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Dear Cheryl,

In response to your June 5 column: Yes, more and more men are thinking about their underwear these days. There are so many options! I would think that most women must be loving all the styles, fabrics and colors that are available to choose from. Plus, it's fun, sexy and exciting to wear something other than boring white boxers or briefs. Do women care about a man's underwear?

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-- Curious in Baltimore

Dear Curious:

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Do fish swim? Is Ed Burns the hottest man alive? Are Pam Anderson's goods fake?

Hello? The answer to all those questions -- and yours -- is YES! (Well, No. 2 is a "Yes" in my book anyway.)

You can worry all you want about buying flowers, choosing a nice restaurant, picking the right wine at dinner. But all of that amounts to nada if the undies are questionable.

Some basics: Dirty or worn-out knickers? A turn-off. Cutesy patterns? "Loser!"

A few "experts" shared my thoughts on your question. "Is he kidding? A bad pair of men's briefs can make it a very 'brief' affair indeed," said Cindy Chupack, writer/executive producer of Sex and the City, whose new season began recently. "There's nothing less sexy than a saggy pair of tighty whities. There's a reason they call them tighty whities, so once they're not tighty anymore, throw them out!"

"Those cotton short briefs can be very sexy; however, they have the disadvantage of being shown on billboards with airbrushed underwear models, so it's hard for a normal guy to compete," she added. "Regular boxers can be good, but don't pick up any old pair and expect them to get the same results. It's hard to get excited by someone with fishing lures on his boxers. Did he pick those? Did someone pick them for him? Why fishing lures? He doesn't even fish.

"And anything too cute -- hearts -- suggests it was given to you by another girlfriend," she concluded, "which is a definite underwear faux pas."

Riann Smith, senior articles editor for Cosmopolitan, noted that women generally don't go out of their way to notice men's underwear, however.

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"Unless they're staring at a Calvin Klein billboard, and it's on a tasty underwear model," she said. "But we do take note if the underwear is bad."

But she stressed that women do pick up cues from men's underwear. "No. 1 -- holes and stretched-out elastic," she said. "Even the best pairs of boxers or briefs get the thumbs down from women if they have holes or warped waistbands. If he doesn't take care of the threads closest to [him], you've got to wonder how much he's going to focus on pleasing you. It screams low maintenance. Get ready for a lot of Chinese take-out."

"Happy faces, hearts, beer slogans and other obnoxious prints -- bad," she added. "Guys may think they're giving a 'fun, up for anything' vibe when they wear these, but they wind up looking like a circus act. They should pay less attention to getting exciting boxers and more attention to exciting their women in bed."

There you have it. Bottom line: It's not always the gift wrap that counts, guys.


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