The Crush Letter No 21

. 14 min read

Hello Crush,

I feel like I should be greeting you with something clever about taking a ride to the moon in a cockrocket, but I'm not going to do better than this:

Happy Saturday! I hope your summer has taken off.  We are staring down July, our friends in L.A. (and elsewhere) are back in masks and my dogs are getting tired of having their hair combed for ticks.  On the heels of Covid isolation, all the boisterousness of July has been a lot.  Do you - like me - just feel like staying in solo all next week?  (If so, thankfully, our chef Ali Waks Adams has offered up a "date yourself" Truffled Cacio e Pepe recipe for us (below).  I think I'll eat it every night this 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.  I share the best original stories and intelligence on everything love in your prime - romance, friendship, sex, self-care.

To read the pieces our CRUSH community has loved the most go here.  To subscribe (we'd love to have you and everyone you love) go here.

In This Letter.  +Quiver. Sexual Debut Stories.  In the second story in her series of conversations on sexual debuts, writer Lisa Ellex interviews Joe about that night 45 years ago when the high school girl down the street, Linda, took charge.  I hope you find it as sweet and stirring as I did.  +BITE. Go Date Yourself!  Chef Ali Waks Adams sets us up for a quiet night in alone.  +Pillow Tawk (Or NOT).  Mary Palm doesn't want to call you Daddy.  +DEVOUR.  What to do, read, watch, listen to & know about this week.  Short but sweet, this week we've got a great thing for those in, or aspiring to, long-term romantic partnerships.   +Our Song of the Week  Is as beautiful to watch as it is to listen to.

QUIVER. Sexual Debut Stories: Joe. By Lisa Ellex

This is Joe’s story. He actually makes me miss high school.”

“She was older by a year. I was a high school sophomore and Linda was a junior. We had no classes together but I always noticed her because, well frankly, she had huge breasts. I guess she noticed me, too, because when I was walking home from school on that particular day she sidled up to me. I thought I was hallucinating. I was probably thinking about her at that very moment, and suddenly, she magically appeared. She walked with me to my house and then continued down the street to her own.

Walking home together became a regular thing. I guess my mother had noticed. I was outwardly shy and perhaps my mom was worried that I didn’t have a girlfriend because one day she said, ‘Tomorrow night, your father and I are going to the movies. Why don’t you ask your friend to come over for dinner?’ This surprised me for a couple of reasons.  First, my father was the Science teacher at our school and it was rare that he went out on a school night. Second, I thought it odd that my parents would leave me alone with a girl.

I spent the next school day terrified by the thought of Linda rejecting my invitation. When three o’ clock came, we walked, we talked, I asked, I stammered. She agreed.

While setting the kitchen table, my mother instructed me how to serve the eggplant parmigiana she prepared for us. As my parents were making their way to the front door my mother whispered to me, ‘There’s a little wine left in the bottle.’ And they were gone.

Linda arrived.  We went into the kitchen to find two place settings complete with grown-up wine glasses and a lighted candle.  Linda poured what was left of the wine.

‘Cheers,’ said Linda.

‘Cheers,’ I replied.

Then she blurted out, ‘I can’t believe I’m in my Science teacher’s house!’

The next thing I remember is Linda taking me by the hand and walking me up the stairs to my room. She led me right to my bed where we started making out. She was aggressive, in a tender kind of way. There was no doubt that she had done this before.  I remember slowly peeling off her jeans; those great bell bottoms from the 1970s. That was all she allowed me to do. From then on, she initiated every mind-blowing thing that was to come. I wasn’t nervous. I was fascinated. Fascinated by every perfect thing Linda did.

While getting dressed, Linda commented on what a great lover I was. I actually thanked her and admitted it was my first time. She laughed. I asked what was so funny.

‘You’re kidding, right?’

I assured her I was not.

‘But you knew exactly what to do.’

And she was right.  I did.  I don’t know how, but I did.  Maybe it was instinct.  Maybe it was from years of thinking about it.

Making our way down the stairs, Linda reprised, ‘I can’t believe I’m in my Science teacher’s house!’.  And with that, the front door opened on my parents. My mother seemed to have a slight smile on her face. My father, on the other hand, looked like he wanted to kill me.

‘Why don’t you walk Linda home,’ my mother urged.  And so I did.

That was forty-five years ago but I can’t tell you how often I’ve replayed that night in my mind. To this day, I adore sexually aggressive women. Sometimes, when I walk down the street, I can feel Linda sidling up to me in her bell bottom jeans.”

If you missed the first in Lisa's Quiver series, Violet is here.

BITE.  Go Date Yourself!  By Ali Waks Adams

Chef Ali designs the perfect, easy menu for when you want to be alone with your favorite person: Yourself.

In the before times—in the before, before times—my life consisted of rushing from one place to another, frantically making connections, searching for someone, or something that would complete me. I rarely thought about making time for myself. Life was very “IMPORTANT” and “URGENT”, and I was young and I spent a lot of time alone, and I didn’t appreciate it. AT ALL!

I am now a married lady who lives in a small town, a place where you do not even have to dial the area code to make a local call (I took me months to figure out why I couldn’t use a landline). I spend a good deal of my day times alone.  During the pandemic, I spent too many of my days alone and absolutely none of my nights. My husband was home every single night. EVERYSINGLEF*INGNIGHT. He never went camping with a friend, or away for a couple of nights for work training, or back to New Jersey to visit family. I would work “late” one night a week, but we would still have dinner when I got home at 8 p.m. (which in pandemic Maine was the equivalent of 3 a.m. in another big city life).

When I was single, I would have read that paragraph and said, F-You, you smug bitch, what is so terrible about having dinner with the man you love every night? Well, I would like to tell my younger self, you are romanticizing a life you are not living.

I am now a person who understands how welcome and necessary a night alone can be.  I learned this lesson from my dear friend JP. JP is beautiful, brilliant, kind and just a terrific woman. She has a crazy, intense, stressful job where she takes care of a lot of people, like a city’s worth of people who need a lot of things very desperately.  JP great at prioritizing treating herself well, she makes herself lovely dinners and wears her leather shorts with heels and make up to Zoom meetings.

If that sounds weird to you then you have the same lessons to learn that I did. Treating yourself with generosity and kindness is so freaking great when you get the hang of it! It’s not just snugging up in your comfiest comfies with a pint of takeout noodles whilst binge watching ‘90s rom coms. There are evenings when you need to buy yourself some flowers, put on something that makes you feel really good about yourself (even if you haven’t quite figured out how to wear it outside), make a cocktail (or mocktail), cook yourself a really soul nourishing dinner and enjoy your own company, eat at the table with utensils, drink good wine, wash the dishes, smoke a joint, take a bath, have dessert and retire at the end of the evening with yourself and enjoy that time, all of it, because you are being nice to your most important person, you. (Just don’t forget to moisturize).

I’ve designed a menu for the perfect solo night in, when you want to “date yourself”. Keep it simple as far as prep and clean up, because, yeah, it’s nice to be really extravagant but facing a sink full of dishes is just no fun. I tend towards pasta when I am alone, my husband is really annoying about not eating carbs and it feels super indulgent to basically make buttered noodles for myself for dinner.


Menu for a Solo Night In

Vodka Martini

Caprese Salad

The BEST TOMATO you can get your hands on + burrata, olive oil, basil, mint, chilies, flaky salt & vinegar

Truffled Cacio e Pepe*

A personal favorite, recipe below

Easy Green Salad

Mine is baby lettuce from farmers’ market w mustard/shallot vinaigrette)

Dark Chocolate Sorbet

Dark chocolate sorbet + olive oil & smoked Maldon salt (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, it’s so grown up and addictive)

Wine Suggestion: It is my strong belief that champagne goes with literally everything that is food, but a Pinot Noir would also work.


Truffled Cacio e Pepe

The better the cheese the better this dish is, buy the good stuff, grate it yourself. Buy good pasta, buy good butter. Trader Joes has it, so does Whole Foods. If you can’t find the Pecorino al Tartufo (aged sheep’s milk cheese with black truffle) you have some options: 1. Buy a truffle, amazingly you can get them on Amazon right now, but also possibly at your local gourmet store; 2. Buy jarred truffle, this is a pretty good option you can get it on line, at a gourmet store or, my secret spot is Home Goods or TJ Maxx…seriously they have crazy deals on truffle stuff. If you can find the jarred sliced truffle get it, get all of it and make everything super fancy; 3. Truffle oil. Okay, I am not a huge fan—unless it is infused and not flavored, artificial truffle tastes like gasoline—real truffle tastes of mushrooms and sex and mysteries.

This is a super easy-to-make method and leaves you with some extra Cacio e Pepe to put on whatever you toast, grains, veggies, chicken, eggs, spoons.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano
  • ½ cup grated Pecorino al Tartufo or Aged Pecorino Cheese
  • 1 pound of pasta (I like Spaghetti for this)
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) good butter
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • OPTIONAL: Extra juzzz, spoonful of truffle paste, jarred sliced truffle, shaved real truffle or a splash at the very, very end of real black truffle oil

How to Make It:

  1. Bring a largish pot of salted water to boil. How salty? It should taste like tears or the ocean—don’t leave this step out even if it seems like you are using too much salt, you probably are not. Pro Tip: Don’t wait until the water is at a roiling boil to see if its salty enough when it comes to about a simmer stick your pinky in or a spoon).
  2. When water is at a roiling boil (big active bubbles), add pasta. Cook to package directions, maybe one minute less for dried pasta.
  3. Place grated cheese in a blender or food processor or a bowl, add several grinds of fresh pepper (depends on how much you like pepper, if you don’t really like it just leave it out).
  4. Ladle out about half-cup of the pasta water and add to the cheese & pepper. Blend until creamy.
  5. Pour out into a large bowl (bigger than you think you’ll need).
  6. Once pasta is finished, using tongs or a slotted spoon (depending on pasta shape – you’ll go crazy trying to spoon spaghetti or tong out penne), move the pasta into the bowl with the cheese mixture (don’t worry of some water gets in there- you want that).
  7. Turn, turn, turn the pasta and cheese together—it will start to get creamy—the pasta will absorb the cheese and give up a bit of starch.
  8. Add the lump of butter and turn, turn, and turn again.
  9. Ladle the pasta into a warm bowl (nuke it or just run it under hot water for a bit…you wouldn’t think it makes a difference, but it does and why not make it the best…after all it for you and you are the best!).
  10. Add more cheese and more pepper and any extra truffliness you desire.

If, instead of a quiet night in, you are still looking for a party menu Chef Ali Waks Adams' previous BITE column Post Pandemic Party People has what you need here.

Pillow Tawk (or NOT?). By Mary Palm

To talk or not to talk in the bedroom…and how to do it? That is the question one writer explores.

I’m a talker—except in the bedroom. I’m just not into dirty talk or saying things I just don’t want to say. I either start to nervously laugh or my mouth seals tighter than a cherry stone clam. Talking dirty may be fun for some—or a necessary auditory delight for others—but it completely snaps me out of the pleasure zone.

Hear me out. It’s not that I can’t verbally express what I desire (or don’t): “Don’t stop/harder/faster/slower/a little to the right—you get the picture?  Every time I hear the dreaded question “Who is your DADDY?,” though, I freeze faster than still water in Antarctica. I feel compelled to blurt out my father’s name. I envision him standing over me while in the throes of passion. (A horrifying and cringe-worthy moment, as you’d expect). When I ignore the question, it’s inevitably asked again. REPEATEDLY. I reluctantly submit, and unconvincingly utter, while rolling my eyes, “You, Daddy…of course…” But the torturous questions continue. “Did you miss your Daddy? Are you hungry? Tell Daddy that you’re hungry.” (And It’s not for an Oscar Meyer Weiner). In silence , I am screaming, “Just STOP, PLEASE!” I am warned in a punitive tone, “I  won’t visit you anymore if you don’t appreciate your daddy.” He adds, “my other girls…blah..blah..blah…” Gee, if that’s supposed to motivate me, you’ve just squashed me like a cockroach trying to dart across the kitchen floor when the light is unexpectedly flicked on at 2:00 a.m.

I bolt my head up from his crotch, grab his bearded face in my hands and look intensely into his glazed and bewildered eyes. I firmly declare, “Please stop telling me what to say, stop forcing me to reply from a script.  Let me be myself, let things flow.” Silence. I think we were both stunned by my outburst. Granted, it probably wasn’t the best time to spew my pent-up criticism, but I couldn’t bear one more minute of his commands.

I’m feeling degraded and manipulated. My partner’s need to control the narrative in order to feel empowered and turned on, strongly stinks of misogyny. It’s a major turnoff and I’m now totally in my own head and not feeling the slightest bit amorous. I’d rather be scrubbing the mold off the grout of my bathroom tiles with Clorox.

I can certainly understand wanting to have fun in the bedroom, to please yourself and your partner, either by role playing, dressing up (don’t you just love the stiletto, lucite fuck-me-pumps from Frederick’s Of Hollywood?) or incorporating paraphernalia. Keeping things stimulating can be fun, exciting and worth exploring, however, when it’s not something you want to do or say, it can quickly turn sour.

So, how do you express your desires without alienating your partner or deflating their delicate egos without fear of rejection, triggering insecurities and hurtful judgments?

Prior to sexy time, in a neutral, non-threatening environment, would be the opportune moment to have a sensitive discussion about what is acceptable, desired or off limits on the menu of bedroom activities. Choose the time and a private place where you both may feel relaxed and receptive to each other (during a leisurely stroll or sharing a cup of coffee) and NOT expected to have sex. (Don’t save it for date night.)

Intimacy issues may be triggered from past history from our family, previous partners and/or self-esteem issues. It’s wise to be open, without blaming or shaming. (Remember your partner is not a mind reader and you are ultimately responsible for taking care of your needs.) Ask questions: What do you need to feel turned on? What are some of your fantasies? Be empathetic, listen rather than tell or assume.

Honest communication, as difficult and clumsy as it might be, is the path to clarity, avoiding needless misunderstandings.

As Paul Newman’s character experienced in the film Cool Hand Luke, the failure to communicate has its consequences. When you don’t communicate respectfully, clearly and set boundaries it becomes nearly impossible to feel safe and vulnerable to loosen the reins of passion in the bedroom.

Since we are tawking…I already have a Daddy…but can I interest you in a pair of handcuffs?

DEVOUR {things to do, read, see & have}

Listen.  Everything Is Fine podcast on How to Have A Happy Marriage.  You may or may not know that Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue have been married over 40 years.  And that they host a podcast called Double Date where they "drop in" on famous couples who have had long marriages, Sting & Trudie Styler, Ray & Ann Romano, John McEnroe & Patty Smyth, to name a few.  You can pick something up from every episode.  

But what I may love just as much is this Everything Is Fine podcast where hosts Kim France and Jenn Romolini interview Marlo Thomas to get the broad view on what makes a happy marriage.  Some recurring themes to longstanding, happy marriages:  understanding that sometimes, with some issues, you have to choose to be happy rather than right; dropping the petty things that bug you; both people have to really want to be in it for the long haul and willing to do the work; and lots of sex.  For me the best quote from the episode is Marlo Thomas talking about why she waited until the age of 42 and meeting Phil Donahue before getting married:  "I thought that marriage was not a roomy enough place for two whole people. That marrige was a place for 1 and 1/2 persons was my theory. The 1 person (either male or female) was the one who had the dream and was following the dream, and the other person {eg, the "half} was their manager, the quiet spouse."

To skip the enjoyable banter between friends France and Rommolini and get right to the married/Marlo piece start at around 10:30.

‎Everything is Fine: It’s Marlo Thomas! on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Everything is Fine, Ep It’s Marlo Thomas! - Jul 12, 2021

Song of the Week.

And speaking of happiness, please watch/listen to this exquisitely animated video by artist Jeff Scher to the lovely music of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's "Our House".  Here are some screenshots to give you a taste:

Watch on youtube here.

And have the happiest, most wonderful week end.

Dish Stanley XO,

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, facebook & twitter.

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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