The Crush Letter No 147: Big Birthdays, Long Love, Building A Music Collection

. 11 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,

Welcome to February, dearest CRUSH Readers. We finally made it through January. Already I am feeling so. much. better. As if my most dreaded final from my least favorite class during the hardest year of law school (first) (duh) is behind me.

Hope you’re feeling groovier too. Lots for you today, including the most wonderful book on building a music collection. Enjoy!

In This Letter. +Dish's Hot Thots. I want to always feel joyful about aging, in the same way that I want my soufflé’s to always rise. +Open Door Poll Results: Was Fred ‘Inviting’ Dish To Join Him In Bed? Crush Readers were unanimous. +Dear Dish... Truth be told, when I read the New York Times I often just skip straight to the Letters to the Editor +Extended Encounters: "Lucy and Tony" By Lisa Ellex +A Recommendation For Serious Music Lovers: Building The Perfect Music Collection, A Book By John Kirk. Valentine’s Day is almost here, CRUSHES. Got a music lover in your life? +PRIMECRUSH Toy Tester Report: The Maude Cone It was a good experience for us to try this out as a couple, I’ll say that too. +Social Media I Loved This Week +Our Song of the Week Your lips, my lips / Apocalypse

Dish's Hot Thots: Big Birthdays With A Bang.

A couple of friends who will be having landmark birthdays in 2024 have organized special ‘friend trips‘ to mark the occasion. A long weekend in London, a week-long hike along the legendary Camino de Santiago, a trip to honor their heritage (Ireland).

As I wrote in an earlier CRUSH Letter, my family does not make a big fuss over birthdays, which has always been okay with me. Truthfully, as the years pass, it has become increasingly okay. When we were younger (many decades younger) there were some obvious reasons to celebrate — we might even be gaining things (a license, the ability to drink or vote). Of course, we continue to gain all our lives (self-awareness, confidence, a give less of a f*ck attitude, judgment, patience), but when marking a birthday at this stage, for me it is nearly impossible to not also acknowledge what I have lost (big and small, people, things and capabilities), and to consider what I will lose (like taut skin, to emphasize only the most superficial).

I do sometimes feel like an imposter with my “joyful aging” messaging, because it’s more of a meta feeling and it certainly doesn’t get applied to my actual birthday. I don’t always feel joyful about aging. I want to always feel that way, in the same way I want my soufflé’s to always rise. But it’s like the last time I served a cheese soufflé at a dinner party (alongside braised short ribs), it didn’t. And I don’t.

However you do it, one way we know that our feelings about birthdays get more complicated as we age is that we begin to consider our attitude about birthdays at all, and how we are going to mark them. I believe that marking a big birthday in such a significant way is a power move. It is hard to imagine doing it myself. I‘m a coward about getting older. When I am with my best friend since the age of 16, I won’t even let her utter our ages out loud. “Shit, Katie, you promised never to say it out loud,” I laugh.

But I admire facing a big birthday head on, with a journey surrounded by close friends. I am honored to be included, and hope to join for as many pilgrimages as I can. Among the many other gifts these gatherings will offer is the possibility that I can draft off my friends’ attack-dog energy over their birthdays.

Some days you feel strong and confident to lead the parade. Some days you get carried forward by the energy of those who love you. I used to believe I always had to be strong. Perhaps the greatest wisdom I’ve gained is that I don’t. I have learned to lean into the energy and love that has “drafted me” along. To receive it, and feel lucky that I am offered so very much.

Extended Encounters. A Personal Story About Long-term Love. By Lisa Ellex

Her one-night stand lasted for a three-decades-long story, but we want to hear YOURS. In Extended Encounters, Lisa Ellex talks to couples who have been together for upwards of thirty years. If you and your partner are among the fortunate few whose relationship has been witness to seven presidential elections, 19 wars, a global pandemic, and Keith Richards falling out of a coconut tree then Lisa would love to hear from you

 "Lucy and Tony"

When a squirrel abruptly brought Lucy (a hair salon owner) and Tony (a retired lineman) together, everyone thought they were nuts (pun intended).  After 37 years and some very dark days, the couple still feel the same excitement for each other as they did on that fateful day their worlds (literally) collided.

Lucy and Tony did not meet in the typical way of most couples of their generation. There was no drunken meeting in a singles’ bar, no sweaty dance at a disco, no flirty encounter beside the workplace water cooler, and no awkward blind date. Their introduction was the result of a rush hour car accident that was caused by a squirrel.

Lucy, a youthful and energetic woman in her 60s, is eager to start the story:  “I’m driving my brand new 1986 Toyota Celica home from the dealership and I’m not even five minutes from home when this squirrel comes out of nowhere.  So I slow down to let him pass and – wham! – I get hit hard from behind.”

Without missing a beat, Tony chimes in . “She didn’t slow down.  She stopped short while we were driving about 40 miles an hour.”

Continue reading here

A Recommendation For Serious Music Lovers: Building The Perfect Music Collection, A Book By John Kirk.

Sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, my father and I were driving somewhere and talking about music … most times I would act as deejay … I can’t remember where or when, but during one of these sessions I turned to him and said, ‘Dad, I bet you I can name ten thousand songs and the artist who performed the song.’”

Learn more about the book & author by tapping the image above.

I first became aware of John Kirk’s intensely serious passion about building a perfect digital music collection around 2008, when he published a blog in which he discussed and rated a wide range of popular music. At that time, he had opined on what must have been over 5,000 songs. By 2009 it reached 8,200. His collection covered periods that started earlier than my own interest in music had begun and extended more broadly, but there was so much there that delved into the periods, musicians and styles I loved the most: rock, soul, rhythm & blues, popular, blues, jazz. As a subscriber, I was always thrilled to get the ping that alerted me he had added a song to his collection.

I was thrilled to learn in December that John published Building The Perfect Music Collection. It is the culmination of his 18-year obsession over curating popular music. For those of us who love reading a smart, opinionated, highly versed person’s take on a subject we enjoy as amateurs, it is a pure delight. In it, among many other things, John presents ”the perfect music collection,” his digital library of what represents, in his view, the “best 12,400 songs.“ A large-scale, gorgeous book of heft, in it John shares the story of how he became interested in music as a collector, as well as his very personal, yet analytical and criteria-based approach to listening to and evaluating music. Like any other form of art, John admits that how you pick what you love in music is highly personal. But there is nothing arbitrary about his collection.

Continue reading here.

Open Door Poll Results: An Invitation?

100% of CRUSH Readers who took the poll responded YES.

A place for all of our "letters to the editor"

Dear Dish...

And, related to the subject matter of the poll, Mary sent in this ‘Dear Dish’ Letter.

Dear Dish:

I loved reading the Dear Dish letters last week. Truth be told, when I read the New York Times I often just skip straight to the Letters to the Editor under an article, so I’m like that. Often the letters reacting to the story are as insightful as the stories themselves. And so it was last week. I loved seeing the differing reactions to the Open Door article. I have to say that I would never (never!) have walked through that door. And I was glad, relieved, and impressed with the ‘Dear Dish’ letter {from Samuel} that recognized (under the facts as you laid them out) that it placed all the burden on you. In that sense it was not at all gentlemanly as an invitation, if it in fact was one.


PrimeCrush Toy Tester Report: The Maude Cone

We're back today with more PrimeCrush Toy Tester reviews – sharing our readers' reviews of the Maude Cone. The Maude Cone is a small (approximately 4.25 inches long) non-vibrating toy for anal stimulation. It is made of a soft silicone surface and has a balanced, easy feel. It’s very “friendly and approachable.” Use only water-based lubes with this toy.

Here’s what the PrimeCrush Toy Testers had to say about the Maude Cone:

Would you recommend Maude Cone to other CRUSH Readers?

3 out of 3 toy testers said “Yes."

Tell us whether you enjoyed your Maude Cone.

My partner and I are just getting started with this toy. Anal is fairly new to both of us and the size and materials of this plug have made it very fun and easy to experiment. Although it's small(er), the sensation is still awesome. Easy cleaning too. It was a good experience for us to try this out as a couple, I’ll say that too. Fun, intimate. Love it! - “CJ”

“The thing is, once I got this as part of the PrimeCrush Sex Toy Tester program I figured I should try it. I am not one who would have proactively gone out and bought this — sought it out. I explained to my partner that it was “my job” to try all the toys in my Toy Tester box, so we spent a night playing with it. Slowly and with lube. And then we tried it again (on the weekend). And then we tried it again the next weekend. You get the picture.  Do I love anal? I’m not sure yet but what I do love is the fun my partner and I had trying something new. It’s like reading the 101 Kinky book! The act of discovery together is a gift of intimacy in and of itself. 

PS: As for lube with this we like the Sliquid Soul (organic) not the Sliquid Sizzle for anal play (omg, please, the plug was enough “sizzle” we didn’t need the extra warmth). The Sliquid (natural) is thicker than other lubes we’ve tried." Susan

Even if you don't care to plug it all the way in, great size and shape for anal dildo, fun too - “Harry”

Song of the Week

Apocalypse by Cigarettes After Sex

Is ‘Cigarettes After Sex’ pretty much the most perfectly evocative name for a band whose sound is all about immersing you in romance and euphoria? Yes. Yes it is. For no obviously discernible reason, their 2017 song Sunsetz (“We wander through a foreign town / Strangely there’s nobody else around / So you open your dress and show me your tits”) was all over my instagram feed this week. That is not our Song of the Week. Apocalypse is.

Apocalypse was released as the second single from their 2017 debut album. It only hit the charts in 2022 as a result of being used for various memes on tik tok. It has a lovely, ethereal if not upbeat sound. “Got the music in you baby / Tell me why / You’ve been locked in there forever / And you just can’t say good bye.” It was written by the band’s vocalist, Greg Gonzalez, who has said that it is about talented people who get stuck in their hometowns for whatever reason.

Listen Here

Here's a link to their Tiny Desk concert from 2017:

Social Media I Loved This Week



Dish Stanley XO,

Leaving the Door Open, Hoping That You’re Coming Through. By Dish Stanley
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
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
Songs That Make You Wanna F*ck.
An occasional pop-up where we share the songs that make you want to bang. Got one? Send it to me at

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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