I Used To Think Testicles Were For "Leverage," And Five Other Embarrassing Knowledge Gaps

I've misunderstood some common knowledge over the years.
Publish date:
October 9, 2013
knowledge gaps

My dear old friend Misty put me through a lot of crap in high school. It was nothing serious and always out of love, but I was one of those girls who was hooked onto the overalls trend and she, along with 99% of my school, was not. She’d good-naturedly threaten to roll me down hills, because apparently overalls implied inevitable hill rolling.

I wasn’t the most fashion-conscious person and still am not, but who cares? Fashion is unnecessary in a practical sense, even if it can be fun to people who aren’t lazy like me.

What is not unnecessary is the basic understanding of human anatomy.

One time, in I believe junior year (I know I was 16), Misty and I were sitting in Spanish class when the subject of penises and balls came up among our pre-class conversation, which I’m sure happened a lot more back then when we were virgins. I don’t remember the exact context of the conversation and I’m sure it doesn’t matter, but I said something along the lines of, “Haha, right, because like what would hold up the penis?” I actually probably used a euphemism, a la Chrissy from “Now and Then,” because back then I said words like “penis” sparingly.

So anyway, Misty and the other kids around us just went quiet. And I was all, “What?”

And she goes, “…Do you not know what balls are for?”

And I kid you not, I mumbled something about leverage which, like, WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!? She had to explain it to me between her tears of laughter at me admitting I thought sperm came from the stomach or some shit, and she still teases me to this day whenever I see her, which is rare, about the leverage. And like/unlike the overalls hate, depending on who you ask, I deserve it.

How I missed this part of health class and/or my parents’ explanation, I have no idea. Maybe the day we learned that bit of info was the day during Homecoming Week I came dressed as Wakko Warner from “Animaniacs” and got excused from class to go hang out in the library because my teacher loved that show so much in college, which he told me while heavily implying he watched it while smoking weed. Which, of course, I didn’t pick up on then but now I’m like, “Ah, you sly devil.”

But even as I get older, there are things once in a while that I either correct people about or people correct me about that blow my mind, because I’ve been wrong about their purpose or definition or even spelling (the horror) for my entire life. It’s like in that episode of “How I Met Your Mother,” where all the characters have knowledge gaps of some kind. Like Robin thinks the North Pole is a fictional place, and Ted can’t pronounce “chameleon” properly. That episode made me feel better about my ball-knowledge issues, and a few others I didn’t learn until later in life, such as:

Snail Mail

Up until about three months ago, I did not know this was slang for regular mail. I thought there was a distinct understanding that the word “mail” by itself that was reserved for the kind the mailman brings, but no. Maybe mail is still called mail in Europe, but apparently here we had to shame it with a slow-animal adjective. Which is mostly me trying to justify not knowing what the hell this meant, and I still can’t quite put my finger on what I thought it meant. If I had to guess, I’d say it was a different term for those stupid AOL chain e-mails. Why? No idea. It’s something I never gave a lot of thought to.

Fruition = Fruitition

A coworker of mine a couple years ago was talking about something coming to fruition, and I was like “LOL WHAT!?” And he was like, “Errrr…fruition?” I looked it up and yep, it has nothing to do with fruit which, as the resident writer and editor, was super embarrassing for me. In my defense, though, when something is fruitful, it is blossoming and coming into existence, etc. etc. so I don’t think this is THAT crazy. Still embarrassing but hey, it could be worse. I could still not know what balls were for at 28.

Seafood Coming From The Sea

When I was maybe eight years old, I came up with what I thought was the most HILARIOUS joke. I believe I thought it up after watching “My Girl”, when Vada Sultenfuss asks Shelly if she likes seafood, and she goes, “SEE FOOD!” and shows her a mouth full of chewed-up food.


My joke was similar in the sense that I tried to make a pun, but unlike the flawless Vada, I failed. My version went like this?

“Hey Mom/Dad/other unsuspecting family member who is going to have to pretend this is funny, what does The Little Mermaid eat?”

“What, honey?”



Yeah. I don’t think I “got” that seafood came from the sea, which was where The Little Mermaid lived already, so she was probably eating her friends when the cameras weren’t rolling. I’m proud to say that today I’ve mastered the art of punnery, but back then, not so much.

I Still Think Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman are the same person.

I think this one is pretty common, to be fair, but like… seriously. I still don’t know which one was in “Twister,” which one was in “Independence Day,” or if that was the same person or not. And the thing is, neither of them is relevant enough for me to care enough to IMDb it.

“The Other Side” In The Chicken Joke

Apparently, according to some folks, the chicken getting to the “other side” is a joke about death, because you’re to assume he gets hit by a car. WHAT!? Up until recently, I thought it was just a really stupid joke that was funny because of the obvious punch line, but Reddit tells me otherwise. I don’t know, man. I think the jury is still out on this one, so you guys tell me if I’ve been misunderstanding this for almost 30 years.

Do you have any embarrassing knowledge gaps, xoJane readers?