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Dear Ms. Feet,

When it comes to fashion I will be the first to admit that I am a bit of a geek - and so I usually bow to what I perceive to be my girlfriend's better judgement. However, sometimes a man just has to draw a line in the sand and we have reached an impasse on the crucial issue of men's swim wear. The question is: Briefs or Speedo? I have a good physique and prefer not having all the excess material slowing me down while I am swimming. My girlfriend says my Speedo is "gross." I think that if it's okay for her to show her assets in a string bikini, it's okay for me to show mine as well. Is she right? Are tight-fitting swimsuits on men really considered gross?

As a fellow fashion geek, I am not sure I am fully qualified to answer your question -- but I will give it my best shot.

I spend a lot of time on the beach and have certainly noticed that when a man in an athletic-type suit (or it's skimpier cousin, the male T-back) saunters by, all sandcastling activity pretty much grinds to a halt, jaws drop and much giggling and elbowing ensue. This seems to happen regardless of the man's physique, though if he is portly in stature he is more likely to elicit groans and statements along the lines of "that's gross!" Furthermore, it seems that - fairly or unfairly - a man in a tight suit is more likely to have his sexual preferences questioned then is one in briefs.

So, what's a straight guy with a good physique and a preference for tight bathing suits to do? If the bulges are in the right places; if you can look in the mirror without grimacing; and if you are secure in your masculinity -- I say damn the torpedos and wear the Speedos. Still not sure? Then you may want to send me a photo of yourself in the suit and let me reflect upon it for a while so I can give you a more qualified assessment. In the meantime, I shall be collecting more opinions concerning this important issue in my latest web-poll (see below.)

Dear sandy,

I'm new to Texas, and my family, (Husband, four kids under age 13, Grandma and Grandpa) want to make a trip to the beach this summer.

Is Padre Island, or South Padre Island the place to go??

AND - could you advise on HOW we go about (since we are TOTALLY unfamiliar with the area) finding a "family" oriented part of the area? We want something nice, of course, but not in the thick of the singles, bar-hopping, wet t-shirt contest area....(those days are long past!)

First of all, forget about the north end of the Island. Restaurant and lodging choices are extremely limited, the water in not as pretty, the people aren't as friendly and you won't find anyone who can give you and the kiddies a private sandcastling lesson north of the Mansfield Cut.

South Padre Island in the summer is very much a family-oriented vacation destination.The scene you are describing may be difficult to escape during the month of March, but after spring break is over the party animals and families are able to peacefully coexist. Just tell any one of our friendly condo rental agents that you would prefer a unit away from the entertainment district and s/he will fix you right up.

You will still want to head over to the bay for the Friday night fireworks, of course -- but they are scheduled early enough (9:15) so that the kids can be safely tucked into their beds long before the night owls start hooting and hollering. And if your condo is right on the beach, you and hubby can enjoy a quiet nightcap on the balcony with only the sounds of the waves lapping on the sand and the moon rising over the water to distract you.

Feet's Totally Non-Scientific Just For Fun Net Poll Results: My most recent question focused on the spring wind and how to best deal with it - and here are the results: Defy it by ignoring it - (46.2%); Go windsurfing - (38.5%); Go fly a kite - (7.7%); Sit inside and whine about it - (7.7%)

Sandy Asks: This one is aimed at my female visitors, but men are certainly invited to participate as well. The topic is men's swimwear and your choices are as follows: A) Speedos are okay - but only on guys sporting the buffest of builds; B) Buff or no, Speedos are gross; C) Swimwear selection is a very personal thing; comfort - not style - should be the deciding factor; or D) My favorite swimwear is the kind you don't see on the clothing optional beaches. Vote today at http://spionline.com/polls.html .

One more thing: With any luck (and a decent internet connection) I will be posting next month's column from sunny Italy, where I am headed to build a sand sculpture at an international contest in Jesolo. I invite you to join me on my journey at http://sandyfeet.com/italy where I will attempt to post daily updates.

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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