The Crush Letter No 152: Kiwi Hangover

. 16 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,

Well I’m back from New Zealand, and what a trip. My friend Patti snapped the photo below while we were at dinner on a beautiful spot along the ocean. Also, you should know that kiwi‘s are the nicest, friendliest people I’ve met anywhere.

The re-entry to my “real world” has been fairly smooth, but you’ll soon see why I’m calling this Letter “Kiwi Hangover.” I took in a lot of ”content” on the long flights, and have recommendations. If you have time to read only one thing, scan down to my plug for Katie Fogarty’s podcast episode with Laura Tremaine on friendships for grown-ups (and my take on Tremaine’s philosophy that friendship is a “to do”). Because your friends are important. Enjoy!

In This Letter. +Dish's Hot Thots. It Takes Time (and Tennis?) To Really Know Somebody. +Things I Overheard On My 17 Hour Flight from Auckland, NZ to New York City. By Dish Stanley “I know you think he’s a despicable prick …” +What I Read While On My 17 Hour Flight from Auckland, NZ to NYC. Delta of Venus by Anais Nin. Reviewed By Christian Pan Add to this Nin´s exceptionally bohemian lifestyle, living in Paris and New York with numerous lovers including writers Henry Miller and Gore Vidal and psychoanalyst Otto Rank. +A Few of the Podcasts I Listened to While On My 17 Hour Flight from Auckland, NZ to NYC. By Dish Stanley “Friendship is a ‘to do’.” +Social Media I Loved This Week. +Our Song of the Week Give me light

Dish's Hot Thots.

It Takes Time (and Tennis?) To Really Know Somebody.

Have you ever met somebody and felt, instantly, as if you knew them all your life? Right. Me too. Perhaps they remind you of somebody else you love. Or loved, and still long for. A best friend from my teens who remained an intimate friend until she died (of cancer) three years ago always called me “love.” “How are you, my love?” were her first words whenever we spoke. (I have a message she left me on February 26, 2020 still saved in my voicemail. It’s the last message she ever left me. “Hello, my love,” it begins. “It‘s awful out. You’re probably reading. Or cooking.”)

Any time anyone calls me “love” — the overweight gas attendant where I fill up my tank, some guy offhandedly on a second date, the Scottish caddie master at my golf club — it’s as if I’ve been caught by an invisible line that’s reeling me in.

But who knows, really. Often times it’s not clear to me the precise source of this feeling of immediate familiarity.

I do think you can pick up a whole lot about somebody by observing them very closely. I moved to a new part of the country in the last year and in addition to meeting new friends, I’ve been (as you can’t possibly have missed) dating a lot. I’ve crossed paths with a lot of unfamiliar people, yet I’ve had that feeling of instant familiarity with a few. Enjoy it, I tell myself. It feels so good. But at the same time, there’s a voice in my head that reminds me that it takes time, experience and seeing a person in a number of scenarios to know them well.

I was reminded of this not too long ago while playing doubles (tennis) with “Samantha,” somebody I’d met through a friend and spent days (biking, tennis) and evenings (dinners multiple times a week) with over two summers. We’d also gone skiing together out west. We’d shared everything there was to tell about ourselves, and I felt like I knew her. But we were in New York at the same time recently and decided to grab a doubles game. It wasn’t until my partner Cindy called Samantha’s kick serve out that I saw a side of Samantha I’d never seen before. With Cindy’s call, which was exceedingly politely delivered (“just out,” she said, while pointing her finger up, even though the ball sailed past the line), Cindy and I had won the set. To that point I had never beaten Samantha, and knew few people who had, as she had played tennis for the University of Texas during college.

Samantha, I learned, doesn’t like losing. Post-match drinks were a snarly, curt disaster. Cindy texted me after: “Thanks for thinking of me, but don’t hesitate to ‘not think of me’ the next time you’re playing with Samantha. Only John McEnroe can get away with those court antics.”

It’s not only that tennis match, either. As CRUSH Readers know, I just returned from a trip with friends to New Zealand. New Zealand is a long trip. Fun! But there were some interesting dynamics for sure, one involving an orange can opener marked “twisted” (brought on (no doubt) by a state of “hanger“), but it’s too fresh for me to re-live just yet.

But it has all made me wonder. When can you feel like you’ve got a good handle on someone? I’ve come up with several situations that tend to ‘reveal’ who people are.

When You Know Somebody

  • You see how they react when they beat you.
  • You see how they react when they lose to you.
  • You see how they react when you inadvertently, accidentally seriously fuck up something that matters to them (like spilling something on their new white carpet?).
  • You see how they react when the world fucks with their plans (traveling with them has a way of revealing this, but so does getting stuck in traffic on your way to a concert featuring their favorite artist).
  • You see how they react when you respectfully express a point of view that is at odds with their point of view.
  • You have hosted them in your home for at least a weekend (or made the effort to plan most of the details of a trip). Or they have hosted you …
  • You have to split / reconcile the costs of something big and multi-faceted (a big trip across the globe, for instance).
  • You get lost somewhere with them.

CRUSH Readers: Do you have any other suggestions/thoughts on “when you know a person?”

Things I Overheard On My 17 Hour Flight from Auckland, NZ to New York City. By Dish Stanley

“I’m 64 and I’ve never been to New York. I’ve wanted to go my whole life! Can’t wait to try my first In-N-Out burger.”

“Oh my god. What happened to Meg Ryan‘s face?” {Ryan’s latest rom com was an ‘in-flight entertainment’ offering}

”Honey. I know you think he’s a despicable prick, but you have to make an effort. Our daughter is marrying him again.”

“I can’t have lactose, flour, sugar or animal-based protein. Or iceberg lettuce.”

“See?!? Only 14 hours left.”

What I Read While On My 17 Hour Flight from Auckland, NZ to NYC.

Delta of Venus - Nin, Anaïs
Book linked here

Re-Reading Erotic Lit Classics: Delta of Venus

by Anais Nin. Reviewed By Christian Pan

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

The French-Cuban-American writer Anais Nin is one of the more complicated literary figures from the previous century, especially in relation to her contributions to the history of modern erotic fiction. In nearly all of the critical praise of her work as being “feminist” or writing “erotica from a female gaze”, there seems to be a collapsing between what is on the page and key episodes from her exotic biography, as if the two were one and the same. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that a significant portion of her total literary output was as a diarist, publishing and revising the journals she began as a child and which she continued to write and rewrite throughout her life. Add to this Nin´s exceptionally bohemian lifestyle, living in Paris and New York with numerous lovers including writers Henry Miller and Gore Vidal and psychoanalyst Otto Rank. She also was a bigamist (she married her second husband before divorcing her first), was rumored to be bisexual, and had an incestuous affair with her estranged father when she was 30 years old. Traces of all of these and more can be found in her writings. 

Perhaps no volume captures the complexity and contradictions of her persona, and how these appear in her fiction, than Delta of Venus. Written in the 1940s but only published posthumously in 1977 after her death, these fifteen stories were commissioned by the then-anonymous “collector”--later revealed to be wealthy oil tycoon Roy M. Johnson of Oklahoma–to be erotic, with as much explicit sex as possible. Influenced by the surrealist movement in visual art as well as novelists like DH Lawrence and Marcel Proust, Nin wanted her bespoke pornography to be more literary, and readers today can sense such aspirations within her prose. In her journals, Nin describes some of her process in approaching the creation of these tales. In addition to her own artistic imagination, Nin listened to stories shared by her friends, read the Kama Sutra, and more. And while the prose of Delta of Venus is frequently sensual, overall these stories tend to haunt more than they arouse.

However, calling Delta of Venus “feminist” or even “erotic” can be difficult. True, the collector´s purported commission rate of $1 per page (adjusted for inflation, that would be about $21.50 per page today) is pretty excellent for Nin from a financial standpoint, though it´s far from liberatory. Further, calling Delta of Venus as being “written from the female gaze” implies agency, as if Nin had just decided to embark on a new literary project, to upend the traditional conventions permeating erotic literature up to that point. The truth is that Nin was broke, and was being paid to write short erotic stories for a specific and singular (male) readership of one. 

Continue reading here

A Few of the Podcasts I Listened to While On My 17 Hour Flight from Auckland, NZ to NYC. By Dish Stanley

Well, as you can imagine, I had a lot of time on the round trip flights to and from New Zealand (over 32 hours of flying time) to catch up on things I’ve been meaning to listen to (and other content). Here are some things I’d recommend (with more to come in next week’s Letter).

On Friendship.

Listen/Podcast. A Certain Age Hosted by Katie Fogarty: Friendships for Grownups: How to Make, Keep and Release Friendships in Midlife with Laura Tremaine (Episode 10/30/23 #158)

This conversation between host Katie Fogarty and author Laura Tremaine was a thoughtful and productive dive into understanding friendship at this stage of our lives. I recommend listening to the whole thing, but here were my biggest take-aways.

Tremaine thinks there is value in coming up with a “Friendship Philosophy.” I agree that taking the time to come up with some tenets you follow (or aspire to) has value in and of itself in thinking through the kind of friendships you want to have, the kind of friend you want to be and perhaps even, whether you measure up. I’m going to do that right away, but for now, here are three that I’ve cribbed off of Tremaine’s five beliefs. (And, as she urged, I am coming up with an additional two of my own.)

  • friendship is a “to do.” If you don’t make a meaningful effort to stay in touch with friends, you will lose touch. Maybe that’s okay with some friends, but (at least for me) it’s definitely not okay with others. So just like my other “to do’s” I started adding two half-hour slots in my calendar each week to reach out to friends (usually by text). This is “set-aside” time, so it’s in addition to whatever texting I’m already doing naturally with friends. During that “set-aside” time, I consider who is going through a crisis and might want some humor (or just to know I’m thinking of them), who I haven’t been in touch with lately, who I’d like to schedule something with AND (always, because I know how it feels) who is solo and living alone (meaning without another adult). I make sure to reach out to these friends if I haven’t been in touch.
    • Tremaine shared a meaningful anecdote about how she checked out on a friend who was going through a hard time with a sick parent because her default nature is “out of sight out of mind.” The friend was overwhelmed and hadn’t been in touch, and so she had just dropped off Tremaine’s radar. When they finally caught up, her friend called her out on the lack of support, which was the prompt that made her re-evaluate how she does friendships.
  • show up. The last few years have seen a surge in the meme that it’s okay to cancel on your friends if you prefer a night in alone. It makes cancelling on your friends a laudable thing, and pits self-care against tending to friendships. Tremaine believes this has resulted in an increase in the acceptability of cancelling. The truth is that friendships are critical to self-care, and routinely cancelling them damages your friendships. It sends a signal that you don’t value the friendship. “Just go,” she says, is her motto. Mine is similar. “Show up.” You may be tired, but the friendship is worth it, in the long run.
  • believe the best of your friends. This is an obvious point, yet another one that is easy in concept but harder to implement. We all occasionally drop the ball, inadvertently hurt somebody’s feelings, misunderstand the true signal/message, overlook the important need. Interpreting our friend’s actions in the most generous light is the unspoken, yet powerful, gift we give that makes good friendships last. It’s also a good reminder of our need to for humility around our own shortcomings.

Making new friends in midlife - the joys & challenges

Tremaine said, “Old friends get all the glory but new friends are HUGE.“

Why? “New friends … are meeting you wherever you are [now]. Most of us have fought really hard to become whoever we are and new friends like you as that person.”

New friends see you slightly (or a great deal) differently, offer the opportunity for you to bring out, or explore, different sides of you, expose you to new perspectives and ideas. New friends are as exciting as old friends are comforting - you need both! New friends keep you open and fresh.

We all have a tendency to think ”I have no room/time in my life for new friends.” But you’re missing out if you don’t have any room for new friends! Don’t have a closed circle, Tremaine says. “Remain open-hearted in order for this to be a really rich period of life.”

Men tend to put a lot of their relationship capital into one person: their wives. This is both risky and limiting. (I’ve wrote about this in Don’t Touch My Hat: Older Men & Friendship, Loneliness, Depression.)

ON Parenting. And Confidence.

Listen/Podcast. Huberman Lab. Dr. Becky Kennedy: Protocols for Excellent Parenting & Improving Relationships of All Kinds (Episode 2/26/24 #165)

There’s a lot of truly excellent information in here about parenting that’s relevant to being a parent to adult children. As it turns out, it’s relevant to being an adult generally, as we go through life bumping up into colleagues, friends, family, romantic partners. Here’s evidence, an observation on what true confidence is:

Link to confidence clip here.

On Stoicism.

Listen/Podcast. Daily Stoic. It’s Producing Something Good / 20 Inspiring Moments of Stoicism (Episode 2/27/24 #2,2024)

In this episode of the Daily Stoic, after providing a moment of stoicism on the value of getting through suffering (“the obstacle is the way”), Daily Stoic’s host Ryan Holiday spins through 20 “tenets” of stoicism. A terrific refresh (or introduction if stoicism is new to you). Another recent Daily Stoic podcast I’d recommend: Robert Greene and Ryan Holiday on Ego and Power (broadcast of a live discussion).

Watched (& It’s Missable!). Meg Ryan directed and stars, alongside David Duchovny, in the utterly missable rom com. What Happens Later. In it, Meg Ryan (as Wilhelmina Davis but really, as just the grown-up Meg Ryan she has played in all her earlier rom coms) runs into David Duchovny (as William Davis but really, as just the grown-up David Duchovny). ”When people break up there’s the thing that they tell each other, the thing they tell their friends and then there’s the truth,” says Meg Ryan (I mean Wilhelmina Davis) early on. Over the course of running into each other when stranded at an airport going in opposite directions, they discover the truth about why they really split thirty years earlier. Only watchable by die-hard Meg Ryan (qua Meg Ryan) fans, and those trying to dissuade their friendly kiwi neighbors from chatting while on a 17 hour flight from Auckland, NZ to NYC.

Oh, and I stopped in NYC On My Way Home. Here’s what I recommend.

Saw: An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Amy Herzog. Circle on the Square Theater. A powerful performance by Jeremy Strong in the lead role of Dr. Thomas Stockman, a small-town doctor who had made a discovery that could negatively impact the fortunes of its new health spa, and the town. I appreciated certain elements of Herzog’s adaptation, which modernize and shorten the play, including the elimination of the role of Stockman’s wife. But Herzog also changed the ending, replacing the play’s most famous line “The strongest man in the world is the man who stands alone,” with “We just have to imagine that the water will be clean and safe and the truth will be valued.” With that, she elevated the vehicle Ibsen used (environmental harm) to convey the play’s fundamental theme (the duty of the individual in a democracy to adhere to truth and morality) over the theme itself.

Ate at: Chalong (Thai). I will never pull my hair out over finding some place great at a reasonable price before or after seeing something in NYC’s theater district again. I met three friends at this lively Thai restaurant on Ninth Avenue and 49th. We shared all our dishes and had a fabulous meal (and conversation). Our favorite dishes were the Steamed Chilean Sea Bass, Green Curry Brisket and the Wok of Green. Reservations required.

Social Media I Loved This Week






Song of the Week

Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) by George Harrison

What could be more quintessential George Harrison that this 1973 release? He was deep into studying Hindu spirituality during this period, and it followed My Sweet Lord. I love it. Give me love …

Listen Here

We will be back again next week with more of our regular programming, including an Ask Dish follow-up question on how to be friends with people you met through dating. Have a wonderful week.

Dish Stanley XO,

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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.

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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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