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Yes, Victoria, there is a Santa 

All I want for Christmas is my two bare cheeks. I'm talking about the mannequin that used to be on display in the Victoria's Secret window on Higuera. Remember her? The one that looked like she was flossing a part of her that four out of five dentists don't typically check for gingivitis? Looks to me like store officials caved and made her a bit more modest. Too bad. She gave the whole street a healthy dose of much-needed class.

Or is it something else that rhymes with class? Either way, I'm disappointed.

Before you go accusing me of being a male chauvinist, take a deep breath and count to 10. Okay. Now you can call me a male chauvinist. You're wrong, but feel free to call me one anyway. See, it's a free country, and you can call me whatever you want. I don't have to listen, just like passersby didn't have to look at the fake person modeling lingerie, which, I might add, anyone could walk into the store and buy.

For all you know, I might not be a chauvinist at all. I could just be a First Amendment activist who thinks people should be able to advertise how they want to advertise. Yeah, if you twist my arm, I'll admit that I agree with some restrictions on free speech, but I don't think the mannequin's ass was inciting anyone to commit a hate crime.

And, for all you know again, I might not even be a male. I could just be a woman who's confident in her own sexuality and believes that there's nothing wrong with showing what you've got. To be perfectly honest, though, which I always am, I'd kill for that mannequin's body. And I bet she doesn't even have to work for it. Women like her make me sick, and here I am eating nothing but celery at all the holiday parties, just so I can fit into my outfit for the annual Christmas party.

Deborah Cash, executive director of the SLO Downtown Association, mentioned that she associates thongs with footwear, implying that locals wear the sandals, not the underwear.

Well, Victoria's Secret is keeping its doors open somehow, at least partially thanks to the thongs it has for sale. And if you're curious to discover who's buying, just take a walk around the Cal Poly campus when the weather gets warmer. I'm sure you'll spot an elastic band snaking out of the back of some girl's low-cut jeans. If you can't spot any, just grab the nearest guy. He'll point the thongs out for you. In fact, he'll probably tell you the exact location of all the visible thongs within a mile radius, but hey, he's really looking for a girl who's got a great personality and can hold a conversation, right?

To take this conversation to a more abstract level, I'd like to point out that we call thong sandals 'flip-flops" where I come from, which is the planet Earth. Of course, language is in the tongue of the beholder.

Take Fanny Wrappers, for example. It's another downtown SLO lingerie store, though its windows typically have mannequins that sport things like bunches of flowers instead of heads.

Across the pond in England, 'fanny" is slang for, well, I can't say the word in a family paper, even in a column such as this, so I'll just make like a scientist and call it 'the female genitalia."

Of course, in England, they also regularly print pictures of topless women in newspapers, which isn't going to happen in San Luis Obispo, despite my insistence that New Times needs to be a First Amendment pioneer by doing just that. You win some, you lose some.

To cap off this whole tawdry story, someone broke into the underwear emporium and stole some panties and a couple hundred bras on Dec. 2. There's no word yet whether the perpetrators were motivated by an $11,000 profit or were just driven mad with lust by the window display, but police have referred to the thieves as 'gypsy-like," a comment that also pushes the borders of the First Amendment a bit.

Not all gypsies are thieves. Not all women who wear thongs are sluts. Not all cops are bullies. Not all men are pigs. Not all Cal Poly students are vacuous. Not all Shredders want to keep writing.

But, of course, this Shredder will. I'm taking my cue from Steve Diamond, another local who won't give up. He's also another local who thinks that sex isn't the end of the world.

Steve's been entangled in legal problems so often, he smells like red tape. He's had so many free-speech battles, Congress is thinking of adding him as an amendment to the Constitution. But throughout it all, he's never backed down. Whether you agree with his products or not, you have to admire his gumption. He's like the little engine that could, or the ant who stored up food for the winter while the grasshopper fiddled and frittered away the warm weather. He's an inspiration - just ignore the fact that some of what he's selling resembles 'the male genitalia" if you don't go in for that sort of thing.

His most recent debacle is setting him back $10,000, the cost of keeping most of his merchandise right where it currently stands in Grover Beach despite a city ordinance that prohibits businesses from devoting more than a quarter of their floor space to adult products.

I've stated my opinion hundreds of times on the silliness of classifying certain products as 'adult," so I won't do it again now. And don't get me started on my thoughts on people who think that '25 percent" is some sort of magical barrier that contains the nature of sex-related merchandise to a part of a store. In fact, don't get me started on anything else at all.

I am going to keep writing. Just not today.

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