There is a period in every boy's life that starts at 13 and stretches until (so far, in my experience) at least 29, where the aforementioned boy is obsessed to the point of mania with the size of his penis. This fades, with age, but still lingers – the real electric years of penis size mania, that curious combo of worry and obsession, go from around Year 8 to Year 12, from the first flushes of leg and pit hair through to the vague time everyone starts popping their virginities like balloons – and we do not talk much about that time, because it is embarrassing.
Hours spent, looking at the thing. Holding it up to other objects for scale. Fifty pence coins and small retractable rulers. Book spines and Coke tins. Are there exercises you can do to improve it? The internet says yes; the reality says no. Carefully trimming the pubes down with a pair of nail scissors to give the illusion of more length. There is a fracture that runs through the psyche of most of us – a quiet, distant, constant whisper; your diiiiiick, the wind says, could be wayyyy biggerrrr – that, hit at the right angle with the right sort of hammer, can cleave a man in two. Sixteen years, I have spent, locked in an eternal struggle against my own dick. And not even once have I thought about my balls.
Everybody be quiet now; Nicki Minaj has a question:
And that changes everything.
* * *
Nicki Minaj does not get enough credit (she has 20 million Twitter followers, 80 million Instagram fans and a net worth of $70 million: it is still possible to have all this and simultaneously not enough credit). I figure there is a time in all megacelebrities' lives when they switch from "normal, if exquisitely good-looking person" to "megastar", and that moment is when they realise they have not walked into a hotel, restaurant, taxi or plane recently without six or seven other people forming a human shield around them and yelling their announcement (this, I figure, must come a good 18 months to two years into their ascension; it might have hit a bit sooner for, say, Lady Gaga). As soon as you roll with an entourage, you are at an irreversible point of megafame, never to be destitute again.
And yet, something about Nicki Minaj just seems as if she's always been like that. That she never had to experience that breakwater day between fame and un-fame. Close your eyes and imagine Nicki Minaj thumbing change into a Metrocard machine. Nicki Minaj zoning out a bit at the corner shop in her pyjamas, staring at the Soleros for six straight minutes with a hangover coming like a wave. Imagine Nicki Minaj doing normal people stuff: you can't. Do you think Nicki Minaj has ever eaten chips on a bus? Has Nicki Minaj ever turned a white T-shirt grey while doing her own laundry? Has Nicki Minaj ever, ever looked in the GAP sale in case they have some good stuff 40 percent off? No, no, a thousand times no. The woman has a gloss over her as though she was born with it. I cannot imagine Nicki Minaj has ever had to set foot in a car below the level of a Mercedes. You just feel like she has always known stuff about diamonds.
We also have to give credit for giving the world the concept of ball size, packaged in six small words that hit somewhere between a chat-up line and a medical exam.
Because she's right: there is no accepted metric for measuring ball size. We measure height in feet and inches. We measure feet on an arbitrary number system. Tits fit into both letters and numbers. We have hat sizes, ring sizes, we measure pit-to-pit. There is no sterile system for distinguishing between an acorn ball and a grapefruit. Humanity – along the way, along all this way – has fucked up. There is a gap in our knowledge and our language. And Nicki Minaj is the only person switched on enough to notice.
Over the course of staring rapt at this tweet, I made some handwritten notes on how to fully measure balls at every metric – hairiness, smoothness of egg-like shape, relative mottling and tightness of the enclasping scrotum, the exact pendulum-like swing and height of the hang – but soon realised I was overthinking it: ultimately, Nicki Minaj is right, and the only thing that matters here is straight circumference, or "size". I propose we adopt the tit-method of assigning letters: A for tiny high seedling balls, B through D for something heftier, E for the kind of thing that gets in the way when you're playing football or lifting a heavy box while wearing sweatpants, F through H for assorted hernias and that guy who had the Channel 4 documentary made about how he used to flip a hoodie over and wear it upside-down to accommodate his lethally massive testicles.
We could complain about how we are different sizes in various different underwears – "I'm an A in Topman, but a C in H&M!" – and fathers would proudly take their sons to get their balls measured. We could take our briefs off at the end of the day and say "ahh" as our balls flop out in easy-breezy freedom. We can monetise bollocks. We could turn testicle-ownership into a billion-dollar industry.
And all of this just adds to the myth of Nicki Minaj. She is a rapper, actress, model. Mogul, singer, songwriter. Human Barbie doll, Pepsi spokesmodel. Fragrance magnate. Her mind whirrs on a thousand tangents at once, like an intricate timepiece. She just invented ball size and threw the concept away like it was a paper napkin. Nicki Minaj does not get enough credit. We have barely scratched the surface of what she is capable of.
More from this series: