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I really put my foot in it this time.

Two weeks ago, I responded to a letter from a woman who signed herself Doggie Comes First. Well! Never in the 48 years that I've been giving advice professionally has one column generated so much bitter, angry mail! I've made my fair share of enemies in the past, God knows, but nothing I've ever written has generated the kind of vitriol my response to Doggie Comes First inspired.

For readers who missed the original column, here's an abridged version. I want everyone to know what all the fuss is about.

Doggie Comes First: "My dog is incredibly jealous. He growls menacingly at my lovers and lately he's been picking through my laundry basket, retrieving my underwear, which he proceeds to destroy and/or eat. (This isn't so funny when you're dropping $14 on a thong.) I don't know what to do."

My response: "Despite the fact that your dog is doing you a favor when he destroys those $14 thongs (butt floss is now and forever a fashion don't), you can solve your problem by having your dog destroyed. It's a drastic step, I realize, but the godlike power over life and death is one of the thrills of pet ownership."

Frankly, I still think my advice to Doggie Comes First was sound. However, as mine would seem to be the minority opinion, I shall defer to the judgment of my outraged readers and retract it. There isn't room to run all the letters I received--that would require an entire newspaper--so what follows is a representative sampling of the letters that shamed me into a retraction:

I've read your column for a long, long time. I do not believe what you told Doggie Comes First in last week's column. Thongs are a fashion don't? I can't even fathom what would make the thong unfashionable (other than a flabby ass). Thongs are sexy on women, Dan! --Thong Lover in Texas

I take offense at the term "butt floss." My thongs do not floss my ass crack. As a matter of fact, I don't even know they are there. --Happy to Wear $14 Thongs

Damn it, Dan! What, are you trying to ruin the fun for us straight guys? Ass floss makes me hot, and why the fuck do you care anyway?!? You're gay!!! Think what you will about thongs as fashion, but unless you want me telling gay men that lube is for pansies (my weak attempt at a reciprocal analogy), let us straight guys have all the fun we can! --Thongless in Seattle

My girlfriend tends to wear tight-fitting pants. She has an ass to die for. She wears thongs to prevent her underwear from showing through her pants. Allowing your underwear to show through your pants is, you'll agree, a more serious "fashion don't" than wearing thongs. She is in fact so sexy in those thongs that I have felt compelled to wear them myself on occasion. --Butt Floss Forever

Who died and left you in charge of women's underwear? And since when are you concerned with "fashion don'ts"? I've seen you in person, Dan, and everything you had on was a fashion don't. In fact, you were a walking fashion disaster. If I were you, I would worry less about women's underwear and more about those beat-up old tennis shoes of yours! --Thongs Rule

Dan! Don't tell women they shouldn't wear thongs! You're a gay man! Women listen to gay men! Don't ruin everything for us straight guys!! --I Would Slit My Wrists If It Weren't for Thongs

Do you consider panty lines to be fashionable? It's likely that you do not. While there are some men who enjoy the sneak peek, visible panty lines (VPL) has approximately the same level of eroticism as breast self-exam instructions. There are three ways to avoid VPL:

1. Stop wearing clothes that show panty lines. Any formfitting clothes can show panty lines, even jeans. So...jogging pants and muumuus?

2. Go commando.

3. Wear a thong.

Public butt flossing is not necessary, but thongs are a comfortable and reasonable alternative to the hideous panty line. --Beer & Thong Fan

The reason many women choose to wear "butt floss" isn't so that our ass cheeks, which are not usually a woman's favorite part of her body, can hang out all over the place. Most nonthong women's underwear that looks decent (bikini, French-cut, etc) has this extremely annoying tendency to creep up into the nether region betwixt our jiggly buttocks. So the idea is, if it's going to creep up there anyway, why not get some underwear that's already tucked firmly in place? Voila! The thong. Silly-looking underwear lines and picking out snuggies are a thing of the past. And as most thong-wearing fashion gurus can attest, you truly don't notice the piece of material running through your ass crack after the first five minutes. Most women are hooked instantly, and never go back. --Thong Wearin' Woman

Nothing is worse than peeling away a tight skirt to find a pair of saggy undies. Perhaps in the homo-male world thongs are a fashion don't--unless one is an erotic dancer, maybe--but I wouldn't know. Please reconsider. I'm sure you will get a lot of mail on this one. --Longs for Thongs

Well, you were right, LFT. I did get a lot of mail on this one--there are a lot of people out there who are passionate about thongs, apparently. Interestingly enough, one person who wrote in didn't take issue with my disparagement of the thong. Instead, she objected to my suggestion that Doggie Comes First have her jealous, growling, thong-destroying dog put down...

While I gather that your column is supposed to be of the cranky/sarcastic variety, your suggestion that Doggie Comes First destroy her dog was over the line. An alternative response might have been that (a) the dog may know something about these clowns that she doesn't, and (b) in any event, the dog could use some training before somebody gets hurt. The ASPCA or her veterinarian are good resources for training information, and there are lists on the 'Net for advice. I know your responses are meant for a laugh, but there are too many people out there who take even the most obviously absurd suggestion as good advice. Millions of pets (I am not PC enough to call them "companion animals") are destroyed each year simply because they are an inconvenience to their owners. Don't give such people any more ideas.

And I agree with you totally about the butt floss, by the way.

Sincerely,

Mary McInerney

President

FIDO in Prospect Park

Brooklyn, New York

(A group dedicated to responsible pet ownership)

Well, there you have it: Don't throw out your thongs, ladies, and don't kill your dogs. Perhaps that's what I should've said in the first place.

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