And my whims. But mostly your comments.

ENOUGH EXPLANATION! On to today’s question….

What Do You Call THIS:

Because we are out on a walk and my son kicks one. Out of nowhere my husband yells: MONKEY BALLS.

I look up in the trees flailing my arms to protect my children from flying poop.  (Because I already KNOW how to protect them from flying poop.)

But NO MONKEYS. Just these brown, spiky things on the ground. And the term MONKEY BALLS irrevocably intertwined with them.

So HELP!  Is my husband nuts? Or are these monkey nuts?   Because maybe we should be feeling REALLY BAD for the lady monkeys.

Answer that had actual RESEARCH to back it up: kdemy wrote: I thought at first that the husband was nuts, but they really ARE monkey balls according to Wikipedia. Apparently “space bug”, “bommyknocker”, “bir ball”, “gumball”, “conkleberry”, “cukoo-bir” or “sticky ball.” We have called them gumballs since I was a kid, but from now on they will be called bommyknockers! Now that I have something fun to call them, I don’t think I mind that my yard is riddled with them.

Answer with the most honesty: Krystyn wrote: I don’t call them anything except “ouch” or “crap” when I step on them!

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

48 thoughts to “I Ask: Are There Monkey Balls All Over My Neighborhood?”

  1. I call them prickles. Not sure where that came from but right when I saw the picture that’s what I called them!

  2. well I used to know what they were called but my now adled brain (after driving 350 miles with 4 kids under the age of 9 and 6 hours of sleep and trying to go to a 12 hour Indian wedding outside when the had to (gasp) wear long pant in the (gasp again) summer…and then seeing you call them Monkey Balls…ugh! If it comes to me I’ll get back to you.

  3. I thought at first that the husband was nuts, but they really ARE monkey balls according to Wikipedia. Apparently “space bug”, “bommyknocker”, “bir ball”, “gumball”, “conkleberry”, “cukoo-bir” or “sticky ball.” We have called them gumballs since I was a kid, but from now on they will be called bommyknockers! Now that I have something fun to call them, I don’t think I mind that my yard is riddled with them.

  4. They are Sweetgum tree seed pods, AKA liquidambars. The term “Gumball comes from this. They are a hot item in the organic gardening circles for their slug and snail deterring abilities.

    Personally, I always called them the Spikey Treepod Thingies or the Old Lady Killers because I have seen quite a few osteoporotic pts with wrist, hip and forearm fx thanks to these babies!

    1. Old lady killers. That is a SWEET name (although sadly more true than monkey balls).

      Who knew I could be ebaying this? Organic gardeners going CRAZY for my monkey balls!

  5. One thing they are NOT is cow patties or horse farts or road apples. This I know.
    And they definitely didn’t fall off the manure truck. Or out of something’s butt.
    But if they are monkeyballs, then I pity the man monkeys too, walking around ballless

    1. You are so much more sympathetic than I am. I didn’t even think about the poor man monkeys. Just the lady monkeys having to deal with those when they’re attached.

      And what’s a horse fart? (Besides the obvious?)

      1. Ah that is the question: what really IS a horse fart?
        They were a much coveted item when I was growing up. Worthy of the risk of tearing your pants (or skin) on barbed wire fences and/or being kicked in the head by a feisty mare. For he who holds the horse fart hold the key to much admiration, potential for utter classroom chaos, and bucketfuls of laughter.
        Basically it’s dried horse manure – which is actually a lot harder to find than you might think. Once the outside gets hard and dried there are “gasses” trapped on the inside. Strategically placed and stamped upon at the right moment, the gasses (and some manure “dust”) are released causing odorific hilarity.
        And now we know why I moved from my hometown as soon as I could . . .

  6. I have never seen anything like that before! But then again, I’ve never spent much time far from Northern AZ. And NOTHING really grows out here, not even monkeys.
    .-= Story Lady´s last blog ..Oh, Billy! =-.

  7. Alex, I had to laugh when I read your post—I’ve dealt with those crazy stickery balls in my yard for years now and they drive me crazy! 🙂 I only have one tree in my yard and it’s a Sweet Gum Tree. Mind you, I did not know how high-maintenance those trees were when I bought my house. Had I known, I might have thought twice before making my purchase. Consequently, I have this love/hate relationship with that tree—I love its shade in the summer and it’s a beautiful tree, BUT….I have to rake leaves AND “monkey balls” (this year I gathered five huge bags of them. All from one tree!) You’ve done me a service, though, because if I can think of them light-heartedly as “monkey balls” and they remind me of you, I won’t think of them as such a nuisance anymore. Thanks for helping me with my attitude adjustment! 🙂

  8. Your husband is funny…

    I don’t know if I could live with trying to keep up with that…but, then, I do compete with baby e on a daily basis, so there’s that.

    Love it…monkey balls. My kids will love it, too…

  9. I grew up calling them monkey malls, for no reason other than that’s what my younger brothers called them. Our formative years (as far as developing concepts of seedpods related to mammal genitalia go)(although the genitalia explanation didn’t occur to me until about 2 years ago) were spent in CA. It wasn’t until moving to Richmond six years ago that I had *ever* heard them called gumballs. And let me tell you, Richmonders get pissy if you call them anything but gumballs. Since then I have learned that they grow on sweetgum trees, so in the name of all that is botanically holy, I allow my Richmond-born children to correct me. They will always be monkey balls in my heart, though.
    .-= Jess´s last blog ..word of the day 149/365: mama =-.

  10. Ok. HYSTERICAL that S calls them monkey balls. My MeMa in Mississippi had a HUGE tree in her front yard and we grew up calling them sweet gum balls. NOT so sweet if you’ve ever stepped on one barefoot.

  11. We call them “conkers” in our house. We stole the name from the PBS cartoon, Kipper.

    If they still have their stem on them, you can use them like a mace to “conk” another person on the head. Not that I’d know. But, if I did, I would warn you that they get tangled in hair so watch out with your conking.

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