“Do Your Ears Hang Low?”

I woke up with that song singing in my head. You know the tune, right? Most of us learned it at camp or in school. It’s traditionally sung to the melody of “Turkey in the Straw.”

The lyrics are:

Do your ears hang low?
Do they wobble to and fro?
Can you tie ’em in a knot?
Can you tie ’em in a bow?

Can you throw ’em o’er your shoulder
Like a continental soldier?

Do your ears hang low?

Apparently, this is a sanitized version of an original song, which most of us didn’t learn by the light of a campfire called “Do you Balls Hang Low?”

Those lyrics are:

Do your balls hang low?
Do they dangle to and fro?
Can you tie them in a knot?
Can you tie them in a bow?
Do they itch when it’s hot?
Do you rest them in a pot?

Do your balls hang low?

To my ears, the original, more risque words seem to make a lot more sense for two reasons: 1) If the song was, in fact, about and sung by soldiers, it seems more in keeping with bringing levity to the horrors of war; and 2) the image of throwing one’s “balls” over a set of shoulders seems to be more plausible than one’s ears as ears are already over said shoulders.

The idea that excessive testicular tissue is some sort of asset has always been confusing to me. Anyone who’s seen a boy/man collapse in paralyzed pain over getting kicked in the groin has been witness to the vulnerability of having been born with exposed genitalia. Self defense courses specifically teach potential victims of male perpetrators to “Go for the balls.” That ubiquitous advice seems to indicate that the male achilles heel is close to three feet north of the actual achilles heel.

And yet, there seems to be some cognitive dissonance when we, as a culture, say things like “He’s got some big balls” or “That’s a ballsy move.” Both imply confidence bordering on hubris. What a total disconnect this is from the physical reality of being born with tender genitalia which hang in a place perfectly poised for a defensive kick or a line drive baseball. Moreover, when boys and men fail to be tough, they are told to “grow a set”–the implication being that compassion or weakness indicates not having the right “equipment” to respond appropriately to the task.

And yet these phrases continue to be spoken.

Women use these words, too. I, myself, once said–to a room full of men after they all privately voted to retract a publicly stated admonishment of a out-of-compliance business owner while I voted to keep the punishment intact–“Why is it that I’m the only one in this room with a set of balls?”

I think that if we are going to associate strength/vulnerability with one’s reproductive parts, we really ought to be doing a better job. There should be a cultural rejiggering of the entire approach.

 In trying to come up with new and progressive lyrics to support my opinion on this, I have been stymied as there aren’t a lot of so-called polite ways to refer to the female genitalia with a one syllable word. Seeing as though the labia tissues are the nearest equivalent to the male testicular tissues, I’ll give rewriting the words a try using “labes” (rhymes with “babes”) as the one syllable replacement for “balls.”

Here you go:

Do your labes flip-flop?
Can you use them as a mop?
Are they pointy at the bottom?
Are they fleshy at the top?
Can you use them for a swatter?
Can you use them for a blotter?

Do your labes flip-flop?

This summer as you tip back a beer by the fire pit and people get to signing good ol’ campfire songs, I encourage you to offer up those lyrics. If nothing else, you’ll be encouraging out of “the box” thinking.

2 thoughts on ““Do Your Ears Hang Low?”

  1. I have heard a different version. I think it was a Boy Scout music merit badge. Do the girls hang low, do they wiggle to and fro, can you bounce them off your knee can you kick them with your toe. Do you throw them over your shoulder when you remove them from the holder, do your girls hang low.

    Liked by 1 person

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