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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014

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Keep your pits smelling pretty - no deodorant required.
Keep your pits smelling pretty - no deodorant required.

The ANTI-antiperspirant

The salty, tangy bouquet of fluorescent orange, liquid processed cheese product oozing on triangles of warm, toasted corn chips decorated with pickled jalapenos wafts relentlessly into my olfactory system.

My stepdaughter and her gaggle of gorgeous teenage girlfriends sit eating stadium concessions in the row of plastic folding chairs ahead of me in the cavernous convention center while "Pomp and Circumstance" fills the air. We are there to watch the class of 2012 as they are bestowed with their high school diplomas.

The girls are more emotional than on a typical day, as several of them are watching their older by one year, senior class boyfriends take one step closer towards college.

A particularly beautiful, charismatic and clever companion of my stepdaughter is directly in front of me – she is one of my favorites for her wildly funny sense of humor. This young lady is the lucky recipient of amazing genetics: 5 feet 10 inches tall, blonde, brains and beauty. The combination belies the teenage insecurity that is flooding out of her at the moment.

The corners of her mouth stained with nacho cheese, she suddenly turns around to whisper sharply to me, her breath filled with the mock-cheesy Mexican treat and tinged with anxiety, "Linds, tell me you have some deodorant with you."

Her nerves had overcome her and she had begun to excrete the damp product of emotion under her arms that terrifies teenagers across the universe because of course, sweat turns into stink. Or so they tell themselves.

I take the moment as a hippie-stepmom-on-a-soapbox moment and tell her that not only do I not carry deodorant with me, but I don't even use it all.

Her eyes go wide with horror. "WHAT, Linds? How is that possible? How do you NOT smell ... bad?"

I explain that the odor associated with sweating is actually caused by breakdown of bacteria from a type of sweat from our fatty sweat glands – the apocrine glands. That particular substance, mixed with hairs and hair follicles in t…

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It's time for these kitchen accessories to return to the spotlight.
It's time for these kitchen accessories to return to the spotlight.

Where have all the aprons gone?

I am rising to an unvoiced challenge: to resurrect the apron as a kitchen necessity and domestic fashion statement once again.

When did the apron stop being as commonplace in the kitchen as a coffeemaker? When did kids stop coming home to moms swathed in floral, frilly frocks? When did wiping your hands on the front of your jeans replace gently smoothing sullied palms along the pleats of a lacey smock?

Perhaps when cooking from scratch was replaced by popping something in the microwave. Possibly around the advent of Oxyclean/Shout! stain removers. Probably when our clothing became so casual it was not worth protecting anymore.

After all, isn't that what an apron is? She is like armor combined with a shield packaged in a sheath of cloth (hopefully printed with a darling pattern) slipped over the neck and tied in a quaint bow around the waist. Better than a tool belt that only carries things, an apron equipped with pockets does double duty to guard you from splatters and acts as storage for any array of ingredients, utensils or electronic devices you wish to have on your person.

How is it even possible that this essential piece of wardrobe has become a kitschy relic of days gone by?

Not in my house.

Throwing one of my darling aprons over even sweats takes my galley style from Sloppy McNasty to classic polished. Or, if I'm wearing something a bit more precious, I count on my cute covering to defend me from splashes and spills.

And not to make anyone feel left out, I do love me a Mapron, Manpron ... whatever you want to call it ... a gent in an apron. Whether he's covered from chest to knee, or from the waist down, an apron-ed torso signals a man on a mission. I smell barbecue.

Feel like the apron has no edge? Channel your inner Donna Reed, your dormant Betty Crocker and add a dash of Betty Page – wear JUST your favorite apron. Suddenly, that quiet little swathe has a bit more allure, a modern update that may add a bit more spice to whatever you've got going on …

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Keep your explosions out of NYC - or else.
Keep your explosions out of NYC - or else.

Stop blowing up NYC

Action movie writers and directors – put up your dukes. I've got a longstanding issue with you blowing up U.S. cities on the big screen – especially when you attempt to nuke New York City.

My irritation with this silver screen charade was documented back in 2008 in a New York Times article that quoted me (via my maiden name) regarding movies' ("I am Legend" and "Cloverfield") cinematic obliteration of the city I spent a great deal of my childhood, teen years and college experience in getting blown to smithereens.

Now, a spontaneous trip to see "The Avengers" last weekend has reignited my loathing of on-screen explosions in the Big Apple.

Understand – nothing thrills me more than repeat rear views of Captain America or gratuitous shots of Thor's biceps beaded with perspiration and riddled with bulging veins as he summons his hammer, but I'm sick and tired of seeing New York City and its monuments ravaged, blown up and destroyed on celluloid. Am I the only one that is sensitive to the fact that this actually, so tragically happened?

The writer of that NYT article, Brooks Barnes, uncovered that obliterating New York City on the big screen is quite purposeful. Turns out foreign markets champ at the bit to see our homeland get its ass kicked. Makes my stomach turn to think that U.S. filmmakers purposefully use negative domestic imagery to make more money in the overseas market.

Call me oversensitive (as I know that's certainly not the worst thing I've been called), but can't we torch a fictional city or some unknown far away place that isn't so familiar? At the very least, perhaps just not paint such a graphic motion picture for America-haters to jerk off to. I want our superheroes to turn their superpowers to good use – to avenge this nasty for-profit habit of American moviemakers.

When did "XOXO" lose its innocence?
When did "XOXO" lose its innocence?

The "XOXO" debacle

This actually happened – just not to me. (Yet.)

Weeks ago, a married, female friend of mine sent out a mass text wishing everyone in her phone a "Happy Easter! XOXO"

A few moments later, my friend's phone rang with the irate wife of a work colleague on the other end.

"Whose phone is this?" the fuming spouse demanded.

My friend explained and the wife inquired, "Why are you sending my husband XOXO's?"

The conversation escalated, threats were hollered and things ended un-amicably. The husband called my friend apologetically. But, the damage had been done – all with a few characters in a text that don't even spell a word, but imply something much deeper for some people.

Admittedly, this could happen to me at any moment. I abuse the "XOXO" on a daily basis.

I sign emails, texts to both sexes and even pantomime my beloved signature in conversations – drawing "XOXO" with my pointer finger in the air.

To me, these letters mean "hugs and kisses." However, this is more of a quick wrap of the arms around the receiver's body and a peck on the cheek. Not a passionate, drawn-out embrace followed by tongue.

My intention is never sexual with this salutation, but more a signal of affection to those who receive it from me.

If you get an "XXX" from me – that's a different story.

I recently went to a band's website – they offer free downloads of their albums signed, "XO." Does that mean they are including a free make-out session with every download? Well, maybe – they are a band after all.

So, what do you think? Has "XOXO" lost its innocence? If so, I better stop using it with my brother, male friends (especially the married ones) and colleagues of either sex.

I am clamoring to know, when did "XOXO" become a sext?

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