For the last two days Abby has devoted her column solely to the issue of the thong. "Thongs up or thongs down?" she asked her readers a few weeks ago, in response to a letter from a young woman who was battling her mother over the "sinfulness" of such a scanty garment.
Hmm...Abby was trying to make a catchy reference to "thumbs up or thumbs down?" of course, but it doesn't quite work when you're talking about attire that is literally described as being worn (or, um, not worn) up or down. So her invitation for reader to weigh in didn't come out as well as it could have....nevertheless, folks obliged, with all kinds of answers. Some are better than others, but a two-day thong-de-force (or, um, whatevs...) of Dear Abby is certainly the kind of occasion that should be celebrated.
(On a side note, I'd like to acknowledge the glorious world we're living in, where a detailed discussion of underwear CAN be featured in the "Lifestyle" section of the average newspaper. And furthermore, I'd like to present this as a classic example of the reader response cross-section column, an issue on which Sam and I disagree-he thinks it's a break for the columnist, I think it's more work).
OK....thongs away! (um, sorry). I'll just include highlights, and Abby's and my commentary where appropriate.
yesterday's column: TO THONG, OR NOT TO THONG: THOUSANDS ENTER DEBATE
DEAR ABBY: I'm writing regarding the letter from "San Diego Sinner" (Nov. 21), whose mother says wearing thong underwear is sinful. Abby, that mother may not have known a better way to express her views. I believe she was trying to protect her daughters from males who might view the absence of a pantyline as a "signal" that they are sexually available.
The issue here isn't underwear; it's the girls' lack of trust in their mother. They should accept their mom's ruling as an indication of her love and concern for them. Her attitude may be quaint, but she loves them or she wouldn't be concerned. -- MARY IN ALBUQUERQUE
Hmm....parents have done a lot of horrifying things in the name of protecting their children, particularly their purity and marriageability. Genital mutilation? Foot binding? Not a good argument.
DEAR ABBY: I'm the daughter of a clergyman, deeply involved in my church. I dress conservatively and am as far from being promiscuous as it's possible to be and not be in a convent.
Most women wear thongs to avoid a pantyline. I suspect that the mother in that letter fears her daughters are trying to be sexy or are sexually active because they wear thongs. It's a mistake. It is possible for a girl who wears "granny panties" to still sleep around.
-- RELIGIOUS IN ST. LOUIS
Ooh, nice! Thongs don't count, because you can be slutty no matter WHAT kind of underwear you wear! An optimistic twist.
DEAR ABBY: I vote thongs down. They strike me as being as "comfortable" and "sexy" as walking around with dental floss between one's teeth.
-- REALIST IN N.Y.
Ah, the old dental floss argument...I feel like this always comes from someone who has never worn a thong....
DEAR ABBY: Moral issues aside, thongs are not good for your health. Wearing thongs has caused an increase in the number of vaginal yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis infections in women. That teeny strip of fabric is a "bacteria highway" from back to front.
I work in a hospital, and you wouldn't believe how many parents bring elementary school-age daughters to our pediatric ER for urinary tract infections. The parents are repeatedly advised not to buy thong underwear for their girls. Add my vote to thongs down. -- T.W. IN LAS VEGAS
This is actually really interesting, and something I'd never heard before. Definitely something to keep in mind when dealing with younger children who may not have the best personal habits. (How small do they make thongs these days??)
DEAR ABBY: When I was a new bride 30 years ago, my husband gave me money to buy a pair of "thongs." The only thongs I had ever heard of were those flat rubber sandals. Imagine his surprise when I got home and he asked me to "model" them. When I came out wearing fire engine red flip-flops, his expression was priceless. Imagine MY surprise when I realized what he'd meant by "thongs." I had seen those items displayed in the lingerie department and always assumed they were jock straps for transvestites. -- THONGS ARE WRONG IN BUFFALO
Just awesome. Although I wish it had ended with education and enlightenment, not "thongs are wrong."
Today: THONGS PRAISED AND PANNED BY MEN RESPONDING TO POLL
Abby says: DEAR READERS: As promised, today you'll see what some male readers had to say about thongs, as well as the results of my reader poll. Fifty-five percent voted thongs up, 28 percent voted thongs down, and 17 percent gave mixed reviews. And 9 percent of the readers were male ...
DEAR ABBY: Thongs up, girl! I switched to thongs when I turned 14 and have never looked back. A man can't wear tight white jeans with anything else. Love ... DINO IN SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR ABBY: I have never understood why girls would wear something that appears to violate all laws of comfort.
The only way for me to solve this mystery was to try a thong. I purchased two and wore them exclusively for a couple of days. After the initial "getting used to," they were comfortable. In fact, I like them so much I bought a few more this evening. I am also thinking about buying other ladies' underwear.
While this might be perceived as less than masculine, what I saw in the lingerie section looked a lot more comfortable and sexy to me than my old boxers or briefs. Abby, why won't they let us guys wear sexy underwear? -- CONFUSED IN VIRGINIA
Lots of men were totally comfortable embracing their own thong usage. (Moreso than the women, who were mostly either defensive or judgemental).
DEAR ABBY: I'm voting thongs down. I'm 62 and grew up in the '50s and '60s with three good-looking sisters who always wore pretty ladies' nylon briefs -- all different colors, lace trim, prints, solids, flowers, silk panties. Wow! That was the style back then. All the girls wore them -- Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page, etc. In the '70s and '80s girls adopted those ugly bikini panties, and now they're wearing thongs? Abby, please urge them to adopt those pretty panties of the '50s and '60s again. -- JACK IN BROCKTON, MASS.
I'm creeped out by this guy's fetish with his good-looking sisters' "pretty nylon briefs." Also, speaking of hygiene, nylon is a TERRIBLE idea. Cotton! Please!
DEAR ABBY: Thongs up or down? Up, they're uncomfortable -- I twist my neck and strain my eyes -- but I have to say I really love them down. -- TODD IN MILWAUKEE
Thanks, Todd, for taking Abby's pun literally, as I was also tempted to do...
And, wrapping things up....:
DEAR ABBY: With regard to your poll, the whole world now knows Abby doesn't wear a thong. Pity. -- CLIFF IN HALLANDALE, FLA
Abby's reply: DEAR CLIFF: OK, so I'm "a little behind" the times.
P.S. I love your imagination.