What’s a Ballbox?

This question was something I puzzled over all day yesterday.

Jabulani, in his typical 13-year old morning funk, had thrown a “Mom, I REALLY need a ballbox” at me before rushing out the door. Newly in high school with all its added demands and responsibilities, he has been slightly stressed lately. There hasn’t been a day yet in this school year that he hasn’t lost or forgotten something. I frequently get calls to bring something or other to school or pick him up at the gate because he lost his pass. I have purchased more locker locks to supply my kids with than the Fort Knox purchasing department, a fact that is supported by a whole drawer of unmatched keys. (I can understand how one looses the key to a lock, but the lock itself? Trust me, it happens in our family). Most often, Jabulani’s stress is expressed by blaming the lack of proper equipment, as in “Mom, I told you a million times I need a new calculator but you never buy it.”

So it was yesterday morning. Dear Jabulani was in a bad mood, I could see, and couldn’t be bothered to tell me what a ballbox is. Oh no, that would be asking too much. If I so much as verify a point to make sure I’ve understood something correctly, all I get in response is exasperated sighing and eye-rolling.

Not wanting to be blamed again for motherly shortcomings in the purchasing department, and since I was heading out the door anyway, I thought I’d at least try to get this ballbox. The conversation had vaguely touched on his cricket practice, so I figured Sportsman’s Warehouse would be a good start. I’m a regular customer there. How hard could it be to find some box or other to carry cricket balls in?

It turns out not very hard, for once, and Sportsman’s Warehouse was indeed the right address. When I approached a sales clerk with my request, he led me past rows and rows of cricket helmets, bats, and leg guards, and past the balls as well, until we stood before a display of… athletic cups! Ever descriptive, South Africans call these things ballbox. I guess it IS after all a box to put your balls in. Just a different pair of balls.

Never mind that we already have a collection of fine athletic cups such as this one, tailored to fit in a pair of sliding shorts:

It turns out the sliding shorts are “so not cool” and a South African athletic cup such as this one was needed:

So now we’ve all learned what a ballbox is, adding yet another term to our South Africa dictionary right after “We will give you a tinkle”.

And we’ve also learned an important fact about the male South African anatomy, or perhaps rather about the male South African psyche.

South African “ballbox” on left vs American “cup”
on right, both youth size.

They like to think they have huge balls!

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