Published Sunday, Dec. 3, 2000 in The Miami Herald

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$8.95 plus shipping and handling from NipGuards, 2232 S. Main St., #361, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48103, 734-528-3555, fax 734-528-2892, Internet: www.nipguards.com

Suggested by Peter Wray of Columbus, Ohio.

Most Americans frankly do not give enough thought to nipple protection. Or, if they do, they never say anything about it to us.

Why is nipple protection important? For a graphic answer to that question, take a gander at the official NipGuards website, www.NipGuards.com There you will see dramatic color photographs of a long-distance runner before and after he started using NipGuards. In the before picture, you can clearly see that -- get ready -- his nipples are bleeding. We don't believe that any thinking person can look at these photographs and not realize that ''Bleeding Nipples'' would be an excellent name for a rock band.

The NipGuards website also features endorsements and testimonials from runners, including the following, which we swear we are not making up:

''Thanks to NipGuards I no longer have to worry about cracked, achy, bloody nipples. Gone are the days when I dreaded taking my shirt off in front of others. I took a trip down to Florida recently and was pleasantly surprised that the salt water did not burn them. This is the first time in years that they have not burned! Thanks NipGuards for giving me back my nipples!''

We believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said, ''There is no greater gift than to give a man back his nipples.'' And so we believe that NipGuards would be a wonderful gift for that ''special guy'' on your list -- even if he's not a runner! He might be simply the kind of man who prefers to keep his nipples covered at the beach or swimming pool, thus surrounding himself with an aura of mystery and suave debonairehood that has attractive women excitedly whispering: ''I wonder what his nipples look like!''

It is an open secret in Hollywood that Brad Pitt purchases this item by the gross.

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