The Crush Letter No 17

. 11 min read

Hello Crush,

It's the week end again! Sigh, a summer Saturday morning. The whole week end stretched out before us. First thing I'm going to do is take my dogs for a walk. Here they are, Lola and Rikki, looking very eager to get up. ;-)

A few of you asked about the Japanese wellness retreat I wrote about in last week's Letter. It opened last year in Water Mill on Long Island - Shou Sugi Ban House. It's a splurge, but great for a very quiet few-day retreat, particularly if you like Japanese style. If you go, make sure you ask for a room with a hinoki soaking tub (a wooden one, like the one I showed you last week).

If you're new here (welcome!), I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies. For more about me and why we're here go here.

In This Letter.  +Quiver. Sexual Debut Stories. A new series by writer Lisa Ellex where she and her subjects candidly discuss and reflect upon their “sexual debut” all these years later.  +Hand Job.  Just in time for summer, Mary Palm researched different types of lube, and slides us her recommendations.  +Poetry. Grief.  One of our blessed regular PrimeCrush contributors Lauren D. Weinstein shares a poem about grief dedicated to the love she lost due to Covid 19. Our hearts beat with yours, Lauren.  Thank you for sharing this. +DEVOUR.  What to do, read, watch, listen to & know about this week.  +Our Song of the Week.  It says summer.

QUIVER. Sexual Debut Stories: Violet.  By Lisa Ellex

For her first column on first-time-sex, writer Lisa Ellex tells Violet’s story and discusses the “inheritance” of a healthy sexual attitude.

My mother married my father out of guilt. “It was 1954, I was 17-years-old, and we were intimate. Girls like me were looked upon as ‘used goods’. I thought I had no choice.”

The 1960s women’s movement (and a little help from Erica Jong’s 1973 novel, Fear of Flying) greatly contributed to my mother’s physical and spiritual liberation. It also influenced her decision to divorce my father.  Enlightened, she passed her new and healthy sexual attitude along to me, and I to my daughter. Call it our family heirloom. I am happy my mother lived long enough to see a time when life choices such as marriage are no longer influenced by sexual mores.  We are, for the most part, free to love whomever we choose, whenever we choose, however we choose.

I would love nothing more than to interview my mother for the debut of this column and further share with you how her first sexual experience shaped -- and re-shaped -- her adult sex life, but mom has moved on to that great Plato’s Retreat in the sky.  I only hope she found a clean mattress.

From Colette to Henry Miller, authors of modern literature deliciously recounted desire.  Somehow, the Golden Age of Television ushered in a pseudo-puritanical moral code for the 1950s, and a guilt-ridden America played along.

Someone who did not play along is a friend I will call Violet. Not only does she share my mother’s birth year, but she also shares my mother’s free-thinking spirit.

A bright and curious child who “developed early and attracted many suitors”, Violet’s parents kept a watchful eye. She met her “first” -- we will call him Roman -- under the awning of a church picnic concession stand while waiting for a rain storm to pass. A romantic beginning, indeed. It was the summer after her freshman year of high school and Roman was about to enter college on a football scholarship. She fell fast for the tall, dark, and handsome athlete, and when he walked her home that night he asked to see her again. And again.  And they spent the next year seeing each other on weekends when Roman would make the one hour drive from his college dorm to Violet’s house.  When her parents forbid her to get in a car with him, Violet protested, “Don’t be ridiculous! Anything we can do in a car we can do under a bush!”  And so, Violet would walk around the corner to rendezvous with Roman who was waiting in his 1947 Plymouth.

Feeling the strain of classes, football, and his part-time job, Roman enlisted in the Air Force to later finish college on the G.I. Bill. Violet was heart-broken. They spent the next year corresponding through steamy love letters. When Violet graduated that June, Roman was transferred to an outpost in the Midwest. Despite earning two full college scholarships, Violet decided to follow and marry Roman.

I asked Violet if forfeiting her scholarships was a difficult decision.  “I was in love. I was in lust. I was 17-years-old. What did I know?”  What Violet did know was that for the rest of Roman’s days their physical life perfectly reflected their courtship: romantic and passionate. Violet was done talking now, but I couldn’t help but ask, “So, did you do it in the car or under a bush?”  Candid yet reserved, she answered, “You find a way.”

How did your first sexual encounter shape your adult sex life?

With love,


Hand Job. Lube Up and Lend Yourself a Hand

By Mary Palm and Her 5 Sisters

I can confidently say that hand jobs are back with a vengeance. Since COVID caused prolonged social isolation, looking for love or a casual hookup became nearly nonexistent, unless you were partnered off and even then, you might have wanted to be alone, get a grip and just do it yourself!

A good old tried and true HJ is a form of pleasuring oneself or may be a tantalizing appetizer leading to cunnilingus and/or intercourse…so why abandon them now?

With that in mind and hand, I have researched which gel, cream or lotion would be able to address several concerns, desires and budgets. I looked for products that would be able to enhance the experience (keep your arm from getting sore), endure a good wanking without causing irritation (dry skin on dry skin doesn’t feel good unless you’re into rope burns), getting gummy, messy, or difficult to clean up (watch those silk sheets). I also considered the possibility of allergic reactions to sensitive body parts and compatibility with certain types of sex toys. Lubricants are not birth control, they are not spermicides nor do they protect against STDs. You may consider wearing Nitrile gloves (sexy doctor/nurse role play) when in contact with the skin to prevent spreading or contracting a virus.

Now let’s get to the fun stuff to keep things slick and happy. Here are some different types of lube and my recommendations:

Water Based: Most common, versatile, lightweight, easy to clean up and compatible with condoms and most sex toys, (can dry up fast and needs to be reapplied which can be a mood killer).

Astroglide Gel: Long-lasting, stays put, relieves irritation and dryness, safe for use with natural rubber latex and polyurethane condoms (contains glycerin). Available at Amazon, and most pharmacy chain stores. 4oz, $4.49

Promescent: Paraben-free, odorless, colorless and greaseless, certified safe by the FDA. Safe with latex and polyurethane condoms, toy compatible.  4oz, $8.99

Silicone Based: Ideal for highly sensitive skin, silky feel, long-lasting and needs to be applied less often. They are NOT compatible with silicone toys. The surface of the toy may deteriorate over time and become less sanitary.

Sliquid Siver Lube: Waterproof, cleans well with soap and water, formulated by women and proclaims it will not cause yeast infections or UTI’s. Glycerin free, hypoallergenic, non-toxic, non-staining latex, rubber and plastic friendly. 8.5oz, $30.46 Amazon

Swiss Navy Silicone Lube: With vitamin E, velvety feel, long-lasting, great for intimacy in the water (shower, anyone?), leak proof pump bottle. Made in the USA, no parabens. 4oz, $14.45 Amazon

Organic: Made without parabens, hormones or flavors.

Momentum Organic Aloe Lubricant: Paraben and glycerin free, vegan friendly, infused with oat and quinoa and non-toxic 3oz, $25.00

Organic Glide: Probiotic formula is proven to help strengthen the immune system and combat allergies, clinical studies have also shown it to beneficially affect vaginal and urinary tract infections in women. Super smooth and long lasting. Free from glycerin, fragrance, parabens, flavorings and fragrance 4.8oz, $19.95

Specialty Lubes: Flavored, warming, tingling or infused with CBD oil.

Privy Peach CBD Intimate Oil: Reduces feelings of stress, relaxes. Formulated with coconut oil and infused with CBD.  1.2oz, $45.00. Female-centric and female-owned company.

Wicked Sensual Care Lubes: Cinnamon bun flavored for when you are craving baked goods or something sweet. Made with glycerin and stevia. (Stevia is non fermentable and does not feed yeast.) Never use flavored lubes that contain sugar, aspartame or saccharin for vaginal intercourse, they are notorious for causing yeast infections.  4oz, $9.99 Amazon

In a Pinch: Baby oil, coconut oil, Suave body lotion or spit (did I just write that?!). Be aware that oil-based lubes may be long-lasting, but they can clog pores, stain fabric and undermine the strength of latex and polyurethane condoms. Oil-based lubes are perfectly safe with most sex toys, however they are associated with higher rates of infections. Sounds like a headache, if you ask me.

Remember to have fun! Whatever you call it--happy ending, pulling the pork or yanking the chain--listen to the lyrics from Madonna’s song “Secret”: “Happiness lies in your own hands…” And sometimes it literally does.


By Lauren D. Weinstein

If you have a pulse, inevitably you will experience grief. Whether it’s caused by the loss of a loved one or an unfulfilled expectation, it’s a universal emotion, personal and at times, collective. Grief continually evolves and the price we pay when we open our hearts to love and the journey called life.  This poem is dedicated to the memory of my love, William J. Mandile who passed due to COVID 19.

Grief is a well that I visit. It is filled with memories, unspoken truths and unfulfilled dreams.

The murky waters of regret are eerily still, disturbed only by the subtle ripples of bittersweet longing.

Tears gently fall as emotions churn in the darkness.

My eyes strain as I peer into the abyss. I yearn to be still and at peace.

Teetering on the edge, I cautiously reel my grief to the surface and observe how it overflows and is quickly absorbed by the parched soil beneath my bare feet.

Carefully, I fill my cup with the lessons I have learned and humbly offer it to the wind.

DEVOUR {things to do, read, watch, listen to & know about}

Read. Who Is Your Zaddy? In Brooke Hammerling's Pop Culture Mondays. Wondering what a "zaddy" is? Hammerling explains it in detail in her weekly pop culture takedown (which I've been reading since day 1 of publication because I love a well-curated and opinionated pop culture exposition. No more going to get a weekly manicure just so that I can read People.) In short, from the URBAN DICTIONARY a "zaddy" is:

"A fine handsome and sexy ass intelligent man that makes you smile and drip every time you see him. He knows how to handle business in and out of the bedroom. You low key want to have his baby! He makes all parts of you excited including your mind."

In order to fully understand the zaddy thing, read Hammerling in full because she goes into the origins of the term and names names of men that many consider zaddies. President Obama, Don Draper, Idris Elba are a few. And it would appear that Law & Order star Christopher Meloni is a major zaddy. As Hammerling makes clear, "zaddy" status is in the eye of the beholder, but it is some obvious combination of fashion, swagger along with some measure of gravitas/take-seriousness.  

I'd like to throw in a couple for consideration:

Scottie Pippen, just featured in this GQ article about his new bourbon, whose new look I dig and who I love seeing more of after having binged The Last Dance last year.

Scottie Pippen Has Something to Say: On Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and More
The six-time NBA champion has a new bourbon. And a memoir coming soon. And some candid thoughts about great players past and present.

Also this guy. Franco Mazzetti, whose every post on instagram demands my ardent attention.

I can think of so many more: Keith Richards, Stanley Tucci, Daniel Levy to name a few. They don't have to be famous. For instance, my friend Sev is a total Zaddy (nevermind the stuffed cow - we were in Austria at a Hahnenkamm World Cup Race party). (Sev is in the forefront below. Tomas (background) was rocking some groovy plaid pants but you can't see them here.)

Subscribe to Pop Culture Mondays by Brooke Hammerling here.

Listen. Meryl Streep Reading Nora Ephron’s “Heartburn” on Audiobook. Maybe you saw the movie starring Meryl Streep, who plays a pregnant wife who learns that her husband,  played by Jack Nicholson, is having an affair. Maybe you didn't. Either way, this funny / heartbreak of a story is much better in its original version, read by Meryl Streep. Listen here. Read Helen Rosner's review in The New Yorker "Nora Ephron's "Heartburn" Is An Ideal Audiobook here.

Nora Ephron’s “Heartburn” Is an Ideal Audiobook
The real magic of the novel comes from Ephron’s nonchalant conversationalism. Read by Meryl Streep, the book is what it always ought to have been.

Read. Maria Popova's Review of the Book The Soul of an Octopus. If you loved watching Netflix's documentary My Octopus Teacher, then you might love reading The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, a finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction. I picked it up on the basis of this review by the excellent Maria Popova in her newsletter Brainpickings who calls it "an astoundingly beautiful read in its entirety, at once scientifically illuminating and deeply poetic." A book that explores our relationship, perspective and fears with "otherness" and pulls into question our most basic assumptions about consciousness. Popova's review itself is illuminating.

Watch. The Way of the Househusband.  (Speaking of Japanese wellness spas ...) This anime style netflix series features Tatsu, a former brutal yakuza (Japanese mafia) mobster. In this storyline he is retired and asserting his dragon ways onto daily rituals like making a boxed lunch for his wife to take to work. The conceit worked for me, particularly because I just got done bingeing the British television series Giri/Haji and Tatsu reminds me of the very sexy Yosuke Kubozuka, playing Yuto Mori.

Listen/Read.  Buzzfeed on Why More People Are Embracing the Solo Life. I've already told you about the podcast SOLO: The Single Person's Guide to a Remarkable Life, which is hands down the best resource (and community) for those who have chosen singlehood - a choice that people are going to increasingly make and be proud/comfortable with. Buzzfeed has just published an article on why this is a trend. Whether you have chosen the solo lifestyle yourself or not, if you have friends who are solo it is important to recognize that their mindset is "single by choice" and NOT that they can't find someone.

This week's song - Big Wave by Donavon Frankenreiter - just says summer to me.

Hope the week end brings you a big wave of love, coming on strong.

Dish Stanley XO,

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. Dish would love to have you as a Crush reader.


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