It was Christmas and I was in love, which I guess explains why I didn't storm out when I opened a gift box from my then-boyfriend to find a thong and $200 cash. Yes, cash.To be fair, the money was for a plane ticket (our romance was long distance) and the hundreds were crisp and fresh, but the unfortunate combination read more "Slip these bills into your G-string and shimmy" than "I love you just the way you are." The style of the thong didn't help: black, high-rise, accented with mesh. He said his brother helped him pick it out.

When I told the story to my friends months later, after we'd broken up, they seemed to be most outraged about the money. But it was that trashy thong that got to me, and not just because the mesh chafed. He had made it clear that he wanted to see me in more thongs (I was going through a full-seat stage, what can I say?), so he used the gift to get his way. It was just an excuse to make me over, while the cash said, "Oh yeah, and I thought of this plan at the mall yesterday."

Sex is intimidating sometimes, and the pressure to be sexy can lead to awkwardness. In the end, my ex and I were both awkward at being sexy, at least with each other. That Christmas, to be honest, I didn't do much better. Along with a David Gray CD and enough candles to start a wildfire, I gave him a copy of Sex for Dummies wrapped in a pair of flashy gold underwear. Dummies indeed.

What Do You Think?