The Crush Letter No 132: A Men’s Book Club, Pamela Anderson, The Golden Bachelor

. 18 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about life, love, and culture for those 50+. Because midlife and beyond is so much hotter than they said it would be. Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.


Hello Crush,

Thanks for being here this Saturday morning. The world certainly has not gotten easier this last week, so I hope that everyone is doing well and finding some moments of peace.

Welcome to all the new subscribers this week! We love having you here. We have a lot to cover today, so I’m diving in.

Why are we watching The Golden Bachelor? I know why I started. I thought it was my job as Dish, publisher of The Crush Letter, to stay on top of pop culture romance in our age group. But then I got into it on more than just a “reporting for work” level. When I mentioned it to a few friends I’ve seen in NYC recently I got this: “O B S E S S E D.” Repeatedly. None of us has ever turned into the bachelor franchise before. It turns out, according to Variety, we’re not alone. There are well over 11 million of us and it was the biggest debut in the bachelor franchise. I’m trying to work through why.

Here’s what my friend Nina said:

“It’s not about who is going to win for me. And it’s not about Gerry {the bachelor}. It’s really fun to see these women, who are anywhere from a few years older than us to ten years older put themselves out there so boldly. I enjoy their vibrancy. They are showing great courage, risking appearing foolish and going for what they want on a very large stage (even if it’s a strange stage and admittedly a misogynistic one). To a greater or lesser degree the stage represents a reality we all live in, a culture where the predominant narrative is that these women are ‘invisible.‘ Here they are, not giving a shit how embarrassing it might seem, or what anyone thinks. They are ambitious and going for what they want. It is fun to see their spirit, their emotions and even their strategies.”

Over the summer I wrote a piece challenging the idea that we “age out of hot” called Heat vs Warmth After 50, so I get my friend’s feeling exactly.

Then another friend, Mary, long-time happily married, suggested another reason: “I think it’s the car wreck thing. Can’t keep your eyes off of it because there but for the grace of god, it could be us. And also, there is this other element that I appreciate that’s playing out … about how different dating seems to be at this stage than it was when I met my husband. It’s not hormone driven. That’s there, but not driving the car. We are hearing a lot of ‘I’m lonely and I just want to find my person to grow old with.‘ It’s touching. They’ve all been through a lot of shit. You’re really rooting for them to not be lonely …”

As you can see (from Nina and Mary) I am blessed with some really fucking insightful friends (thank god). As a woman in my 50’s who has been actively dating I am still processing my reactions to The Golden Bachelor. And (along with Nina and Mary’s help), I need yours CRUSH Readers. I am working on an article for you so if you are watching it, can you please tell me your thoughts? The poll below is anonymous! Or write me at Dish@PrimeCrush.com


Pamela Anderson. A model of “everything.” First it was Dolly Parton showing us a version of femininity that is at once flirty, determined, scrappy, exceptionally effective and exceedingly kind. And now it‘s Pamela Anderson winning us over with her combination of vulnerability, resilience and sweetness. Back at you, Mom, whose college career was interrupted by motherhood, for always reminding me to stay open to lessons from unexpected sources. Anderson’s latest move was to go make-up free at Paris Fashion Week, a fact which surprisingly got picked up by major news sources (no shit!), as well as the fashion press. In an insta reel (link below, under the snap) she offers a couple of reasons, including ”I’m not trying to be the prettiest girl in the room. I feel like it’s just freedom. It’s like a relief.”

Later she says “I also feel as a woman and as a woman my age and a woman in the public eye, it’s also your job to be … a model of just everything, all kinds of choices.” Amen! I made my own attempt to work through my struggles as a young professional woman to “contain multitudes” in You’re Wearing A Turtleneck, Again? On Learning to Love Being Sexy & Smart in Midlife. It was one of my earliest pieces for The Crush Letter. But Pamela, applause to you. You contain multitudes, and we love to see it.

Of course, we at The Crush Letter knew that and had run a wonderful article by Daisy Foster after her documentary Pamela, A Love Story came out. We are re-running our piece Pamela Anderson: What Her Story Says About Us on the occasion of her no make-up assault on Paris Fashion Week (and the whole world).

Watch her reel explaining it here.

What else? A Q&A on a highly successful men’s book club. I had an excellent conversation with my friend David recently, who shared details on his highly successful all-male book club. I was captivated by it, if for no other reason that I always look for great book recommendations, but also because the narrative we so often hear about men after 50 revolves around a surfeit of opportunities for male bonding. He gives a roadmap on how to counter that, plus the group’s all time favorite books.

This IS the song we need right now. The Rolling Stones dropped the rest of their new album Hackneyed Diamonds. I had written in an earlier Letter about what a romp Angry is, a song they released before the rest of the album. But, oh, dear Readers. Sweet Sounds of Heaven is a triumph. A prayer, really, it is an exquisite, plaintive, gospel-inspired plea for, well, a lot of things (feeding the hungry, living a big life as we age, peace on earth) but I’d sum it up by saying it’s about fulfillment, in a majestic sense. It features Lady Gaga and Stevie Wonder, and it’s as big as the fireworks that light up the skies in summer. It is, of course, our Song of the Week.

And just one more thing: if you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help this grow by forwarding this Crush Letter to a friend!

Enjoy!


In This Letter. +How One Group of Men Does A Good Book Club. The Books They’ve Liked Best Over 5 Years. By Dish Stanley “A guy in my golf foursome bugged the shit out of me for three years over how he can’t get into my book group. The book group. It’s a thing.” +Dish's Rules for Polite Society Be the first to reach out, apologize, forgive. +Pamela Anderson: What Her Story Says About Us By Daisy Foster There's a lot to learn from Pamela Anderson’s story, as we see in her recent documentary and in her life. Looking back at our first two or three decades, we were all beautiful with endless possibilities. +Social Media I Loved This Week +Dear Dish +Our Song of the Week I smell the scents scents, sweet, sweet scents of Heaven tumbling down


How One Group of Men Does A Good Book Club & the Books They’ve Liked Best. By Dish Stanley

Here’s how one guy brought together a group of men to share an unmissable regular event, their book club.

There’s been a lot of attention the last few years on men, loneliness and suicide rates, particularly for those in midlife and beyond. In one of our first Crush Letters I wrote about that in Don’t Touch My Hat: Men, Friendship & Loneliness. When I spend time with male friends, I always ask them to tell me about the ways they form and maintain bonds with other men. My friend David told me about his Book Club, comprised of eight “semi-retired” men who have been meeting monthly through the winter months for five years.

I started off by asking David a threshold question. “How many of the guys actually show up?” His response:

All eight, every time. Nobody misses it. In fact, the joke is that everybody sends their wives the schedule when it comes out and the wives know that if there’s a conflict, we aren’t missing the book club.”

With that kind of turn-out, I figured I’d dig deeper with David to get you, dearest Crush Readers, the details.

Q: David, tell me the basics. How many men, how often do you meet and how long have you been meeting?

A: We’ve done it for five winters, so we’ll be starting our sixth year soon. We all spend winters in the south, but most go north for the summer so we’re a “six months out of the year” book club. The same eight guys have been in the group since the beginning. We meet once a month starting in January and everyone attends.

Q: How did you get started?

A: Well, here’s the thing. The guy who got us going, Jim, is really the key. He is highly respected and well-liked. Very intelligent, with strong people and management skills. He hand-selected everyone in the group - we didn’t all know each other going in. But what we all knew is that he is a guy who would put together a top-notch group of men whose thoughts you’d want to hear and who would be civil. He is the undisputed group leader, in charge of “running the meetings,” so to speak. We’re not governed as a democracy and nobody is pretending otherwise. We’re in good hands.

Q: Tell me more about him and how he runs the group.

A: He ran one of the country’s largest financial institutions. Started out in sales. As I said, strong people skills, including the fact that he reads people very well. So he would know who is a good conversationalist, has something to offer, knows how to engage in respectful discourse, is not going to grandstand or pontificate or interrupt. I knew it would be a room full of what I’ll call “substantive” people but it wouldn’t be a room full of pompous asses. I knew that if he liked them and wanted them as part of the group, they’d be worthwhile knowing. I assume that’s what everyone thought.

To be clear, I have friends Jim knows well and it really bugs them that they didn’t get invited into the group. From the start when somebody asked what to do if anyone asks about joining, Jim says tell them “it’s full.” “Or better yet, say, ‘Oh. I didn’t realize you knew how to read.’” I have respect for that because Jim is not a waffler and he doesn’t mind taking the heat if it comes back to him. He isn’t going to get a larger room, dilute the energy, etc. He wants things to be quality. Most of the guys who I know he knows but didn’t ask are smart, but they‘d be disruptive. They’d need to dominate the conversation, be the smartest guy in the room, that kind of thing. Jim knew what he was doing. A guy in my golf foursome bugged the shit out of me for three years over how he’s not in the book group. “How can I get in?” He kept saying. ”You can’t,” I say, “It’s full. Stop asking.”

Before the first meeting of the year Jim sends around the dates for the year. At the first meeting, he comes with a preliminary list of books and we all come with suggestions. We also discuss whatever our “summer selection” was. This summer it was “Our Crowd” By Stephen Birmingham. After the meeting he compiles the full list of books under consideration with title, author and respective Amazon ratings. Sends it around for us to each consider or research, then we discuss and vote at the second meeting, come up with the year’s list.

Q: What genre(s) do you read?

A: We only read nonfiction. Primarily histories and biographies. If we had a “sweet spot” it would be WWII and U.S. Presidents, but we are not confined to that. We’ve read books on major expeditions, lots of finance-related biographies and books about current topics in society, like The Diversity Delusion, which prompted one of our best conversations. Very relevant.

Q: What do you enjoy so much about the meetings? What happens there?

A: Most guys get to the bar early. We move to the dining room, on time. How do we know? Jim walks from the bar to the dining room. “Must be time,” I think. We almost always begin by talking about politics or news or the markets. After a while we get to the book. It’s a great conversation. Respectful; everybody usually contributes something at some point, no one person dominates. A group of interesting guys who are civil. Not that we’re not sharing impolitic jokes, that’s for sure.  

Q: What books has your group liked best over the years?

A: The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II By Gregory A. Freeman

The Game. Harvard, Yale and America in 1968 By George Howe Colt

Citizens of London By Lynne Olson 

Bad Blood By John Carreyrou

Red Notice By Bill Browder

Q: Logistics: Where do you meet? Who pays?

A: A private room at Jim’s golf club. Those of us who are also members just pay our respective shares, and the guys who aren’t members settle up with Jim somehow over time but I don’t know how that gets handled.

Q: So the key to the group’s success is, I take it, Jim?

A: Well the key is the selection of guys and that’s Jim. Jim has what you’d call “standing,” and I think that’s what got a lot of good guys to say yes. But what makes it great as an experience is that the guys are great, the discussions - about books or whatever, are great. Jim picked well. He excels at reading people. And that’s why we actually enjoy it and each other.

Want to forward this story? Go here.

Dish's Rules for Polite Society

New York Magazine never reached out to ask Dish to share her etiquette tips for their series. But the fall social season is in full swing. And who else is going to tell you that offering lube is just plain polite? And to remind you not to be a picky eater at somebody else’s dinner party. Or to stop asking your solo friends if they've "found someone special" every time you see them? Here Dish shares with you some of the things you need to know to navigate the social (and very social) world after 50.

Pamela Anderson: What Her Story Says About Us By Daisy Foster

Pamela Anderson made big news last week with her refusal to wear make-up, defying expectations for Paris Fashion Week. It was covered by fashion sites as well as major news outlets like The Los Angeles Times and CNN, and became a ’teachable moment’ about a woman taking control of her own narrative. But this bold move is far from the first, or most important, thing we’ve learned from her. If her recent documentary and memoir have taught us nothing, it’s what it means to survive a very full life–and keep a hopeful heart.

One unsuspecting evening in 1997, I trudged over to my writing partner’s several-story walkup in NYC’s Murray Hill to find him standing, remote control in hand, excitedly in front of the TV. Those were the days of large box televisions, with cable and a VCR strung to its back. As I took off my jacket and set down my laptop, he rewound and fast-forwarded the tape—the video squiggled and shrieked—before he turned to me and asked, “Have you seen the Pam and Tommy video yet?”

Of course I hadn’t. I hadn’t wanted to either. The tape was stolen sometime in 1996, so by now, it was copied and shared and, apparently, everyone had seen it but me. I’d heard about it, of course, but not paid too much attention. All I knew was that Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee had taped themselves gallivanting nude and having sex, mostly on a boat. This didn’t interest me in the slightest. “Dude…” my friend said, “you gotta see this…” He started the tape right at the most intimate moment, Tommy on top of Pam, her with the video camera. He climaxes and ejaculates on her. If memory serves, she kept repeating over and over that she loved him and he eventually states, wearily: “I love you…” My friend—who, if he hadn’t been an old friend would have officially been a creepy weirdo for suggesting this whole viewing session—turns to me and says, about Tommy Lee: “He’s fucking hung like a bear…”

But that wasn’t my takeaway. I felt that it was something I should not have seen. Appropriately, I hadn’t viewed a couple’s private sex tape before, and it just seemed wrong. At the time, there was a rumor that Pam and Tommy had possibly distributed this themselves for publicity, but I didn’t care. I didn’t need to see anymore.

Flash forward to February 2022, Hulu’s Pam & Tommy series is the most talked about new show. Lily James wore a breast plate and Sebastian Stan a prosthetic penis (that even talks). It’s a complete mockery of their lives and relationship. No surprise, Pamela Anderson had nothing to do with it. Why would she want to relive that horrific time in her life?

Her response was Pamela, a love story, an hour-plus documentary (released in January 2023) about her life and career, starting from her troubled childhood to the lucky breaks (combined with hard work ethic) that built a storied career in PlayboyBaywatch and then some.

If we’d been paying attention, we would have already known much of what the documentary teaches us, including the pain over her marriage to Lee (and the others that followed), as well as her and Lee’s attempts—and eventual failure—to repossess the tapes she and her husband never gave away in the first place. Other important takeaways include her ability to laugh when she’s the brunt of a joke (which she was publicly, often), her tireless advocacy for animals, and her fierce devotion to her two sons. People made a lot of money off of her and, as her son Brandon states in the documentary, she’s spent most of her life in debt.

Perhaps the greatest reminder is how, living her life in the public eye--some of it scantily clad--makes others think she doesn’t have rights to privacy. Or even her own self.

And that’s where we come in—you, me, all of us. When Pam was younger, so were we. Times, discussion, and the ability to discuss deeper topics has changed over the decades. Pamela wasn’t the first blonde to be treated like an object, bear the brunt of bad jokes, and she definitely won’t be the last.

Media created Pam and the media told us how to think. No matter how smart or how feminist you consider yourself, if you’re being honest, you followed.

What we do learn from the documentary is what a warrior she is.

More importantly, though few of us have the same exact experiences, there’s a universality in midlife that we can all relate to. Looking back at our first two or three decades, we were all beautiful with endless possibilities. The heartbreaks, though necessary, do change us. Life didn’t turn out the way we thought it was going to. But we have grown into strong and powerful creatures. Hopefully, like Pamela, we can stay pure at heart.

Want to forward this story? Go here.

Social Media I Loved This Week


@soulseedforall

@amysedaris

@joce_cova

@sexwithemily

@the.holistic.psychologist

@lianafinck

Dear Dish...

"Thank you for what you wrote this weekend in the latest edition of The Crush Letter, with the opening description of the conversation with your father. That was very moving, and I appreciated the vulnerability and honesty about it. It is indeed challenging to find words to describe how one feels in today’s current events, which are not only horrible and tragic, but nuanced and complex. It makes me feel that no matter what someone says or writes, it will be considered "incomplete" or be criticized, and so the safer path is to remain silent. Yet, we can‘t stay silent, we have to speak up, like you did. So thank you for that!

Best, Craig"


“I REALLY loved reading about you and your Dad in last week's letter. Really a beautiful piece.Lisa


Dear Craig and Lisa and the other CRUSH Readers who wrote me about last week’s very personal piece Geopolitical Conversations with my Father. I really appreciate hearing from you. It means a lot to me.

I am going to be leaving this topic for the future, but I appreciate that you appreciated me sharing this slice of my life with my aging Father. XOX, Dish

Song Of The Week

Sweet Sounds of Heaven By The Rolling Stones

No, I’m not, not goin’ to Hell

In some dusty motel

And I’m not, not goin’ down

In the dirt (Yes, yes, yes)

I’m gonna laugh, I’m gonna cry

Eat the bread, drink the wine

‘Cause I’m finally, finally quenchin’

My thirst, yeah

Listen to this video by tapping the snap

Dish Stanley XO,
Dish

If you’re watching The Golden Bachelor, please, please, please let us know your thoughts at the link below.

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If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help us grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend!

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