The Crush Letter No 145

. 15 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,

We’re more than half-way through January, CRUSHes. The longest month of the year. Who came up with the idea that this should be the month we go dry, anyway? As I said to my friend Diane, “I live a damp (i.e., little alcohol) life, so I don’t need to go dry.” My year got off slowly (and sickly) and has been a slog since, quite frankly. Hope you’re doing better than that.

This fall I spent a full weekend in New York with a girlfriend I’ve known since we were 16, Kate. Going to hear live music has been a shared passion of ours for over 40 years. We have gone to acoustic performances in shittab holes-in-the-wall caked in grime — and even more soul — where the only thing you’d dare to drink comes bottled. Most notably, Chris Smither at Johnny D’s in Somerville (now closed, sadly). Because we both love Nathaniel Rateliff, we also trekked to the most soul-less venue ever, Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Ledyard, CT.

Over our recent New York weekend we saw the jazz pianist Robert Glasper, who was in residence at the cozy Blue Note in New York’s West Village for the month of October. The night we were there Norah Jones joined him. One of the best nights of live music in my life, and not just because it was with Kate (though that was major). It turns out that Robert and Norah had attended jazz camp together for years, starting in junior high. (It’s like band camp only nerdier, they reported, but could that be true?) They had an obvious deep and easy rapport, and their ongoing, low-key, soft banter made you feel like you were part of something intimate and familiar. 

Robert told the story of being a student at The New School in 2001 when he walked by a practice hall where some cool piano notes were drifting out. He peaked in and saw Norah. “Hey Norah, hi! That sounds great. What is it?” “Oh, just something I’m working on. Trying to pull together an album and they let me use this space for a couple of days while I’m in town,” she responded. Seven months later, in February of 2002 Come Away With Me came out, making Norah a sudden major star at the age of 23.

Later they played a version of Take Off Your Cool, a 2003 song by the hip hop group Outkast featuring Norah on vocals. The minute it came on Kate and I looked at each other and started shaking our heads “yes” in unison. The version they played was dreamy and melodic. The lyrics are simple but powerful. “Baby, take off your cool / I wanna see you.” In the intro to the song Robert and Norah had a funny exchange about having to be around a lot of people in the industry who put on masks, trying too hard to be cool. “Honey, you were never like that,“ he said. “Don’t worry about that. Never cool.” “I know,” she said, “I’m Snorah. Just owning my thing.”

Occasionally when I’ve been on dates I’ve been tempted to say my own version of “Take off your cool” when I feel like my date was showing off, not being real. “I want to get a glimpse of who you really are,” I feel like saying. But the truth is, if I look closely in the mirror, I have to admit that I often do my own version of this self-protective dance. In my version I let my insecurity drive the show and shut down a bit, ask a lot of questions, put a high-beam on my date, while revealing little of significance about myself, displaying no vulnerability. It’s a painful place to be primarily because it doesn’t reflect who I truly am. But self-awareness is the first step toward healing, right? And, among many other things, this should remind me to be more compassionate about somebody else’s version of cool.

The OutKast version of Take Off Your Cool is this week’s Song of the Week.

Norah Jones at The Blue Note. Robert Glasper is to her left. October 13, 2023.

And, Crushes, can anyone help me with this? I received the “Ask Dish” question below, and it’s a doozy. I completely relate to it, as in I‘d like to know the answer myself.

“Dear Dish: Can you write about how to find friends who want to go out on the weekend for dinner, concerts, theater, etc., and aren’t driven by finding a romantic partner? That’s where I feel like I am right now, but my few single friends are women looking for men who are more interested in the “party“ scene than I am. Going to places where they are likely to meet available men who are looking. I’m newly single and in my 50’s. Thoughts?” XO, Nancy

This is a more complicated question than it appears at first blush. It almost hurts to read it, the whole thing was once so tender for me. The question only hints at how vulnerable and exposed we feel as solo’s on the weekends, in particular when you have gone from being partnered-up to single, but the world at large (and yours in particular) is primarily organized around couples. I have a friend who is adamant that if he doesn’t have a plan for a Saturday night, he’s a loser. (And, to give you some sense, any “most eligible bachelor list” anywhere he is at would have him at the top of that list. So this is a vulnerability that runs deep and defies rational thinking.) In addition to any sensitivity you may have around your romantic status, it also goes to the nature of your friendships, and to potential hazards around relying on friends for the “exposed weekend” periods who are focused on actively looking for somebody romantic to replace you with asap.

If you have any reactions, thoughts or suggestions to offer Nancy, please share them by pressing the link below (it’s anonymous!). Or email me at

Okay, we’ve got a lot for you today, so let’s get going. Thanks for being here! Love you!

In This Letter. +Leaving the Door Open, Hoping That You’re Coming Through By Dish Stanley Dish ponders the events surrounding a man she craved but didn’t sleep with, and comes up with a better strategy going forward. +Re-Reading Erotic Lit Classics: Venus in Furs by Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch. Reviewed By Christian Pan This classic explores a complex psychology of desire, one where arousal and pleasure are almost indistinguishable from punishment, slavery, and loss of control. +This Must Be The Place. By Lisa Ellex With Miami’s heat and humidity making it impossible to engage in outdoor activity on my days off, combined with my limited budget until the show opened, I would spend my leisure time digging through the local thrift shops. And so began my dirty love affair with thrifting. +ADULTING: New Year’s “Resolution” Version. By Dish Stanley +Social Media I Loved This Week +Our Song of the Week I wanna see you

Leaving the Door Open, Hoping That You’re Coming Through

In this story, Dish ponders a man she craved but didn’t sleep with and devises a strategy, with a little help from her friends, on a bolder approach.

”I'ma leave the door open, girl

Hoping that you feel the way I feel 

and that you want me like I want you tonight, baby.” 

From Leave the Door Open by Anderson .Paak, Bruno Mars and Silk Sonic

I have a good friend, Lisa, who tells me repeatedly about my dating life, “Just keep walking through the open doors, Dish. Love will be there eventually, on the other side.” 

She is not, of course, talking literally about bedroom doors, as in the sexy, smooth Silk Sonic song I quote above. She means it in the metaphorical sense. Keep my heart open, stay positive, loving and calm. Believe in abundance, don’t fret about scarcity. Equally important is the inverse, which is implied: walk past the closed doors - the ones who are toxic, not fully available, aren’t focused on their physical or spiritual wellness or who don’t reciprocate your romantic interest. 

Although, as I write that, I recall that while at Lisa’s house this week, just as she repeated the bit to me about walking through open doors I got a text from my friend Anne, who wanted to fix me up. “I want you to meet Bob Smith. Widowed. But do you know him already? He belongs to your golf club.” I didn’t, but no sooner had I read the text aloud to Lisa that she had opened the club’s member directory and, shaking her head emphatically, said “Oh god no. Not for you. Schlub. And this is a photo he chose to put up, mind you. We’re not required to put photo‘s up.”

But other than the Schlub, whose door I should walk by, Lisa’s theory on my dating life is to be out and about and open. Oh, and have some flings. “I think you should consider having some flings, Dish, just to keep your energy sexy and open.” 

To say that I’ve been doing anything but flinging would be an understatement. Sometimes I look back at the ill-fated (but often fun!) romantic relationships I’ve had over my 50’s and I feel frozen. Like I can’t possibly live through something else failing, and I‘ve learned a lot about myself but don’t yet trust myself well enough to tell what might be good. Other times I’m able to put a positive spin on it: I’m not frozen, I’m working on myself, breaking patterns and being patient until I meet somebody I feel truly aligned with. But Lisa’s open door business stuck with me. Of course, in Lisa‘s formulation, it requires taking action - walking through.

It just so happens that the day after seeing Lisa, I had my friends Allison and Karen over for dinner. Karen’s family had just gone to Sugarbush to ski, and she was reporting on the snow. “Fine the first two days, then not great, but we got a college tour of UVM in, so it was still productive.” Then she went right into the place most everyone who loves me goes to these days “How’s dating going, Dish?”

Lisa’s “open door” on my mind, I said ”Funny you should mention Sugarbush, because I dated somebody from New York a few years back who loved two things, his season’s tickets to the Rangers and skiing. Our first date was dinner in Manhattan (lovely), our second was a Ranger‘s game (terrific fun) and our third was a weekend at his place in Sugarbush.”

Fred had been introduced to me by a close male friend. “Top drawer, Dish. True gentleman. He joined for one of the ski trips to Kitz that you missed and put up with the whole crew, which you know means he can roll with it. Also caring and well-read, as you like them.” 

Continue reading here

Re-Reading Erotic Lit Classics: Venus in Furs

by Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch. Reviewed By Christian Pan

Venus in furs - Von Sacher-Masoch, Leopold
Book Link Here

In this series Christian Pan re-discovers classic erotic literature from a current perspective.

The word “masochism” originated in the late 19th century, coined by German neurologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing to describe a psychosexual disorder wherein an individual derives pleasure and sexual gratification from pain or humiliation. His inspiration came from the surname of Austrian nobleman and writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, best known for his novella Venus in Furs. 

Blending philosophy with erotica, Sacher-Masoch´s book explores a complex psychology of desire, one where arousal and pleasure are almost indistinguishable from punishment, slavery, and loss of control. Framed as a story within a story, Venus in Furs opens with an unnamed narrator experiencing a confusing dream of the goddess of love. Upon awakening, he seeks out his friend and fellow nobleman Severin to discuss it, perhaps to uncover its symbolic meanings. The main narrative of the book thus begins, as Severin shares the history of an unusual painting he possesses: in it lies Wanda, a noblewoman who lies naked on an ottoman save for a fur coat and a whip in her hand, with Severin kneeling at her feet in complete devotion. 

Like our unnamed narrator (and, presumably, the author), Severin feels constrained by the etiquettes and rules of 19th century Vienna, longing for a romanticized pagan past versus the strict Christian edicts of his present. In particular, he feels that the sexes are inherently imbalanced, and that men and women each are using different forms of power over the other, to fulfill their innermost needs. When Severin meets Wanda, he finds a kindred spirit through the sharing of these dialogues, inspiring a profound level of love and passion within him: so much so that Severin frequently describes his feelings for her as being a form of madness. 

Continue reading here

This Must Be The Place.

‘This Must Be The Place’ is a feature where PrimeCrush-ers share the one special place they love to go.

This Must Be The Place by Lisa Ellex

A little bit about me…

Smack dab in the middle of Miami’s 1980s regentrification boom, I was living in the historic Fontainebleau Hotel where I was rehearsing a musical revue that was soon to open in their nightclub.  The town was by no means the Miami of today but rather a desolate construction site that spread for miles up, down, and around Collins Avenue. The work negatively impacted what was left of local businesses and, with nowhere to go, the cast was confined to the Fontainebleau where we worked, slept, and had three meals a day. To wind down after a long day of rehearsal, I would join the only other female cast member for a cocktail in the hotel lobby bar where male bar patrons assumed we were prostitutes. After we set them straight, the men would ask what we were doing in the hotel.  Not wanting them to know I was performing there, I told them I was an archaeologist (a respectable occupation I secretly fantasized about for years) attending a local convention. This was a partial truth.  You see, my recent move to Miami had turned me into an archaeologist of sorts. With Miami’s heat and humidity making it impossible to engage in outdoor activity on my days off, combined with my limited budget until the show opened, I would spend my leisure time digging through the local thrift shops. And so began my dirty love affair with thrifting. 

The place I love most…

…is the place I unearth the treasure. The Texas Historical Commission describes an archaeologist as “a scientist who studies past peoples and cultures by excavating and examining material.”  As any good archeologist will tell you, many questions are raised when examining unearthed finds. Like the circa mid-80s special edition Chanel purse.  I often wonder what became of the woman who previously owned it. I wonder what she looked like, on what occasion she wore the purse, and what she did for a living in 1986 that afforded her to drop $1700 on something not much larger than a pulp fiction paperback.  I imagine how she would scream if she knew I scored it for (drumroll…) $4.  I wonder, too, about the woman who let go of those Salvatore Ferragamo pumps I snatched for $20, and if they pinched her toes. Could she have purchased them on a honeymoon in Florence? And speaking of Florence, I still mourn for the brown and white Palazzo pants I purchased somewhere near Fiesole for 15 Euros in 1993 that went missing after one of my many moves. On that same trip, I was made dizzy when in Zurich I found a circus poster (I collect them) depicting the famed clown, Bello Nock, a seventh-generation circus performer and descendant of the family that founded Switzerland’s famous Circus Nock in the 18th century (I stuffed it in my suitcase and hoped for the best).

The reason I go back…

Like any addict, I’m forever chasing that first high. Once inside a thrift shop I enter a meditative state that blocks out the rest of the world and delivers a delicious serotonin-dopamine-oxytocin cocktail. My fellow thrifters know exactly what I’m talking about.  It’s all about the hunt of the haute.

Continue reading here

ADULTING: New Year’s “Resolution” Version. By Dish Stanley

Shit I Need to Do That I Don’t Want to Do That I Am Still Going to Do

  • Fix my printer
  • Get copies of documents & photos of my new roof to my home insurance company to get a credit for this year
  • Get updated passwords to my parents’ bank accounts so that I can make sure their “trains keep running” in the event of an emergency
  • Update my budget
  • Mammogram, Pelvic Exam, Knee MRI (grrrrrrr)

Shit I Should Do That I Have Already Procrastinated on for a Year+ So Do I *Really* Need to Do Them?

  • Fix the crack in the front window of my car
  • Review & challenge the claims denied by my health insurer
  • Put a cap on my cracked wisdom tooth

Shit That, Let’s Be Honest, I’m Never Going to Do

  • Clean my garage out. Or my storage unit, for that matter
  • Weed out old books to make room for new books

Shit I Already Got Done

  • Set up a new SONOS system
  • Cooked and froze batches of homemade chicken stock and vegetable soup

Social Media I Loved This Week

@lizlangeofficial “Doris Day in ‘Do Not Disturb.’ 1965.” Fabulous.




Song of the Week

Take Off Your Cool by Norah Jones & Andre 3000 of OutKast

Listen Here

Dish Stanley XO,

QUIVER. Sexual Debut Stories. By Lisa Ellex
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
DEVOUR {things to watch, read, and listen to}
In our monthly DEVOUR column we share all the things we think you should eat up. From Natalie: Listen. I hope CRUSH Music Lovers have heard of SoFarSounds. A friend of mine left Spotify to run SoFarSounds after being at Spotify (in order to grow, a song suggestion algorithm that
Re-Reading Erotic Lit Classics: Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. Reviewed By Christian Pan
In this series Christian Pan re-discovers classic erotic literature from a current perspective. What is freedom? Not just in terms of determining what sorts of intimate and sexual relationships one wishes to enjoy, but how can we meaningfully articulate a vision for living a thriving, full, contented life, in all
This Must Be The Place.
‘This Must Be The Place’ is a new feature where PrimeCrush-
HIT LIST: My Top Five Priorities for 2024
Here’s what I’m digging into this new year. What about you? The People I Love My raison d’etre. Plus, it worked out well as a conscious priority for me in 2023. Reading Still rebounding from Covid, travel was big for me last year. I am being pulled
Reports from the Edge. By Jane Boon
Edge Play author Jane Boon’s stylish and witty column “Reports from the Edge” offers advice and encouragement on how to escape the bonds of convention, and how to pursue the unexpected and the exciting.

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend! And I'd love to have you join us on instagram.

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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