Doug, a 40-year-old who was partying among a crowd of 30 at Automatic Slims recently mapped out the issue quite succinctly: "Blue balls is a myth, in my personal experience. It was invented by some guy who wanted to have sex with a girl. Tell her if she loves you, she'll have sex with you."
But four other men I talked to emphatically disagreed with Doug's assertion that blue balls does not exist.
Take, for instance, Matt, a heavily tattooed regular on the nomadic scene of mid-20-somethings, who party-surfs throughout the week at clubs like Lush, Saltbox, Poor House, and Maguire's Hill 16, which is where we sat together on bar stools on a recent Sunday night. When I asked him about blue balls, he showed me a tattoo that runs the length of his thigh. It shows a large, blue-balled eagle with its wings stretched out like fingers, saying "Please help me" in sign language. He seemed the perfect subject, a guy who felt so strongly about the topic of blue balls that he had them inked on his epidermis.
Matt explained that while he was hanging out in a friend's tattoo shop, a deaf man with a big nose came in selling cards with the sign language alphabet on them for $1. The man, Matt said, was obviously attracted to him. So his friend the tattoo artist drew a sketch of an eagle with a big nose and gave it blue balls. Matt's friend said to him, "If I draw this up nice, you won't get it tattooed on you. You won't. You won't."
"So, I did. And then the next day," he explained, "I sobered up and was like, 'What did I do?'"
I asked him, "Have you ever used that tattoo to your advantage?"
"The girls I like are pretty disgusted by it," he explained. "They'll cover up the tattoo before they'll cover up my actual parts."
"Have you ever experienced an ache in your scrotum from not getting laid?"
"Yeah, but at that point, I don't even know if it's physical or psychological. I know when I really want to lay a girl, if she shows up, I'll start aching. If it's a girl I used to date and she's with another guy and I'm really attracted to her, my whole body will feel numb."
"Have you ever used blue balls as an excuse to get a girl to have sex with you?"
"What girl actually falls for that?" he replied.
Then Tim, a boyishly handsome singer, said he had experienced the phenomenon: "In the midst of heavy petting with a young lady... there were a few times when it was kind of like an achy sensation in my nether regions," he said. "They didn't actually turn blue, but I assume that's what people are talking about."
"How long did said ache last?"
"If I were an uncouth gorilla, I would say until I came. However, since I'm not, I would say until full manual release was achieved. Which is kind of like saying the same thing, but anyways..."
"Have you ever used blue balls as an excuse to get laid?" I put to him.
"Who wants pity sex?" he blurted out. "That's ridiculous."
In a whimsical Internet search on the subject of blue balls, I discovered a reference to a similar condition in women, phrased, on the Discovery Health website, as the "discomfort of unrelieved vascocongestion. Women's genitals also become engorged with blood during sexual arousal and, like their male counterparts, women can experience pelvic heaviness and aching if they do not reach orgasm."
Tim's slender, blond girlfriend, Vanessa, dropped in next to us to give her opinion. "Your whole vagina feels, like, this enormous pressure on it," she explained. "Enormous pressure, like someone is pushing on your pubic bone. It's still just, like, all pent-up whatever down in that area.
"Once, I was hanging out with a guy I knew really well. We started hooking up, and I was, like, really into him... I would go into it knowing that it wasn't going to happen at all. One time in particular, I'd kind of gotten close... And then it was over, and it sucked. I was, like, really pissed off. It makes me feel really aggressive, 'cause you don't know what to do with yourself. It was like that, like serious pressure on my vagina. I actually went into his bathroom, like, whatever to clean up and I laid down on the floor and masturbated, because I was, like, this sucks, and it hurt."
I asked, "And it worked out?"
"Yeah, it took me, like, two seconds."
Tim asked bluntly, "Baby, have I ever left you wanting? Be honest."
"No," Vanessa replied, "it's only blue clitoris if you're close to it [an orgasm] and then it stops and then it's over. If you're not close and it's over, it's like, 'It's good. It's sex, whatever. '"
Twenty-nine-year-old Bryan, tall with dark hair and eyes, said, "I don't have anything enlightening to say about blue balls except for the fact that they suck."
"So," I queried, "you had them when you were a teenager?"
"Shit, I still get 'em."
"How long do they last?"
"Until you take care of business."
"When was the last time you had the alleged blue balls?"
"Six months ago," he answered. "The girl got off before I did, and that was the end of it."
For clarity, I asked, "She just got off before you did, and she was, like, 'Stop'?"
"Did you ever have sex with her again?"
"No. Actually, you know what happened? Two girls in a row, actually. You wake up in the morning and you're just sore."
"Until TCB [taking care of business], which is also one of the great hangover cures, by the way. Grease, TCB, and Diet Coke is the greatest hangover cure. Diet Cherry Coke, that's the new crack cocaine."
Lush, 3074 NE 33rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Saltbox, 900 E. Sunrise Ln., Fort Lauderdale
Poor House, 110 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Maguire's Hill 16, 535 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Automatic Slims, 15 W. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale