I went through the pile of notes, newspapers and pictures I keep next to my writing desk and discovered that comics from the daily newspapers are my No. 2 source of inspiration. The No. 1 source comes from another section of the paper: lingerie ads.

Imagine that.

You’re thinking, “Oh, Dave…we don’t have to imagine. We know you well enough to say, ‘Of course you have a pile of lingerie ads sitting right next to your writing desk.’” And I’m thinking, “Hey—what about the comics?”

I’m as big a fan as the next guy of pictures of women in their underwear, but after taking a closer look—a much, much closer look—I’ve discovered a deeper theme in the scraps of paper I saved. Let’s see if you can guess what it is.

• A Kohl’s department store ad showing a woman wearing Flexees Easy Up Strapless Bodybriefer.

• Another Kohl’s ad showing a woman in a Flexees Take Inches Off Wear Your Own Bra Firm Control Slip.

• Yet a third ad, from Sears, of a woman in a Rene Rofe Mesh Flyaway Babydoll and G-string Set.

A Mr. Boffo comic in which one woman says, “Here comes Babette in the tiniest, topless, backless, frontless, see-through string…” and another woman says, “…sandals.” And the cutline says, “Buildup for a Letdown of the Week award.”

An Arlo & Janis in which Gene’s bride-to-be, Mary Lou, tells him to tell his mom the wedding will be “dressy casual,” but he tells her “to dress casual.”

Did you guess the theme? It’s…wait…I need to check out that baby doll thing again. Oh, yeah, it’s how men and women speak in different languages. At least when it comes to clothes.

No—really! There is no male equivalent of the “Flexees Take Inches Off Wear Your Own Bra Firm Control Slip.” If you’re a woman, though, you probably have a good idea what this is just from the description. If you’re a guy…well, if you’re a guy, you have a pretty good idea what that baby doll thing looks like.

And I’m guessing that a woman who reads “Flexees Easy Up Strapless Bodybriefer” focuses on “easy” or “bodybriefer,” or maybe “strapless” if she’s got a special occasion, like a wedding, coming up. Even so, “strapless” doesn’t mean the same thing to her as it does to the guy sitting next to her in the pew.

That Boffo strip illustrates exactly what I mean. Show a man the words “tiniest, topless, backless, frontless, see-through” and “string” all in a row like that and he’ll free-associate the word “sandals” exactly zero times out of a hundred. Maybe even a thousand.

Dressy casual? I don’t have a clue. But, believe me, ninety-nine guys out of a hundred would look at that strip and say, “Where’s the joke?”

So this is what I’m up against as I continue to wade deeper into Malibu Bride, the sequel to Palm Springs Heat. I have a bunch of female characters who have to be wearing clothes. At least some of the time. But what are those clothes called? How do I describe them?

And does wearing a “Flexees Take Inches Off Wear Your Own Bra Firm Control Slip” make a woman feel like she’s hot? Or is it something she would wear to work? ’Cause I gotta tell ya, to my male brain, the woman in that ad is all business.

If you know what I mean.

P.S. Thanks to all you ManWARriors who helped out in the great Palm Springs Heat giveaway last week. We made it to the top of a couple of charts in the U.S. and the U.K. And speaking of which, here’s a link to Palm Springs Heat in the Amazon store U.K.

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