The Crush Letter No. 10

. 15 min read

Hello Crush,

Happy Saturday morning! Thanks for being here. I find myself in Boston this morning where the crocus, narcissus and daffodils are punching up through the ground, more and more people are getting their second vaccination shots and friends are gathering. in groups. around their kitchen tables. and at their favorite bistros, dim sums and pizza joints. hello friends! I really missed you. And your hugs. I hope to never in my life "elbow bump" a close friend again where a hug belonged. It is so good to feel this togetherness again. I'm feeling quite sentimental this morning.

The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter with curated intelligence on everything love, sex and friendship. If you're new here, thanks for joining us! I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.

I'm feeling particularly sentimental so I want to tell you how thoroughly touched I was by all the love bites I got from the Crush community this week. Sometimes–ever so briefly--like when it is 3am on Friday night and I didn't have a date but instead finished up an issue, honestly I do wonder whether or not I'm on to something. And then you come through with your notes, and I think maybe I am. Thank you (truly!) to Jennifer, Kristen, Craig, Megan, Michele, Peter, Elizabeth, Steve, Saana, Nina, Jo (by way of Adam), Sarah, Farah, Mike. It means so much to hear from you. And speaking of Mike, he wrote an actual "letter to the editor" so I think maybe it's time we start a "Letters to the Master of Ceremonies" section. But let's call it "Dear Dish" for short, shall we? That's where we'll start this week. Thanks for getting us rolling, Mike.

And from there, we'll DEVOUR many things, including the classic erotic novel Story of O, the brand new Netflix comedy Sexify and a tiny desk concert by Nathaniel Rateliff. Crush Reader Liza Lentini has given us 5 Things That Turn Her On for our recurring STIR series. (We'd love yours too.) We also have a personal essay from Lauren D. Weinstein exploring how friendship feels to a single childless woman in a world of friends with kids. If your single and childless, read it for the good company and if you're not, read it for the insight on your friends who are.

"No article about sex & music is complete without ..." Mike

Dear Dish,

The Crush Letter No. 9 was engaging as always.

No article about sex and music is complete without this. Period.

XO, @miketrap

***

Dear Mike,

The whole Avalon album {Roxy Music}? Why?

XO, Dish

***

Dish,

The whole album is just wonderful, at turns tender, energetic, sophisticated, and gritty. It's a walk up Columbus Avenue in New York, on a Fall evening ripe with youthful possibility. The song Avalon in particular has a dreamy quality to it that just helps you escape yourself, as does To Turn You On.

Could be it just reminds me of that time, but I really do think there's something in the music, as in so much of Brian Ferry's later work.

Enjoy.

Mike

***

Mike,

Ummm. Yeah, I did enjoy that. Hopefully it was good for my iroha + tori too.

Dish

{Not really. I did not really actually write that last part back to Mike. If I had, who knows whether he would ever write to Dear Dish again. And he is the guy who gave us his Bad Girl Pasta Recipe. So we need him in our Crush community. However dear Crush readers, between you and me (don't tell Mike!), that is a precisely accurate state of affairs. Read about my relationship with my iroha + tori here.}

Got something to get off your chest? I'd love to hear it. Write to Dear Dish at dish@primecrush.com.

DEVOUR {things to do, read, see & have}

Read. Book Review: The Story of O, by Pauline Réage

Reviewed by Evie Arnaude

First published in 1954 and set in Paris, O is a submissive, ready to accept desire in all its forms from any man who’s also a member of her lover René’s secret society. Told in writing so sparse it can only be poetic, The Story of O’s author spares O, and thus her reader, no experience: She is whipped, she is chained, she is pierced, she is branded. And yes, she has lots of sex of every kind imaginable.

O is a photographer, a professional, she wears a suit and heels and gloves. The feminist view has attempted to wrangle this story for so long now. O is a willing sexual slave. And her story goes to the extreme. With that, it’s not for everyone. By all means keep in mind the culture of the early-to-mid-’50s, what it meant to write or read this book through the years, and how its timelessness has made it endure throughout the decades.

Nearly 70 years have passed and this is still one of the most preeminent in its league. Looking at it through modern eyes, you may ask the question: Is O objectified? And the answer is: Yes. She is. This is her story and this is, in its fictional world, the life she’s willfully chosen. But once you understand that the book itself was written under a nom de plume by Anne Desclos as a series of love letters to her lover, and that she didn’t publish under her own name because of the looming threat of “obscenity” (which was the reason given for revoking its 1955 Prix des Deux Magot literature prize), then you begin to understand O’s world as something deeply symbolic, an ode, more than a literal representation (pun intended here).

And what does that say about her author? We’ll likely never know, as she only revealed her true identity--and little else--shortly before her death. The backstory and its reflection are currently up for interpretation, and may be reason enough for a re-read.

Watch. Sexify on Netflix. A cross between the British series Sex Education, the HBO series Silicon Valley and the Reese Witherspoon movie Election, this Polish comedy stalks Natalia, a first-rate N.E.R.D. whose entire college experience has been spent coding her sleep app invention. The exhausted-looking Natalia desperately needs to win the startup competition that her Warsaw engineering college holds for seniors as her ticket out of the Polish sticks where she grew up. Her dedication to her project is singular, complete with giving herself daily affirmations "Stop looking like a victim because that's how you actually become one ... You are motivated. You are strong. Natalia, must believe in yourself." When the faculty advisor tells her she'll never win with a sleep app because it's not sexy enough, she's despondent. Until she comes up with a better plan: a sex app focused on the only sex subject the world has ignored: women's orgasms. The issue: Natalia has never had one. She needs to recruit a team.

That's the set-up for a story about how three vastly different college women bond as friends and teammates in order to bring more orgasms to Poland. Each of the three primary characters is well-developed: the seemingly content solo Nerd Natalia; her best friend Paulina, a Catholic who has been having mission-style sex exclusively with her fiance (and no orgasms); and Monika, a sexually adventurous and feisty dormmate. Sexify was not made with the big budget of something like the HBO-backed Silicon Valley. No commercial Hollywood feel here, which added to its appeal for me. There is plenty of nudity, but it is not exploitive - the women's bodies are real women's bodies. The experience of watching the show, with its English subtitles and setting in Warsaw, feels much like the story of the three friends themselves, there's this genuine feeling of rooting for the underdog. It's quirky, funny, sometimes goofy and a delight. As of the timing of this review Netflix is still considering a second season. Fingers crossed here.

Read. Elena Bowes Blog. Elena Bowes writes a blog that she says is "part travel (wanderings), part thoughts (ponderings) and part things that excite me in my everyday dual existence (lovings). I am always looking for the meaning of life. My eternally glass half-full NY dentist Dr Iott, my wiseman London therapist Shomit Mitter, novelist wise woman Elizabeth Gilbert, and Jane Fonda are just a few of my trusted sources." She is interesting and thoughtful and self-abasingly honest and a beautiful writer who is philosophical on the big questions, funny on the daily slog and an explorer alongside whom you want to explore. She recently explored her upcoming marriage to her partner in this piece Is Stretch My LeBron? (Hat tip to Steven)

Listen. Nathaniel Rateliff: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. Rateliff pours his whole heart into the songs he plays for NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series. All along he's bringing us with him sure-handedly, building up to an emotionally-charged finale. It reminded me of the summer my bff and I were so desperate to see Rateliff live that we drove hours out to the god-forsaken Foxwoods concert venue, made our way through the slot machines, hiked up to nose-bleed seats and ... danced with the rest of the thousands to his wear-my-whole-searing-heartbreak-of-a-life-on-my-sleeve style of music. This is a slimmed-down acoustic offering (without The Nightsweats, who frequently back him) but it packs the full emotional punch here. (Hat tip to Ruth)

Follow. Costarastrology on insta. I made a plug last week for this insta site for its highly pinpoint observations of humanity (you, your friends, your romantic partners), but that was before they came out with this one. Which nails my every single ex to a T. Especially Peter, the Libra. (Peter, the latest issue has a spread on the best home bars. You would love it.) So here I am again, in case you missed it last week.

STIR {tactics for being more connected}

"On your knees, Baby." Liza Lentini's 5 Things

5 Things That Turn Me On: Liza Lentini

Is this your real name: Yes.

Occupation: Writer & Editor.

Current relationship status: In a committed relationship.

Which generation are you in: Proud Gen Xer.

Follow you on: insta @thiswickedawesomelife

La Vie En Rose” by Grace Jones: I never make a feel-good playlist of any kind without this song on it. Grace Jones is one of the hottest women who fell to earth, and she took one of the most beautiful songs of all time to the stratosphere and back. The result is a tour de force as only Grace Jones can do it. Like her, it’s stunning and powerful and steaming hot.

Being nice to my dog: My dog and I come as a pair. There’s no negotiations on this one. Besides, dog people are the best people. Am I right?

9½ Weeks (film): The book and the film are both incredible, but the film decided to soften Elizabeth McNeill’s original story, as films tend to, so I think of it as its own entity. With that, Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger have never been more beautiful. The film is careful to focus on love—with some very light BDSM on the side—there’s some heartbreak, but no major damage done. NYC in the 1980s makes for a perfectly sexy backdrop.

On your knees, Baby!: Um, I’m talking about housecleaning…what did you think? I am obsessed with keeping things clean and organized, and as I’m usually the one who takes initiative with this, it’s white hot when someone else—that I haven’t paid—does it for me. And I’m not talking about a tiny little counter wipe, I mean…scrubbing floors. (Yes, on your knees.) YUM.

Breakfast in bed: Typically, breakfast in bed is served when I’m on vacation…and truly, what’s sexier than vacation? I admit I order more food than I can eat, and lots of things I wouldn’t ordinarily have for breakfast. It feels so indulgent. It is so indulgent. It just occurred to me as I’m writing this that I haven’t had breakfast in bed for far too long…must remedy that immediately.

Hello, Crush! What turns you on? I’m thrilled to introduce you to this recurring column where we share five things that light our fire. I’m kicking it off with my list above – and I’d love to hear from you! (Yes, you!) If you’d like us to send you a template to fill out, it’s really easy and fun, please email me at dish@primecrush.com. (PS you can publish under your alias.)

SIMMER {original essays & opinions to consider}

The Dynamics of Friendship

Can singlehood withstand the trials of friends with kids? One woman’s story.

By Lauren D. Weinstein

Bette Midler belts out, “You gotta have friends!” but what do you do when you realize they lack balance and no longer serve you or your lifestyle?

Most of my friends are married, have children and some work outside the home, as well. I am a single freelancer and I am not a parent. Being a wife and mother definitely has a different set of responsibilities and priorities.

I’ve noticed that maintaining these friendships has become frustrating, exhausting and, frankly, apparently on life support. I totally understand that these friendships, realistically, are not able to be the way they used to…they dwindle due to a difference in investment of time and energy.

I nostalgically miss the days when my gal pals were each other’s “go-to”, with seemingly endless conversations on the phone, when we all were single and calling each other up to ruminate, lament our romantic relationships—or lack thereof—giving intricate details about disastrous blind dates, Bumble swiping, rehearsing break up speeches, sexual escapades, (who got the crabs on vacation from the hot guy in Club Med, or who’s anxiously reading the pregnancy  results from Clear Blue Easy), pep talks, career advice, navigating family dramas, struggles with the Keto diet, sharing beauty tips from Botox to boob jobs, and which psychic to consult.

Our conversations are now sound bites, prefaced with: “I only have a minute! Sorry, I can’t talk...I have five minutes before I have to take Suzy to band practice. I’ll call you back later…I promise!” (Which is actuality is six months from now.) Unfortunately, it’s a case of good intentions and bad follow through.

Daily conversations soon became weekly—then monthly, or not at all—unless I reached out.

Being the single one meant I was the one trekking to New Jersey or Long Island for a get-together (meeting me half-way would be in Staten Island, G-d forbid), the assumption that it was easier for me, since I didn’t have to pick up kids from school and take to soccer or to a play date…or cook dinner...pick up Fido from the groomer or plan the upcoming fundraiser.

I would hear them lament endlessly that they had no time to spare for themselves (let alone me!), how play dates with other moms meant Pinot Grigio drunk secretly from sippy cups.

The only time I seem to get a call or text is when they need beauty advice, or to happily tell me that their daughter got engaged, or sadly share the loss of a parent, or they have last-minute tickets to a show that their husband doesn’t want to see—then they are able to find me.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am grateful to receive these calls. The calls are rarely to commit to an actual plan or time carved out to connect and spend time together.

(Whatever did happen to that girls’ weekend we vowed to take for the last 10 years?)

Excuse me, am I not busy? Being single means it’s all on you. There isn’t anyone to pick up your laundry when you are stuck in rush hour traffic on the Van Wyck Expressway—I guess I will have to wear the same sweaty underwire bra two days in a row. If the car needs to be shoveled out from under a foot of frozen snow, there isn’t a “strong man” to dig it out. If I am sick with the flu, I crawl to the doctor, runny nose and sore throat in tow, and make my own Jewish penicillin. On nights when I am lonely and sleep escapes me, there isn’t anyone to spoon with or wipe away tears made of fear and anxiety.

Ironically, it’s only for those monumental milestone moments in their lives that they seem to be able to reach out. When I’m invited to attend these events, it’s usually solo. I wonder…do they need to save money on the tables? Why do they choose to seat me next to their long-lost cousin from Milwaukee?

Sometimes it hits me in the gut that I just don’t feel like I belong to that group of friends anymore. We share a past and have wonderful memories. I guess for now, that’s it. It saddens me, I feel cut off from them and myself.

Friendships, if they are to flourish, need to be tended to and cultivated like a garden or the soil gets dry and it no longer produces the best fruit for consumption. I still want to lovingly water that garden but I wonder…do they?

I am a social creature, yet I find it difficult at this age to develop new friendships. How many MEET UP groups can one join? It takes a lot of effort and mental energy to show up and continue to try—courage and many deep breaths (hyperventilating, actually) to walk into a room of unfamiliar faces, put on a smiley face and strike up a friendly and benign conversation. I find these meetups to be like scanning for a prime table in the junior high school cafeteria…you want to fit in with the cool kids and fear sitting alone—or worse—with the so-called outcasts who might have cooties.

My old friendships felt so much more inviting and cozy, like my worn grey sweatpants. They always make me feel like home the minute I slip them on.

My friends have witnessed the history of my life and they know me…so it’s sad to see these once close relationships reduced and feeling empty.

I know I deserve to have friendships that are valued and reciprocal. When we do get together, on rare occasions, it is both familiar and strange.

What I find comforting about these old friendships is…it’s life-affirming to be with people that knew you when: when you wore braces, had pimples, failed your algebra exam, nabbed the lead in the school play, learned how to use a tampon, had your first kiss and were there to wipe your uncontrollable tears when your grandmother unexpectedly died. I undeniably treasure those memories.

Do I expect too much from them? Perhaps. Are my ideals and expectations of friendship in conflict with the reality of our lives? Do I just have to be flexible and accept that friendships, like anything living and breathing have evolved or simply ran their course? Or as Rumi so beautifully states: Life is balance of holding on and letting go.

Is it time to put them on the shelf of my memories and appreciate them for what they once were? I guess I bought into the notion that true friendships lasted forever. Perhaps they can if the parties involved are willing to show up, cultivate, accept and adjust to the changes—or it won’t survive the ebb and flow of life. I question if they were this way all along or if it’s me that has changed. Do these friendships continue as long as I make it convenient? The reality that this may be the truth doesn’t sit well with me. I am no longer willing to do all the heavy lifting in order to keep a friendship alive. Keeping healthy friendships requires communication and a mutual understanding of each other’s human limitations if we are to successfully transition through life changes that threaten friendship stability.

I am now choosing to look at my past friendships with some healthy distance while validating their purpose, undeniable influence and importance to my growth.

The beauty of friendship is that it’s a relationship I can choose to have or not. Now, as I open myself up to see what new friendships can add to this stage in my life, I feel cautiously optimistic that there are other friends out there waiting and eager to meet me halfway.

Thanks to Liza Lentini, we're rolling into our Saturday with Grace Jones. Hope your week end is in the pink.

Dish Stanley XO,
Dish

PS: I'd love to hear from you. If you just hit "reply" to this newsletter, I won't get it so write to me at dish@primecrush.com. Let's get it on.

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter from the Dish curating intelligence & stories on all things 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?