QUIVER. Sexual Debut Stories. By Lisa Ellex

QUIVER. Sexual Debut Stories. By Lisa Ellex

. 40 min read

Who made YOU Quiver? PrimeCrush columnist Lisa Ellex wants to know. Just whisper it in her ear and your “first-time” story could be the inspiration for her next Quiver column. Anonymity a concern? She'll change your name, location, and any other piece of identifying info, just like they do in the witness protection program. Except you don't have to move. So if you want to Quiver with us, contact lisaellex@gmail.com

Mariana

My Brooklyn neighborhood of the 1960s and 70s produced a tight-knit group of kids. We were a gang of miniatures who walked to school and church together, did homework together, played street games and, when the street lights came on in the evening, we’d walk each other home.  As romances sprung up during adolescence, we paired off with our crushes. Some of us even paired off for life.  Such was the plan for me and Joe. 

Two years my senior, Joe was handsome, funny, gentle, and kind. From a young age, Joe could fix anything; a talent I witnessed first hand when I took a tumble from my bike one Saturday morning after my bicycle chain had snapped. Sitting on the ground examining a bruised and bloody knee, I felt someone lifting me up from behind. It was Joe.  He dusted me off, picked up my bike, and propped it up with the kickstand. After giving it a serious examination, he walked to his own bicycle and, from a small leather pouch attached to the back of his seat, produced a small tool kit. In less than 15 minutes, Joe repaired my chain and sent me on my way.  After that day, I paid close attention to the 12-year-old Mr. Fix-It and held every boy in the neighborhood to a high standard. Joe was, by far, the front-runner.  

When Joe was a high school sophomore, his woodshop teacher noticed his skills and arranged for him to join the co-op program at a neighborhood trade school. This was a type of internship that enabled high school students to get career training with pay. When my parents decided to renovate our cramped kitchen during the stifling summer before I entered high school, they hired Joe to do the cabinet and carpentry work.  With no air conditioning in the kitchen, Joe would sweat through his tee shirt by 11am.  From the front row seat of our kitchen table, I would suffer the heat and linger over my breakfast while pretending to be doing my summer reading, all the while studying the various muscles of Joe’s back as they rippled and flexed with each swing of the hammer.  When my mother caught on to what I was doing, I was banished to breakfasts on the front stoop for the remainder of the renovation.

By the time school started, Joe and I had become “an item” or, as the old ladies in the neighborhood referred to it, we were “keeping company.” Though I was 14 and Joe was 16,  he courted me as if we were adults. Generous with his earnings and always a gentleman, he would take me out every weekend; movies, roller skating, the beach, restaurants, and our beloved “Jahn’s” ice cream parlor. I was the envy of my freshman class.

When Joe got his driver’s license, we began “parking” at the neighborhood “lover’s lane” as so many kids our age were doing. We never engaged in anything beyond light petting, but I could sense Joe wanted more. Soon enough, we had the talk that most Brooklyn girls had with their boyfriends: marrying after high school graduation. Joe was all in.  With a job with a local cabinet maker waiting for him after graduation, his plan was to live at home and save enough money for a house. We were children making grown-up plans.  

Then, just before Christmas, plans changed. Joe received a letter that he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War.  Though my world felt like it was crumbling, Joe seemed excited.  He was honored. In his heart of hearts, he believed he would return unharmed and we would marry and start a family. 

Christmas day at Joe’s house was a teary one. Though everyone did their best to carry on as if it were a regular Christmas, a sadness hung over us all. I gifted Joe a medal of Saint Michael to protect him in battle and, through my tears, fastened it around his neck.  His mother and aunt bawled, and even his father got teary and excused himself from the room. Then, Joe presented me with a small box. Inside was a modest diamond ring. Joe called it “a bookmark” to keep his place in our story until his return.  I, of course, had every intention of doing just that, “bookmark” or not.

Driving home that night, Joe and I attempted to enjoy the Brooklyn tradition of touring the neighborhood to admire the homes elaborately decorated with colorful lights, nativity scenes, Christmas trees, and every holiday motif one could imagine.  With the snow beginning to fall, this was the perfect Christmas moment, but the moment turned somber as we realized we would not be taking this tour next Christmas, or even the Christmas after that.  

When we made our usual stop at our parking spot, I was not at all surprised when Joe asked that we “go all the way”. I wanted so badly to please him but I was terrified. And even though our time together was running out, I did not feel ready. Knowing I was hesitant, he coaxed me, verbally and physically, sexually teasing more so than usual. Aroused, I agreed, telling myself that this act of love would guarantee that Joe returned safe and sound.  So, on my back, through my tears, I focused on Joe’s beautiful face and the snow that fell on the windshield behind him, all the while wishing he would stop, yet somehow, never wanting this moment to end.

In the two years that Joe was away, not one day passed that I did not write a letter to him.  Not one. On average, letters from Joe arrived every ten days, but there was a particularly long stretch that I did not hear from him. I cried myself to sleep during those nights, worried that the worst had happened. Finally, a letter arrived. When I opened it, a photograph fell to the floor.  In it, Joe was sitting in a chair, smiling and smoking a cigarette.  I had never seen him smoke before. Then, on the floor behind him, I noticed a pair of women’s shoes.  I ran the gamut of emotions. It was the first photo I received from Joe and I so badly wanted to share it with my friends but I was too embarrassed for them to know that the boy I gave my virginity to was cheating on me. I hid the photo in the back of my jewelry box, locked it, and kept the key in my wallet.

Junior year came and I joined the co-op program at my school. Two days each week I took the train to a Manhattan brokerage firm where, for the first time, I saw that the world was so much bigger than Brooklyn. Men wore suits everyday. I felt an energy there I had not felt before and I knew this was where I wanted to be. As graduation neared, the firm offered me a good-paying position.  I accepted.

Joe came home to neighborhood fanfare, and a girlfriend who was now an independent working woman. Joe, too, was different. There was a hardness about him that made him almost unrecognizable to me.  He took that job with the local cabinet maker, and wanted us to pick up where we left off.  I wanted more. I got up the nerve to ask about the shoes in the photo.  He said he had no idea how they got there or to whom they belonged. I returned his “bookmarker.” He was crushed.  He stopped speaking to me. When he saw me in the neighborhood, he would look the other way. It was not at all how I imagined our ending.

I’m not sure what happened to Joe’s photo or to the jewelry box that concealed it, but I recently came across that key.  Though rusted and small, it locked away such big secrets. I held it in my hand and considered keeping it, then tossed it in the trash, letting go of what we both tried to hide for so long.

Gianni

Gianni is a sixty-something-year-old marketing executive, living with his wife in an affluent New Jersey suburb.

I can’t remember not loving her. Mornings began with her, as she joined me and my sister when we passed her apartment building on our walk to school. Petite with delicate features, her long, brown hair always smelled like the original Clairol Herbal Essence Shampoo. She and my sister were two years my senior and, when they were together, they forgot I existed. Being ignored had its advantages. No one noticed how I hung on to her every word, or stole glances of her perfect face. She was “Penny,” my sister Cheri’s best friend. We lived on opposite corners of the same street but Penny was a fixture in our home. On any given day, she would be in our house, doing homework or listening to records with my sister. She stayed for dinner so often that the chair next to my sister’s was known as “Penny’s chair.” She lived in a five-story walk-up with just her mom who worked as a secretary in the banquet department of The Waldorf Astoria Hotel. When her mom arrived home late in the evening, she would bring Penny dessert – a gift from the hotel’s pastry chef – and mother and daughter would chat over their treats before Penny went off to bed. Anything left over would be the next day’s breakfast.

Our block was a wonderland; a tree-lined, city street inhabited in large part by working class Italian-Americans. From my bedroom window, I had a bird’s eye view of the neighborhood park. The magnificent stretch of baseball field was framed on two sides by stone bleachers. To the east of the field was a handball court, to the north a bocce ball court. In the summer, an enormous swimming pool opened to the public and, late at night, I’d watch the neighborhood kids hop the fence for a forbidden moonlight swim. I spent every afternoon in that park until my mother would call, “Dinner time!” from our kitchen window. Each night before saying my prayers, I’d survey the park grounds from my bedroom window, making note of which neighborhood kids were sneaking cigarettes or how many young lovers were making out. After prayers, I’d fall asleep by the glow of the enormous city streetlight that poured through my window. Life was good.

When I entered sixth grade, Penny and Cheri were applying to high schools and I was already mourning walking to school without Penny. When the acceptance letters arrived, my brilliant sister made all four of her choices. Penny was accepted to just two, neither being the girls’ first-choice. They were so devastated about going off to different schools that, in consolation, my mother invited Penny to spend the summer with us at our shore house– a period I will forever refer to as “The Season of Torture.” With her body in full bloom, Penny spent sunup to sundown in a bikini, and I spent three entire months attempting to conceal my perpetual state of arousal.

For better or worse, the summer flew by. My sister made new friends and Penny had not been to our home in months. My walks to school were sad and lonely, until the morning when I approached Penny’s stoop and noticed a bleached blonde woman rummaging through her purse. When the woman looked up, I realized it was Penny. With her garish new hair color, and her natural beauty obscured by blush and eyeliner, she was a cheapened version of herself. If not for the scent of Herbal Essence shampoo, I would not have believed it was her.

“Where ya’ going, pipsqueak?” she said. I could feel my face cracking a smile, but I couldn’t speak. “Come on. I’ll walk you to school.”

Penny asked how I was liking seventh grade, then confessed that she often skipped her first class because, “8 AM is just too early to learn anything.” She told me if I kept this a secret – even to my sister – she’d walk me to school on those days she cut first period. And so, for the next two years, I was Penny’s young confidant and confessor. I was intrigued at first, but hearing of her many dating adventures made me sad, jealous, angry, and even concerned. I wanted to save her. I wanted her to be mine.

High school kept me busy with new friends and new activities and I had not seen Penny since June. One cold December night when performing my bedtime survey of the park, I noticed a couple in an embrace. I wondered when it would be my turn to be that guy on the bleachers – to know intimacy – and I continued to study the couple. Suddenly, the girl stepped back. The two began to argue. The girl tried to get away but the boy grabbed her arm. From my window, I could hear her crying. It was Penny! Without thinking, I flew out of our apartment and into the cold, wearing only pajamas and slippers. As I ran into the park, the boy fled, and Penny fell into my chest, sobbing. With my arms around her, we walked to my apartment to find my mother and sister waiting in the kitchen. Penny took her chair as if no time had passed, and my mom made us hot cocoa and talked to us about what true love really is. Then, she made up the couch for Penny to spend the night.

In a deep sleep, I rolled over in my twin bed to find Penny lying by my side. As I took in the scent of her hair and studied her smeared mascara, she opened her eyes and brought her hand to my face. “Thank you,” she whispered. Then, very softly, she kissed me. Without a word, she slipped off her panties, took my hand in hers, and placed it between her legs. After pulling down my pajama bottoms she climbed on top of me and slowly, gently, moved up and down without a sound. And in the glow of the street light that poured through my window, Penny was mine.

We didn’t speak a word about that night for many years, not until I finished college and became a working man. Penny became a nurse and quite an extraordinary woman. With my parents retired to our shore house, Cheri became the keeper of our wonderful family apartment, and godmother to the children of her best friend, my beautiful wife, Penny.

Phil

Phil is a career librarian living and working in a small Northeast town. After decades of dysfunction and isolation, he discovers love – and passion – in the dawn of his 60th year.

I never knew my father. I was raised in the very house where my mother was raised by her own mother, my grandmother. We had no money, no car, no comforts and, because Mother was an occasional recluse who I spent most of my life looking after, I had no friends. It was a co-dependent upbringing in the style of Gray Gardens, minus the humor and celebrity connection.

Mother and I spent Saturday afternoons using our food stamps at the local supermarket. Saturday evenings consisted of reviewing the latest edition of TV Guide to select our entertainment for the week. We lived in a world of pre-cable television and movies featured on Million Dollar Movie (old RKO films that ran twice a night for a week), The 4:30 Movie (ran Monday through Friday), and various game shows and series that we viewed on the 1972 Zenith TV that belonged to my Grandmother. I’m sure Grandma never imagined that her legacy – and my only escape – would be my daydreams of romance and swank lifestyles depicted in those old Hollywood films delivered via her Zenith.

On those Sundays when we were able to get a ride, Mother would pause her reclusivity to attend church, followed by coffee hour with our fellow parishioners. I always looked forward to spending time with them, as their smiles and kind words strengthened me for the dreadfully lonely school week ahead. The only classmate who ever spoke to me at lunchtime was Noreen, a sweet girl with the face of sunshine who was also from a single parent home. Kind as she was, I became invisible to her once she found a boyfriend. When I relayed Noreen’s good fortune to mother, she told me Noreen would probably be pregnant soon – or get a venereal disease – because that’s what happens to people the first time they have sex. If her intention was to terrify me, she succeeded.

After high school, I was happy to take a part-time job at our local library where I was able to save up enough money to matriculate at our university. It was there that my advisor identified my Asperger Syndrome and taught me some important life skills. Following graduation, the library hired me full-time and I will soon be celebrating my 45th year of employment. I truly love my job and being of service to the community.

One Sunday at church, I noticed a petite blonde woman with a kind face. Each time I would look her way she would be looking at me, smiling. After the service, she approached me in the coffee room. “Don’t you remember me, Phil? I’m Noreen.” And at that very moment, I felt like someone had turned the lights on for the first time. My beautiful friend from high school still had the face of sunshine and it was beaming on me! Just as she was sharing the news of her recent divorce and how she was living down the street with her twelve-year-old son, Mother sidled up to us and introduced herself. Noreen was polite and cheerful. Mother was not.

That week, I counted the minutes until the next Sunday, hoping I would see Noreen again. I indeed saw her that Sunday and for many Sundays after that, as we would go out for breakfast after church. We would even be joined by her son on the weekends when he was not with his father.

One day after church, Noreen offered to cook us breakfast instead of going out. Her home was perfect and so was her cooking. After breakfast, we sat at the table for a long time and talked while holding hands. Then, Noreen stood up and, still holding my hand, walked me to her bedroom. Afraid that my performance would be a disappointment to her, I admitted that I had never been with a woman and was not sure what I was supposed to do. “Just do what I do,” Noreen said. She kissed me. I kissed her back. It was exactly like in the movies. I even think I heard background music! Noreen unbuttoned my shirt. I unbuttoned hers. We kissed some more. She unzipped my pants. I unzipped hers. More kissing. Before I knew it, we were both naked and under the bed covers. Noreen told me to stay on my back and let her do the rest. Before long she was on top of me, taking full control. Looking up at her, at her breasts, her face, I had never seen a more beautiful sight. Or felt a more beautiful feeling.

The months that followed were a mix of difficulty and bliss. Noreen and I were now a couple but Mother refused to accept her. Would not even let her in our house. With Mother’s health failing, I divided my time between Noreen’s place, my job, and home, always making sure that Mother’s needs were met. That winter, Mother passed away. After the funeral, Noreen entered my house for the very first time. She marveled at the 1972 Zenith and turned it on. Oddly, Mother’s favorite movie – Citizen Kane – was playing. We sat down to watch it and, right in the middle of the famous “Rosebud” scene, the screen went black. For good.

Noreen has said that she often marks time by the birth of her son, dividing her life into pre-baby and post-baby eras. I divide my life into the dark days of pre-Noreen, and the sunshine days that began the day she re-entered my life.

It was worth every awful year.

Sam

Sam is a professional musician in their late-twenties, living and working in a major U.S. city.

I spent four years of high school begrudgingly listening to my classmates' stories of hooking up; girls with boys, girls with girls, boys with boys, and various combinations of those pairings. Even as a teenager, I found these conversations to be shallow, as the act of sex was discussed, ad nauseam, with little mention of emotion or romance.

Though I did my best to be a part of the dialogue, my sexual inexperience left me with little to contribute to these conversations. When I finally confessed to my friends that I had never had a sexual encounter of any kind, they branded me “virgin.” I defensively explained that my rigorous academic schedule, extracurricular activities, 45-minute commute to school, and my part-time job left no time for a relationship, casual or otherwise. The truth was, the teenage me was desperate for some kind of connectedness, if only I could find where I fit in.

When it was time for college, I went away to a well-known school in a major city, still wearing the label of “virgin.” My roommate was anything but. Her weekends were a revolving door of hook-ups, on and off-campus, and I found myself alone most of the time. Weekend after weekend, I suffered in solitude. Still, I found it impossible to get close to anyone.

Sometime during the second semester, a dude in my Psych class started giving me a lot of attention. Eventually, he let it be known that he wanted to sleep with me. He was nice enough, but I had no desire to be physical with him. As freshman year was coming to a close, I didn’t want to return home wearing my “virgin” label and so I agreed to hook up with the dude. The experience was unremarkable, at best, and I was left feeling confused and even lonelier than before.

I went home for the summer and took a job in an arthouse movie theater. Spending hot and humid days in air-conditioned comfort, I was introduced to the films of Fellini, Rossellini, Bergman, and Wertmuller. Though I was grateful for the experience, I discovered that watching love, passion, and desire play out before me on a seventy-foot screen left me feeling even more isolated. I began to dread the idea of returning to school, knowing that kids would be pairing off as casually as they ordered coffee.

On what was reported as the hottest day of the year, just minutes before the midnight show was to start, in walked Bebe. You couldn’t help but notice them because they looked like they got dressed in the dark and didn’t own a hair brush. Except for crimson lipstick that seemed to never wear off, they didn’t wear a stitch of makeup. Though we shared no physical resemblance, I felt looking at Bebe was like looking at my own reflection in a mirror. As I counted out Bebe’s change and handed them a ticket, they confessed that they were seeing the film only to escape the heat of the un-air-conditioned hostel they were staying in that week.

After the movie, Bebe asked where they could get a burger. I directed them to the 24-hour diner and they asked if I would join them. We talked until the sun came up. Bebe was about to begin their second year at a design school that was just minutes away from my own college! That night in the diner, we discovered that we had other things in common: we shared the same zodiac sign, the same love of cold French fries with mustard, and the same struggles with the physical connection. I was smitten.

Bebe came to every midnight showing for the rest of the week. Afterward, we would go to the same diner and talk until dawn. On their last night in town, Bebe divulged that they had never had a sexual experience of any kind. They described themself as “romantic-asexual-bisexual” – one who experiences romantic feelings for all genders but does not engage in sex.

“Yes! Yes, that’s me!” I blurted out.
“Are you my person?” they asked.
“I believe I am,” I answered.

Then, Bebe reached across the table and put their hand on mine.

We met up again the next night and made arrangements to take the train back to school together. Over the next year, we spent most of our time spooning in the twin bed of Bebe’s tiny off-campus apartment and falling in love. This would be the extent of our physical intimacy, aside from holding hands and kissing.

Today, Bebe and I are still together, living in an open, romantic-asexual-bisexual relationship. In my mind, it will always be Bebe – not the dude from my freshman year Psych class – who is the recipient of my virginity, for they are the first person to receive the thing I cherished most: my pure and loving heart.

Leda

Leda is a GenX’er in a creative field, living in the greater NYC area.

We were the popular kids in high school, sort of John-Hughes-Central-Casting stereotypes, maybe Some Kind of Wonderful meets Pretty in Pink. At the time we were growing up, there weren’t too many incredibly wealthy areas of town—but Frankie grew up there, with the rich kids. Me, I was raised at the bottom of the hill on the opposite side of our town in a very proud, hard-working family. We only met in high school, where all the middle schools merged. In typical high-school fashion, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know it was true that kids from opposite sides of the tracks sometimes really didn’t blend well. It feels ridiculous to think of how petty and sometimes cruel kids could be about the dumbest things, like money, but then I remember that adults can behave badly for the very same reasons.

I can’t remember when we started dating…I think it was the beginning of our second semester of sophomore year. Until then, Frankie and I had only known each other by passing glances in the halls and in the lunchroom. I’m guessing that’s why he picked me. All the girls wanted to be with Frankie, including, apparently, some of the girls in my small circle of friends. I didn’t know this until Frankie asked me out, and it seemed to cause a major rift. I asked one of them, “What’s wrong with Sarah?” and Jessie responded, “Didn’t you know? She’s been waiting for Frankie to ask her out for months!” Looking back, I suppose Sarah couldn’t have known what she didn’t know, either. Frankie had his sights set on me and only me.

After several months of dating, one April afternoon, I’d made plans to take the second half of the school day off to celebrate Frankie’s 16th birthday (he was a month older than me). This was not parental-approved, but extremely well planned. We were skipping, basically. I’d never done anything like that before. His parents would be out of the house for the day and we were going to party (we hoped) alone. We hadn’t had sex yet. I’d bought him a bottle of Drakkar Noir as a birthday present, but the real gift was going to be my virginity.

We skipped school that afternoon by cabbing it to his house on the hill, a large, majestic home with white columns outside. I can’t remember which gift came first, but I do remember him being so loving and caring with me. I don’t remember the pleasure, but I know there was no pain. I immediately found the intimacy exhilaratingly addictive. I loved having him so close. I remember him not realizing I was a virgin until it was over. I remember he was equal parts distressed and flattered. I’m sure, to this day, it’s a birthday he’ll never forget.

That summer I felt like we were living on a cloud, stereotypically stealing away, spending time in his parents’ basement with a hell of a lot of heavy petting. But on the outside, our friends were very opposed to us being together, for reasons clouded in dishonesty. There was a lot of jealousy, but I do think, to some degree, they were doing both of us a gigantic favor. The more I learned about Frankie, the more stereotypical he became. He was sweet with me, but when he was with his friends, he was getting into some serious rich-kid trouble, and, it seemed, was both doing cocaine and (allegedly) a runner for a cocaine dealer. I didn’t like this, and had asked him to stop, for fear he’d compromise his future. Any teen can have a drug habit, but I didn’t fully comprehend that, at least back then in my little town, the rich kids didn’t suffer consequences quite the same way as the poorer ones. By the time I’d met Frankie, he’d done some truly awful things and had got caught many times. Turns out, he simply couldn’t behave himself, but there was always someone somewhere to help bail him out and assure he stayed on an Ivy-League track.

By the time we’d started our Junior year, things had completely fallen apart for us. Little did I know, that my “close” friends had been hanging out with him and his friends, with me somehow excluded, likely because those plans always included getting wasted. I wouldn’t do that, because I felt it only encouraged Frankie’s dependencies. We argued a lot about this. Long story short, after they’d all gotten closer, he ended up asking one of my friends out behind my back. She said yes. Then he ended things with me. The experience left me, somehow, cast out of my little group. In the end, I suppose I no longer fit in anywhere. It was a rough experience, with horrible betrayal on both sides. While it’s always better to know the truth about people’s character in the long run, all these years later—after so much love and life—the whole experience still stings.

You won’t believe this, but I have actually seen Frankie since then. Sometime in college, we met up, and we slept together again. A few times. The magic of those early days was still there. Though the details will never be completely confirmed, I later found out he was seeing someone else at the time. No, he hadn’t changed much. But I have zero regrets about Frankie being my first. In that way—and that way only—he set me up for a lifetime of love.

Luis.

Luis is a recently retired school psychologist who enjoys playing music and traveling with his partner of twenty years. They live happily together in a New Jersey suburb.

I spent my childhood avoiding sports. I dreaded the competition, aggression, and occasional violence. Concerned that I was not socializing, my mother urged me to join the school band and, in what I can only describe as the quintessential theatrical moment, I encountered Bernard.

It was our first day of rehearsal for a school production of “Guys and Dolls” and I was playing the trumpet. The actor playing Sky had not arrived and was replaced with a stand-in. The director cued the stand-in, then cued the orchestra, when out of nowhere a thin but muscular boy burst through the auditorium doors, ran up the aisle, jumped onto the stage, and broke into Sky’s song without missing a beat. He was wild and beautiful and immensely talented and I couldn’t take my eyes from him. After rehearsal, the boy approached the orchestra, apologized for being late, and thanked us for playing. Then, he gave me a wink, turned, and disappeared.

Until that day, I never thought about boys in the romantic sense. I thought about girls when masturbating but was always hesitant to ask one on a date for fear of being rejected. I spent that weekend dreaming about that boy’s wink and wondered, just who was this shining star?

Monday morning. I put on my best shirt and even blow-dried my hair (it was 1977!). The school day dragged on. When the final bell rang, I ran to rehearsal. Every so often, I would catch the boy’s glance but would quickly move my eyes back to the score, hoping he didn’t notice me watching him. Packing up after rehearsal, I heard a voice behind me. It was him. ”Hey, man, wanna see something?” Tongue-tied, I nodded. The boy took off his sweater to reveal we were wearing the same shirt! “You’ve got good taste, man.” Then, he extended his hand and said, “I’m Bernard.”

“Luis,” I said, melting in his grip.

“We’re all going to my house for pizza. Need a ride?”

“Sure,” was all I could manage to reply.

It was a nice group of kids, this theater crowd, and I was sorry I didn’t get to know them sooner. When everyone left, Bernard drove me home. We talked about the colleges we had applied to, what kind of music we liked, and shared stories about being raised by our single moms. In the weeks to come, we formed a true bond. When our letters of acceptance arrived, Bernard decided on a liberal arts college about 200 miles away. I decided to attend a local college, work, and help my mom with expenses.

Bernard and I took a summer job at the pizzeria and fell into an after-work routine of buying a six-pack and driving out to the beach to talk and listen to music. The weeks flew by and suddenly it was the eve of losing my best friend. That night, we splurged and bought two six-packs.

Walking along the shoreline, we finished all the beer. Bernard took a joint from his shirt pocket, lit up, and took a hit. He passed me the joint. I hesitated. “You’ve never smoked before, have you?” I shook my head.

“Want me to help you?”

I nodded.

“Open your mouth.”

Bernard took another hit, leaned into me, and blew the smoke from his mouth into mine. I was tingling, not from being high, but from being so close to him.

“Like it?”

I nodded and said, “Do it again.”

And he did. And then he kissed me. He tasted like beer and weed. He smelled like Aramis and pizza. He pulled me down onto the sand and kissed me some more. After a while, he moved down to my belt, opened my pants, and took me in his mouth. I was buzzing. I never imagined such a feeling was possible. Every once in a while I would catch a glimpse of the moon and make a wish to never leave this place. And for the next few hours, I didn’t have to.

Driving home, I held back tears and the intense desire to hold him, taste him, smell him, stay with him through the night. Bernard kept one hand on the steering wheel and his other hand in mine until we reached my house. This was, indeed, goodbye.

We wrote letters and phoned each other on occasion. When he came home to visit, we always returned to that special spot in the sand. After two years, Bernard left college to go on tour with a musical. He never went back and I never saw him again. From time to time, he’d send a Christmas card, but they came less frequently as the years went by. Every so often, I’ll see him in a film or television show, and once even in a commercial. Though I will always be proud of my friend who became a working actor, his most unforgettable performance will forever be in the role of the wild and beautiful boy who burst through the doors of our high school auditorium and into my lonely, little life.

Who made YOU Quiver? PrimeCrush columnist Lisa Ellex wants to know. Just whisper it in her ear and your “first-time” story could be the inspiration for her next Quiver column. Anonymity a concern? She'll change your name, location, and any other piece of identifying info, just like they do in the witness protection program. Except you don't have to move. So if you want to Quiver with us, contact lisaellex@gmail.com

Kiki

Kiki is an artist, educator, and divorced mother of three. She is very happily retired.

No other boy I knew wore Patchouli.

Bo was like no other boy in our Italian-American neighborhood. Tall and lithe with skin like milky quartz, his eyes were a pale blue and his hair was an abstract cloud of platinum. When he spoke, his voice was soft and gentle, his words well-chosen.


It seemed he appeared out of nowhere, yet no one ever thought to ask where he came from. He made no effort to become part of our crowd. Had he not been spied upon by the plump old ladies guarding the neighborhood against their window sills, or my girlfriends who came around to get a glimpse of him, I would have thought Bo was an apparition I somehow conjured for my teenage summer romance.

He asked me on a date. My first date ever. As I styled my 1972 shag haircut, a faint July breeze pushed through my window and filled my room. Taking in the scent of the summer night, I stepped back from the mirror to admire my pink and yellow crocheted shirt and the brand new jeans purchased just for this occasion. Though a teenage girl was looking in the mirror, it was a woman who was looking back.

The moment I heard the buzzer, I ran down the five flights of stairs to the ground floor. From the long, tiled corridor of my hallway, I could see Bo through the etched glass doors of my apartment building, standing at the bottom of the stoop. As I walked through the doors, Bo moved forward to greet me with a kiss and a hug and I breathed in the patchouli from the crook of his neck. No other boy I knew wore Patchouli. I wanted to bury my face in it but I knew the old ladies were watching. He put his arm around me and we began to walk. No other boy had ever put his arm around me. I felt special.

At the restaurant, the waiter showed us to a booth where we sat face to face. Bo reached across the table and took both my hands in his. ”He really likes me,” I thought. I gazed down and saw a tattoo of the letter “C” nestled in the fleshy nook between his thumb and forefinger. It was no secret that it was “her” initial. The notoriously beautiful “C”. The whole neighborhood knew about her. Rumor was they had been dating for a couple of years and during that period had broken up at least a half dozen times. Truth be told, I didn’t care. Tonight was about us.

After dinner, Bo and I headed to the basement apartment of one of his friends. Though countless times I had walked these city streets filled with the sights and sounds of summer, I somehow was experiencing it all for the very first time, every sense awakened.

We arrived at the apartment, found the bedroom, and closed the door. The faint July breeze that blew through my room earlier seemed to follow me to this place. I had no idea what to expect. Though I felt no passion, this was a grownup date and I was determined to carry out the night as a grownup.

Bo’s lips were salty. His smile, his eyes, appeared blurred and crystalline all at the same time. The feel of everything I touched, everything that touched me, was magnified. I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when the film switched from black and white to technicolor. The heat of the room intensified the delicious scent of patchouli. I was nervous but I was ready; for what, I wasn’t certain. I was on the threshold of womanhood, waiting for Bo to push me inside. When he did, time stood still. I recall nothing specific; just the general feeling of being wrapped in a blanket of bliss, and I would have stayed there under him forever if I could.

The summer left and took Bo with it. I didn’t see or hear from him again. Sometime that winter, I heard that he had died. “He was very troubled,” some said. “He did a lot of drugs,” said others. I was stunned. Bo appeared and vanished like a shining light, a nova, in my tiny teenage galaxy. I had no regrets; I felt honored to be a guest at his feast of the senses. And every summer, without fail, I feel Bo, as he comes and goes in the faint breezes of July.

Mimi.

“As he laid me down on the bed that stretched from one wall of the trailer to the other, I confessed to him that this was my first time.”

I visited Mimi in the magical garden of her country home. An extraordinary visual and performing artist, she is celebrated for her work on the Broadway stage as well as at jazz venues throughout the country. When I asked the septuagenarian how she eluded marriage, she responded with a flawless Sophie Tucker impersonation: “I’m Living Alone and I Like It.”

“Because his father owned the local deli, Howie Spinell was the most popular boy in our small New Jersey town. Every so often, Howie would take one of the foil-wrapped chocolate-covered cherries that were displayed in a box near his father’s cash register and slip it into my school bag with a little note that read, ‘Sweets for my sweet.’ This recurring gesture caused me to consider giving myself to Howie when we were grown-ups, however, I was greatly undecided on this matter because I didn’t like his thumbs.

The deciding factor came the night before high school graduation when Howie took us for a ride in his new Buick Wildcat. After cruising out to the lake, Howie shifted the car into ‘park’ as we listened to Peggy Lee sing her latest hit, ‘Is That All There Is?’ on the radio. When the song ended, he turned down the volume, flung his arm around me and asked, ‘Mimi, will you be my girl?’ I reminded Howie that I’d be off to college in a couple of months, leaving him behind to work in his father’s deli. ‘I’ll wait for you, Mimi. I love you. I always have.’ Not knowing how to respond, I didn’t utter a word. ‘Maybe this will convince you,’ he softly whispered. And with that, he got out of the car, howled at the moon, and proceeded to light his farts on fire. Howie was right. I was convinced.

I saw Howie a handful of times over the entire four years I returned home on college breaks. I avoided him, his thumbs, and his butane lighter like the plague.

I graduated college in 1974, with my hymen intact. In an effort to avoid New Jersey, I took a summer job as a cocktail waitress at a famed Pocono resort where the tips were great, the lodging was free, and the music scene was really happening. It wasn’t long before I met Miguel, a musician playing in one of the Top 40 bands at the resort. He was handsome, wildly talented, and he had fabulous thumbs. He also had a girlfriend. Miguel and I became the best of friends and eventually, his girlfriend fell out of the picture. The summer ended, and with it went our jobs and our free lodging. We agreed that we would shack up together in the 1950 wood-paneled Spartan trailer that sat on a property my parents owned just a few miles from the resort.

Our first night in the trailer would be the first night we ever spent alone together. After sharing a joint and a bottle of wine by the fire, we headed inside where Miguel’s transistor radio played songs from our favorite station. This moment could not have been more perfect, and I could not have been more ready.

Miguel lit some candles, scooped me up, and carried me to the back of the Spartan. As he laid me down on the bed that stretched from one wall of the trailer to the other, I confessed to him that this was my first time. He smiled, undressed me, and stationed his body over mine. And as fast as you could say, ‘Sonny and Cher,’ he was done. Miguel rolled over and fell asleep as, utterly confused, I stared through the dark at a piece of fly paper that hung from the ceiling. Then suddenly, as if on cue, Peggy Lee came over the airwaves singing, ‘Is That All There Is?’. As Miguel snored, I did something I never, ever thought I would do. I thought about Howie Spinell.”

Jake.

“For whatever reason, the married woman became fixated on me.”

A hardcore New Yorker, Jake is full of colorful stories spanning his 40 years as a restaurateur. Now 65, he is divorced, retired, and enjoying his first grandchild.

“There were a lot of great things about growing up in Manhattan: It was a short walk to our Catholic school, we played hockey on the street, it was a ten-minute subway ride to Central Park, and some Friday nights meant piling into a Checker cab with friends to see a concert at Madison Square Garden. The drinking age was 18, but by 14 years old we had fake IDs that got us into the bars.

On a Saturday night in 1973, I was in one of those bars with my classmate, Mousey, shooting darts and drinking beer. If you believed Mousey’s stories, he was a guy of great sexual prowess. I, on the other hand, was still an inexperienced 17-year-old. So there I was, listening to Mousey’s intimate adventures when two women walked in and asked us if we wanted to play darts for beer. Both women were tall, thin blondes who could have passed for twins. Hippy chicks, about thirty years old. It was the stuff boys dream of.

We were having a lot of fun getting to know them when one of the women divulged that she was married to a member of a well-known rock band that was out on a world tour. The other woman chimed in that she was the ‘old lady’ of a musician from the same band. Then, she asked how old we were.

‘We’re 18,’ Mousey lied.
‘Can you get us some acid?’, the married woman asked.

Caught up in the moment, I blurted out, ‘Sure!’ and was out the door. I barreled down the stairs of the subway just outside the bar, took the train two stops to 23rd Street, then ran to an apartment building where two kids sat behind a desk in the lobby. I told them what I wanted, paid them, and they disappeared, returning shortly with four tabs of acid. I stuck the acid in my pocket, jumped back on the train, and returned to the bar.

After we all did the acid, the women invited us to an apartment on the lower east side where we did shots and smoked weed. For whatever reason, the married woman became fixated on me. Perhaps it was my Irish Catholic upbringing, but I didn’t feel right about being with a married woman so I decided to pair off with her friend. And that’s the last thing I remember.

When I woke up in the morning, the married woman was sleeping beside me. Though I couldn’t recall a thing that happened in bed, I was guilt-ridden. The women made us breakfast and when we were done, Mousey and I made our way to the door.

‘Don’t you want to hang out?’ the married woman asked.
‘We have to get to work,’ Mousey said.
‘On Sunday?’
‘We’re altar boys,’ I confessed, closing the door behind us.

I was sure Mousey would never speak to me again, but I had to ask.
‘Listen, Mousey, I know I was really wasted, but didn’t I go to bed with the single one?’

‘You sure did. But in the middle of the night, they switched.’
Then we walked in complete silence, all the way to church.

Believe it or not, I did not experience sober sex until I was 32 years old. I guess you can say that’s when I lost my virginity because it’s the first time I was really present. But sober or not, I could never resist an older hippy chick.”

Nina.

“I fell asleep thinking, ‘I am now a sexual being,’ and I discovered a confidence (and a sense of humor) that has stayed with me to this day.”

I was tickled when a young woman who read my first Quiver column contacted me to share her personal story. Enjoying her second year in a committed, domestic partnership, Nina is a psychotherapist who uses music as the focal point of her practice.

In her early teens, Nina began singing in small New York City clubs and cafes. During this time her parents divorced, her filmmaker father remarried, and Nina spent every other weekend traveling to the suburbs to visit him.

“My dad was shooting a film in his neighborhood and had cast me in a short scene as a lounge singer. The days were long and the crew became like family, but there was one guy I found particularly attractive. Call him Zev. Zev was handsome, funny, artistic, and had the most beautiful blue eyes. I especially liked that he was not American. After a week of mutual flirting, I decided he would be ‘the one’.

At the end of the shoot, we had the customary wrap party. My father thanked us for our work, said his goodbyes, and left to return equipment to Manhattan where I knew he would be spending the night. Everyone started playing this drinking game in which you take a shot of tequila with lime and someone removes the lime from your mouth with theirs. Somehow, Zev and I were paired together and after he removed my lime we kissed.

When the party ended, Zev called a taxi and offered to drop me at my dad’s. As we pulled up to the house, I leaned in and kissed him goodnight and then invited him in.

We made our way to the couch in the den. The entire house was dark, except for the light from a lamp across the room. I knew this was the moment. I wasn’t nervous but I was self-conscious about my body, especially about my breasts. For enhancement, I always wore ‘chicken cutlets’—silicone-filled pads that actually resemble chicken cutlets—in my bra. As Zev took off my shirt, I realized this was the first time I was presenting my body to another individual yet I had made no plan for the cutlets!

In an effort to distract him, I directed Zev’s head between my legs, reached inside my bra, grabbed the chicken cutlets, and flung them across the room, knocking over the lamp and miraculously taking out the light.

Zev lifted his head and whispered, ‘What was that noise?’

‘Must have been the cat,’ I answered, pushing his head down again.

We didn’t own a cat.

Truth be told, it was not magical. Liberating was more like it. I fell asleep thinking, ‘I am now a sexual being,’ and I discovered confidence (and a sense of humor) that has stayed with me to this day.

I awoke to the smell of bacon. I shook Zev, and ran into the kitchen to find my stepmother making breakfast. She looked at me and shrieked. ‘You’re covered in hickeys! Your father just called from the bagel store. Jesus Christ put on a scarf!’

I ran to my room and looked in the mirror. This was not your average hickey. This was a map of Pangea.

The only thing I owned that was even close to a scarf was the feathered boa I wore in my scene. I wrapped it around my neck and headed to get Zev out of the house. As I found him standing in the kitchen, I heard my father coming through the front door.

Frantic, my stepmother motioned for us to take a seat at the table. My father entered the kitchen, set down a bag of bagels, greeted Zev, and gave me a kiss. My stepmother nervously began dishing out bacon, starting with Zev.

‘Thanks, but I’m vegan,’ said Zev. ‘Is it okay if I give mine to the cat?’”

Joe.

This is Joe’s story. He actually makes me miss high school.”

“She was older by a year. I was a high school sophomore and Linda was a junior. We had no classes together but I always noticed her because, well frankly, she had huge breasts. I guess she noticed me, too, because when I was walking home from school on that particular day she sidled up to me. I thought I was hallucinating. I was probably thinking about her at that very moment, and suddenly, she magically appeared. She walked with me to my house and then continued down the street to her own.

Walking home together became a regular thing. I guess my mother had noticed. I was outwardly shy and perhaps my mom was worried that I didn’t have a girlfriend because one day she said, ‘Tomorrow night, your father and I are going to the movies. Why don’t you ask your friend to come over for dinner?’ This surprised me for a couple of reasons. First, my father was the Science teacher at our school and it was rare that he went out on a school night. Second, I thought it odd that my parents would leave me alone with a girl.

I spent the next school day terrified by the thought of Linda rejecting my invitation. When three o’clock came, we walked, we talked, I asked, I stammered. She agreed.

While setting the kitchen table, my mother instructed me how to serve the eggplant parmigiana she prepared for us. As my parents were making their way to the front door my mother whispered to me, ‘There’s a little wine left in the bottle.’ And they were gone.

Linda arrived. We went into the kitchen to find two place settings complete with grown-up wine glasses and a lighted candle. Linda poured what was left of the wine.

‘Cheers,’ said Linda.

‘Cheers,’ I replied.

Then she blurted out, ‘I can’t believe I’m in my Science teacher’s house!’

The next thing I remember is Linda taking me by the hand and walking me up the stairs to my room. She led me right to my bed where we started making out. She was aggressive, in a tender kind of way. There was no doubt that she had done this before. I remember slowly peeling off her jeans; those great bell bottoms from the 1970s. That was all she allowed me to do. From then on, she initiated every mind-blowing thing that was to come. I wasn’t nervous. I was fascinated. Fascinated by every perfect thing Linda did.

While getting dressed, Linda commented on what a great lover I was. I actually thanked her and admitted it was my first time. She laughed. I asked what was so funny.

‘You’re kidding, right?’

I assured her I was not.

‘But you knew exactly what to do.’

And she was right. I did. I don’t know how, but I did. Maybe it was instinct. Maybe it was from years of thinking about it.

Making our way down the stairs, Linda reprised, ‘I can’t believe I’m in my Science teacher’s house!’. And with that, the front door opened on my parents. My mother seemed to have a slight smile on her face. My father, on the other hand, looked like he wanted to kill me.

‘Why don’t you walk Linda home,’ my mother urged. And so I did.

That was forty-five years ago but I can’t tell you how often I’ve replayed that night in my mind. To this day, I adore sexually aggressive women. Sometimes, when I walk down the street, I can feel Linda sidling up to me in her bell-bottom jeans.”

Violet.

For her first column on first-time-sex, writer Lisa Ellex tells Violet’s story and discusses the “inheritance” of a healthy sexual attitude.

My mother married my father out of guilt. “It was 1954, I was 17-years-old, and we were intimate. Girls like me were looked upon as ‘used goods’. I thought I had no choice.”

The 1960s women’s movement (and a little help from Erica Jong’s 1973 novel, Fear of Flying) greatly contributed to my mother’s physical and spiritual liberation. It also influenced her decision to divorce my father. Enlightened, she passed her new and healthy sexual attitude along to me, and me to my daughter. Call it our family heirloom. I am happy my mother lived long enough to see a time when life choices such as marriage are no longer influenced by sexual mores. We are, for the most part, free to love whomever we choose, whenever we choose, however, we choose.

I would love nothing more than to interview my mother for the debut of this column and further share with you how her first sexual experience shaped -- and re-shaped -- her adult sex life, but mom has moved on to that great Plato’s Retreat in the sky. I only hope she found a clean mattress.

From Colette to Henry Miller, authors of modern literature deliciously recounted desire. Somehow, the Golden Age of Television ushered in a pseudo-puritanical moral code for the 1950s, and a guilt-ridden America played along.

Someone who did not play along is a friend I will call Violet. Not only does she share my mother’s birth year, but she also shares my mother’s free-thinking spirit.

A bright and curious child who “developed early and attracted many suitors”, Violet’s parents kept a watchful eye. She met her “first” -- we will call him Roman -- under the awning of a church picnic concession stand while waiting for a rain storm to pass. A romantic beginning, indeed. It was the summer after her freshman year of high school and Roman was about to enter college on a football scholarship. She fell fast for the tall, dark, and handsome athlete, and when he walked her home that night he asked to see her again. And again. And they spent the next year seeing each other on weekends when Roman would make the one-hour drive from his college dorm to Violet’s house. When her parents forbid her to get in a car with him, Violet protested, “Don’t be ridiculous! Anything we can do in a car we can do under a bush!” And so, Violet would walk around the corner to rendezvous with Roman who was waiting in his 1947 Plymouth.

Feeling the strain of classes, football, and his part-time job, Roman enlisted in the Air Force to later finish college on the G.I. Bill. Violet was heartbroken. They spent the next year corresponding through steamy love letters. When Violet graduated that June, Roman was transferred to an outpost in the Midwest. Despite earning two full college scholarships, Violet decided to follow and marry Roman.

I asked Violet if forfeiting her scholarship was a difficult decision. “I was in love. I was in lust. I was 17-years-old. What did I know?” What Violet did know was that for the rest of Roman’s days their physical life perfectly reflected their courtship: romantic and passionate. Violet was done talking now, but I couldn’t help but ask, “So, did you do it in the car or under a bush?” Candid yet reserved, she answered, “You find a way.”

How did your first sexual encounter shape your adult sex life?

With love,

Lisa

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from Dish Stanley curating articles & intelligence on everything love & connection - friendship, romance, self-love, sex. If you’d like to take a look at some of our best stories go to Read Us. Want the Dish?

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