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
DEAR MARY: You are a sweet lady, and while I'm sure the mother in question is trying to be conscientious, she may have overreacted. When I asked for reader input on this -- "thongs up or thongs down" -- I had no idea that thousands of people would take me up on it. My staff and I were buried!
Thongs are so commonplace today they are no longer considered to be a "moral barometer." They are worn by mothers, grandmothers, teachers -- I even received a "thongs up" vote from an ordained minister. The following correspondence should be enlightening. Read on:
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
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.
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
DEAR ABBY: When my oldest child was in kindergarten, his teacher approached me one day and handed me a Ziploc baggie. When I saw my nicely folded black silk thong inside, I nearly fainted.
I had done the laundry the night before, and my thong had velcroed to my son's jacket. He had raised his hand in class asking, "What is this?" My question: Would you rather your child's teacher find big "granny" undies or a thong? (Did I mention this was a Catholic school?) -- RED-FACED IN RENO
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
DEAR ABBY: I vote thongs up. My manicurist's mother -- a woman in her 80s -- recently moved in with her. While doing her mother's laundry, she came across a thong. Shocked, she said, "Mom!" Her mother replied, "I'm not dead yet." -- CAROL IN BURLINGTON, VT.
READERS: Tomorrow the results of my poll -- and we'll hear what male readers said on this subject.