The Crush Letter No 25

. 14 min read

Hello Crush,

This last week in the world has been pretty dark, between Afghanistan, COVID and natural disasters.  {Big cleansing breath in and out.}  It is hard to make this a "shit-free zone," but I'm kinda trying to make The Crush Letter a "shit-free zone."  Given that we are also smack in the middle of prime season for two major life events in America - weddings and college drop-offs – alongside the stirring, treacherous images of colossal world shit storms were many pictures of family and friends in moments of poignant personal passages.  That's the way the world moves forward - the epic world events alongside, or as a backdrop to, the compelling private stories.

What I saw in these personal posts, many of which were CRUSH Readers, was joy and pride, for sure. But there were also powerful reminders that loving is always an act of bravery.  Whoever, whenever, however you love.  It is terrifying.  If we love, we're vulnerable.  

I have loved & lost and loved & betrayed and loved & run and not loved when I should have like everybody else who has reached middle-age, and here's what I know.  We must love with everything we've got, even while understanding that it is not permanently ours.  (Or really ours at all, and not necessarily ours tomorrow in the way it is today, if you want to mince words.)  There's no form of protection from the potential pain that comes from loving that does not also diminish the wholeheartedness of love.  

PrimeCrush is my attempt to try (with you) to understand how we can love as best we can, to make loving well a more powerful habit in our lives and to create a community that reinforces what we already know about the primacy of everything love.  (Even in the face of world of shit storms, emotional baggage or just too much work.)  

On that note, one social post this week sort of demanded highlighting.  Here's PrimeCrush Reader Laura Gassner Otting hugging her oldest son before dropping him off for his freshman year at Rice University. Laura, the author of Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve Your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life, is also a Tedx & Keynote Speaker, entrepreneur, marathon runner and champion rower (having taken up the latter in her forties).  And someone who I know firsthand loves with everything she's got.  This shot captures her letting go.  (Or about to.)  Read her text below it.  Gut punch.

Meet Laura Gassner Otting: Motivator, Instigator, Provocateur. Also: Puddle.  

Let us all love like Laura.

(PS You can follow Laura on instagram (and throw her some love ) at @heylgo. Laura is launching a new Limitless cohort in September for those looking to get more out of life - more here.)

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.    +The Friendship Files.  A.K.A. Darla writes about a fifty-year friendship among four women who have seen it all including, improbably, most recently the inside of a makeshift bong/dildo/tatto parlor.  (Just when I was saying love takes courage.)  +Quiver. In this recurring series, columnist Lisa Ellex tells the sexual debut stories of her interviewees, looking back.  Here she features the endearing Nina, whose debut gave her confidence, and a sense of humor.  +SIP.  Babe Blankets.  +DEVOUR.  What to do, read, listen to and watch. +Our First Giveaway!  Details below.  (In case you missed it last week.  Or need a second prompt.  Yes, you, crackling CRUSH Reader!).  +Our Song of the Week.  Nothing you can see that isn't shown.

The Friendship Files: Like A Tattoo.  By A.K.A. Darla

My father often told me that one would be rich in life if they had just one friend. A real friend. A person who would traverse life with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly. You may fight with them and cry with them, but you’ll laugh with them and love with them. Sometimes, you may not want to talk to them, but you know they are there.  And if a long time goes by when you don’t speak to them, you will eventually pick up exactly where you left off, as if no time passed at all.

For some reason, the universe has paired you with this person. If you journaled the notable moments shared with them, you’d have volumes. This new column tells some of those stories.

I am an only child.  I have never rued the absence of siblings, and I relish every childhood moment spent in the solitude of my room, writing poems, reading books, playing guitar, eavesdropping on grown-ups, and daydreaming.

The closest thing I’ve experienced to sisterhood is the friendship I share with three women I’ve known since nursery school. Between us, we’ve had four Holy Communions, five marriages, six children, and four divorces. Three of us once spent a particular New Year’s Eve trying to get the fourth out of jail. We’ve celebrated the milestones of our children, and held each other at the passing of our parents. We live in four different cities now, but make a point to get together at every possible opportunity.

One such get-together took place on a chilly Spring morning when we met for brunch at the Greenwich Village bar we’ve frequented since getting our hands on our first fake I.D. Over champagne and French toast, we discussed politics (until a fight broke out), a son’s new job, a kitchen renovation, a trip to Iceland, Eastern medicine, and my daughter’s massive tattoo.

“We should all get tattoos!” said the one who was most drunk.

“You don’t have the balls!” I snapped back, challenging her.

“We’ll do it next time I’m in town. We need time to think about a design.”

Refusing to let this moment go by, I suggested we each get four small stars of different colors, each star representing a member of our pack. As we finished our meals, we scrolled through our phones to find a tattoo parlor open on a Sunday morning. With no results, we decided to go for a walk instead.

We stopped at a liquor store for more champagne, then made our way to the large city park where we played as kids. We climbed up to the bleachers and drank the champagne from paper coffee cups, reminiscing about the hundreds of hours we had spent here. Each story played out like a home movie before our eyes, with scenes of softball, swimming, bocce, and boys.

We left the park and walked uptown through our old neighborhood when we came across a familiar storefront that had been taken over by a headshop. Through its grimy window one could see scores of bongs and pipes, with a sprinkling of dildos thrown in for good measure. Then, like a rose in the desert, stood a hand-written index card that read, “WE DO TATTOO.”

“Look!” I screamed, pointing to the card. Emboldened by champagne, I walked through the doors of iniquity, as the posse followed for protection. The tattoo artist/bong salesman/dildo merchant spoke little English, but somehow the thrifty one in our pack convinced him to give us a rock bottom price since we were all getting the same design.

Wanting to “just get it over with”, the cautious one in our pack went first. She cried all the way through, while the compassionate one in our pack held her hand before taking her own turn. Having naturally birthed three boys in four years, she didn’t even flinch.  The thrifty one in our pack went next, still trying to negotiate a better price with the owner as he dug his instrument into the top of her right buttock. I went last, as everyone watched, shaking their heads at the absurdity of it all.

When it was time to say goodbye, we made a pact to watch for signs of Hepatitis C, then went our separate ways.

Yes, I am the impetuous one in our pack and -- truth be told -- I regret our decision. Ours are the ugliest tattoos I have ever seen. But each time I happen to glance at the figure on my right hip, I am reminded how we have been blessed with a lifetime of love, and I make a silent wish upon our tiny stars that we four will forever remain as close as this ink is to our skin.

Hey CRUSH Reader:  Got a friendship story?  I'd love to hear it.  Reach out to me at and your story could be shared here.  Cheers, A.K.A.

QUIVER. Sexual Debut Stories. By Lisa Ellex


“I fell asleep thinking, ‘I am now a sexual being,’ and I discovered a confidence (and a sense of humor) that has stayed with me to this day.”

I was tickled when a young woman who read my first Quiver column contacted me to share her personal story.  Enjoying her second year in a committed, domestic partnership, Nina is a psychotherapist who uses music as the focal point of her practice.

In her early teens, Nina began singing in small New York City clubs and cafes. During this time her parents divorced, her filmmaker father remarried, and Nina spent every other weekend travelling to the suburbs to visit him.

My dad was shooting a film in his neighborhood and had cast me in a short scene as a lounge singer. The days were long and the crew became like family, but there was one guy I found particularly attractive. Call him Zev. Zev was handsome, funny, artistic, and had the most beautiful blue eyes. I especially liked that he was not American. After a week of mutual flirting, I decided he would be ‘the one’.

At the end of the shoot, we had the customary wrap party. My father thanked us for our work, said his goodbyes, and left to return equipment to Manhattan where I knew he would be spending the night. Everyone started playing this drinking game in which you take a shot of tequila with lime and someone removes the lime from your mouth with theirs. Somehow, Zev and I were paired together and after he removed my lime we kissed.

When the party ended, Zev called a taxi and offered to drop me at my dad’s. As we pulled up to the house, I leaned in and kissed him goodnight and then invited him in.

We made our way to the couch in the den. The entire house was dark, except for the light from a lamp across the room. I knew this was the moment. I wasn’t nervous but I was self-conscious about my body, especially about my breasts. For enhancement, I always wore ‘chicken cutlets’—silicone-filled pads that actually resemble chicken cutlets—in my bra. As Zev took off my shirt, I realized this was the first time I was presenting my body to another individual yet I had made no plan for the cutlets!

In an effort to distract him, I directed Zev’s head between my legs, reached inside my bra, grabbed the chicken cutlets, and flung them across the room, knocking over the lamp and miraculously taking out the light.

Zev lifted his head and whispered, ‘What was that noise?’

‘Must have been the cat,’ I answered, pushing his head down again.

We didn’t own a cat.

Truth be told, it was not magical. Liberating was more like it. I fell asleep thinking, ‘I am now a sexual being,’ and I discovered a confidence (and a sense of humor) that has stayed with me to this day.

I awoke to the smell of bacon. I shook Zev, and ran into the kitchen to find my stepmother making breakfast. She looked at me and shrieked. ‘You’re covered in hickeys! Your father just called from the bagel store. Jesus Christ, put on a scarf!’

I ran to my room and looked in the mirror. This was not your average hickey. This was a map of Pangea.

The only thing I owned that was even close to a scarf was the feathered boa I wore in my scene. I wrapped it around my neck and headed to get Zev out of the house. As I found him standing in the kitchen, I heard my father coming through the front door.

Frantic, my stepmother motioned for us to take a seat at the table. My father entered the kitchen, set down a bag of bagels, greeted Zev, and gave me a kiss. My stepmother nervously began dishing out bacon, starting with Zev.

‘Thanks, but I’m vegan,’ said Zev. ‘Is it okay if I give mine to the cat?’”

Dear CRUSH Reader: How did your first sexual encounter shape your adult sex life?  If you’d  like to tell me about it, reach out to me at and your story could be told here.  Love, Lisa

Read more Quiver stories here.

Double Date Episode 1: Marlo Thomas & Phil Donahue Chat with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon.

This series offers up tastes of the best episodes from our favorite podcasts. One of them is Double Dates, hosted by Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue.  It features conversations on enduring love and all its challenges with couples who, like Thomas and Donahue, have been married a long time.

Episode Date March 3rd, 2021 (32 Minutes)

You might think that two acclaimed actors who have been married for nearly two decades would have a lot in common. You would be wrong. Viola’s easily stressed, Julius is calm. He’s extroverted; she’s a loner. He’s clean and organized; she’s messy. This is a tale of how opposites attract and why it can work out in the long run.

Who They Are

Viola Davis: A critical darling of the acting world, Viola is the first African American and the youngest actor to earn an Academy, an Emmy, and a Tony. You know her from How to Get Away with Murder, Fences, The Help, and more.

Julius Tennon: A seasoned actor and producer, you’ve seen Julius Tennon in Dazed and Confused and more TV shows than we can count.

Married for: 18 years

How they met: On the television pilot of City of Angels. He was exactly what she had been searching for. Julius gave her his number, and a mere six anxiety-filled weeks later, she called him.

Best lines:

15:10 Viola, “Relationships are an act of faith, and vulnerability is the ultimate level of courage.”

18:56 Julius, “One of the big things I get from is her is that I can tell her anything. She listens; she takes it in. She’s always interested in my well-being and happiness.”

28:08 Viola, “The best thing that I’ve brought into my marriage is to really ask myself what am I contributing to it or what am I doing to destroy it…whenever you’re on automatic in your marriage, you’re not in it.”

29:27 Viola, “You can’t operate separately with your own joy and go on your own path and your own road if, in the end, it doesn’t honor the ultimate commitment.”

Viola and Julius’s relationship is the picture of health and synergy. You can hear the pride in his voice when Julius talks about Viola’s accomplishments. And he’s taught her a lot along the way as well.

Listen to this episode if: you want proof you can manifest something good in your life.

‎Double Date with Marlo Thomas & Phil Donahue: Viola Davis & Julius Tennon on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Double Date with Marlo Thomas & Phil Donahue, Ep Viola Davis & Julius Tennon - Mar 3, 2021

PrimeCrush Cocktail Coaster Giveaway!

Here's the Deal on PrimeCrush's First Giveaway.  It's as easy as your favorite lube:  (x) You submit one of the three things listed below, (y) I publish it in The Crush Letter (probably after a little editing) and (z) you get a set of 8 PrimeCrush Cocktail Coasters.

The Three Things:

1) a 5 Things That Turn You On column (see some here) (and ps - write to me for our template to make your life easier) (and pss - you can use an alias) or

2) a F*ck Song piece (see some here) (and ps - write to me for our template to make your life easier) (and pss - you can use an alias) or

3) a DEVOUR item with your concise few sentences on why CRUSH Readers would want to devour said devourable thing. (see some here).

Now thru Labor Day (or while supplies last)!  Share with me at  Thank you!

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

I am going to try a new thing where most weeks I share a quick takes on something at the top of my list that week, and then once a month I'll do a more extended DEVOUR covering everything from pressing items to timeless classics.  Let me know what you think

Listen.  Sports Podcast Three-Point Range.  Hosted by three old friends from University of North Carolina – San Diego Padres baseball scout Kimball Crossley, Chicago Sun-Times and writer Mike Beradino and UNC journalism professor Tim Crothers – this sports podcast offers both deep-in-the-weeds coverage of current events and quirky, philosophical and values-driven takes on the meaning of sports.  Their discussions often sit at the nexus of where athletic accomplishment, character and heart meet capitalism.  Go for the sports talk, stay to witness the great camaraderie, respect and friendship these guys share from years of friendship.  I love these guys, and witnessing the gentle rubbing they give each other when they disagree, which they often do.

In the latest, Crossley, who refers to himself tongue-and-cheek as a "thinking man's sports fan" offers his own lyrical derision of the NFL's announcement of a 17-game regular season to the tune of Janis Ian's "Seventeen."  Appropriate apologies to Ian are included (and required).  Adding to the fun, at least one, if not both, of the other two are not familiar with Ian's classic.  {Sigh.}  (NB: Ian says that she wrote the song at a time when she was "really weird looking" which is reason enough to love it.  Here's a good live version.)

Best lines:  "Remember those who win the game / Still end up living lives with pain / With team doctors of poor quality / Who misdiagnose encephalopathy"

Three-Point Range
Three old college friends -- San Diego Padres baseball scout Kimball Crossley, Chicago Sun-Times and freelance writer Mike Berardino and UNC journalism professor Tim Crothers -- share their unique viewpoints on sports issues both contemporary and timeless. Hilarity ensues. Follow them on …

Check Out.  These Regrams of My Favorite Posts This Week.

Song of the Week.

A very 60's production of All You Need Is Love by the Beatles.  This particularly historic recording was made for Our World, the first live international satellite television production broadcast on June 25, 1967.  It was watched at the time live by a reported 400 million people in 25 different countries.  In addition to John, Paul, George and Ringo - and a lot of balloons - there are cameos of a very groovy looking Mick Jagger and a quintessentially cool Keith Richards in the audience.  Fantastic.

The Beatles - All You Need Is Love watch/listen here on Vimeo.

Happy Week End, dearest CRUSH Readers.  Remember to love, love, love like Laura does!

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.


'Merci'! to Emily in Paris for one of the most riverting women in pop culture "Divorce, Baby, Divorce" by Liza Lentini "Don't Touch My Hat.*" Midlife Men & Loneliness "This is a Tale of Modern Love ..." 2022 2024 Hit List 3 things I'm crushing on 5 Books to Help You Chill TF Out 5 Great Boutique Hotels Around NYC. By Jeanne Bosse 5 things that turn our crush readers on A Book That Could Unf*ck Your Relationship: I Want This To Work By Elizabeth Earnshaw. Reviewed By Angela Kempf. A Circle of Crones. By Elayne Clift A Roman Love Affair. By Lady Verity A Turntable and a Candle: F-ing Classics About Face: Skincare Essentials for Men An Upbeat Playlist for the Divorce-curious And I Wondered ... Do We Really Need A SATC Reboot? And Just Like That... Who Are These People?? By Jeanne Bosse And so this is Another brother gained and lost. By Jeanne Bosse Ask Dish Bedtime Rituals for Couples. By Lauren D. Weinstein Bisexually Anxious Among the Noodges. Review: shiva Baby Bloody Good Sex Book review Book Review: A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers Book Review: I'm With The Band by Pamela Des Barres. Reviewed by Evie Arnaude Book Review: Maurice Book Review: Norma Kamali: I Am Invincible Book Review: Swan Dive: The Making of a Rogue Ballerina by Georgina Pazcoguins. Reviewed By Lady Varity Book Review: The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It Every Time By Maria Konnikova' Book Review: The Lover. By Marguerite Duras. Book Review: The Story of O Book Review: VOX by Nicholson Baker. Reviewed by Christian Pan Building The Perfect Music Collection Calm App Review: “If I Traveled Or Worked In An Office, I Would Rely On This App Heavily”. By Evie Arnaude Christian Pan CRUSH Summer Reading List! From CRUSH Reader Sharon Weinberg, Owner of The Chatham Bookstore Culture/Comments Dear Dish devour DEVOUR {things to do, have & know about} Devour: Reads we think you should devour Dish Gets A Kink Assessment. Dish Stanley Dish Stanley's Rules for Polite Society Doing Nothing With Friends Effortless, Natural Holiday Makeup. By Lauren D. Weinstein Emily In Paris Extended Encounters. By Lisa Ellex F*ck Songs. Three Best Jazz Albums for a Sexy Night In. By Lisa Ellex Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style and Attitude: Mireille Guiliano. Reviewed by Evie Arnaude Five Best Jazz Clubs Around The Country. By Lisa Ellex Foria's Totally Useful Guide to Sexting Four Indie Bookstore That Stayed In My Life Long After I Left Town. By Dish Stanley French Kiss: French Girls Do It Better, Right? friendship Fun in the sun skincare tips get your spy thrill on Girl Crush. By Lady Verity Grief. By Lauren D. Weinstein Healing Through Change. By Lauren D Weinstein Heard It at The Grammys: Dishs Crush on Silk Sonic Hefner. By Bob Guccione, Jr Hide A Love Note In Their Pocket. Hit List Holiday Invites Holiday Perspectives. By Dean Christopher Hook Ups Hot Thots How to Be the Most Charming Person at a Holiday Party. By Evie Arnaude How to find porn thats actually good I am my own family I just turned 60 but I feel 22 I redesigned my closet. I'm Dish, the Master of Ceremonies Im glad my mom died In Good Hands. Kathy: This Is A Love Story About Three Friends La Mia Famiglia by Lisa Ellex Lamentations on the Lost Art of Kissing. By Elisabeth C. Lamotte Leave the husband, bring the cannoli. By A.K.A. Darla Let's Reconsider, with Adam Grant Love & Mike's "Bad Girl Pasta" Love/Sex/Moon Magick By Lynn Eaton LXIX. By A.K.A. Darla Meeting Across the River Melissa Biggs Bradley's New Book Safari Style Makes Me Want To Go On A Safari midlife MIDLIFE CRISIS: When Reality Strikes, By Dean Christopher Movie Magic. By Amy Ferris My First Solo Trip: Mexico, Part I. By Dawn Larsen My Prostate Journey: A Personal Story My Tits Contain MulTITudes Naked & Not afraid by KC Roth Oasis in the Desert. One woman's honest journey through vaginal rejuvenation. OMG Yes. Pamela Anderson: What Her Story Says About Us paris Pillow Tawk (or NOT)? Play well with others. By Dish Stanley Playing Games: A Review of Esther Perel's New Sold Out Card Game. Podcast Review: Dying for Sex. Why You Need to Listen to Molly's Journey. political thrillers PrimeCrush & Chill: Movies Worth a Re-Watch PrimeCrush Bookshop PrimeCrush Cocktail Coaster Giveaway! QUIVER. Sexual Debut Stories. recommedations Red Flags Reports from the edge. By Jane Boon separate bedrooms Sexual Frustrations. By Elisabeth C Lamotte Shameless Quick & Easy Mac & Cheese. By Evie Arnaude Sighs & Moans. By Ralph Greco SIP. Best Lines from the Double Dates Podcast Hosted by Marlo Thomas & Phil Donahue Six Ways to Get the Friends Who Count Snapshot Rec: Get Yourself Sexify-ed on Netflix. Snapshot Rec: Read Liza Lentini on the Indigo Girls in SPIN Solo in my Sixties. By Jeanne Bosse Songs That Make You Wanna F*ck. Stanley Tucci Is Paradise Stories to Read Aloud to a Lover. By A.K.A. Darla Tell Me More. By Dish Stanley The 3 Things You're Really Fighting About The 4 Most Common Skincare Issues for Men (But Were Afraid to Ask). By Lauren D. Weinstein The Crush Letter 44 The Crush Letter 51: DEVOUR The Crush Letter 58 the crush letter 72 the crush letter 73 The Crush Letter 75 the crush letter 77 The Crush Letter Its a tune The Crush Letter No 33 The Crush letter No 36 The Crush Letter No 39 The Crush Letter No 40 The Crush Letter No 41: DEVOUR The Crush Letter No 42 The Crush Letter No 43 The Crush Letter No 45 The Crush Letter No 46: DEVOUR The Crush Letter No 50 The Crush Letter No 53 The Crush Letter No 54 The Crush Letter No 55 The Crush Letter No 56 DEVOUR The Crush Letter No 57 The Crush Letter No 59 The Crush Letter No 60: DEVOUR The Crush Letter No 61 The Crush Letter No 62 the crush letter no 63 The Crush Letter No 64 The Crush Letter No 65: DEVOUR The Crush Letter No 66 The Crush Letter No 67 The Crush Letter No 68 The Crush Letter No 69 The Crush letter No 70 The Crush Letter No 74: DEVOUR The Crush Letter No 78 The Crush Letter No 80 The Crush Letter No 81 The Crush Letter No 82 The Crush Letter No 83: DEVOUR The Crush Letter No 84 The Crush letter No 85 The Crush Letter No 86: The Toy Tester Report The Crush letter No:71 DEVOUR The Crush Letter No. 79 The Crush Letter No. 94 The Crush Letter: Culture / Comment The Dynamics of Friendhip By Lauren D. Weinstein The Friendship Files By AKA Darla The Golden Bachelor The Hole. By Kiva Schuler The Holiday Anti-Checklist By Liza Lentini The New Menopause By Dr. Mary Claire Haver The Perfect Snowy Saturday. By Jeanne Bosse The Ritual of Comforts. By Lady Verity The Sex Position Report. By Dish Stanley The Solo Series Thee Timeless Travel Books. By Bob Guccione Jr. Things To Let Go Of. By Dish Stanley This must be the place To get all of us, subscribe. Top Ten Jazz Albums To Soothe Your Soul. By Lisa Ellex TOPIX Transitions Travel tips Treats: A Sex Toy Tester Update Under The Radar Series. By Dish Stanley Valentines day what dead to me taught me about family. Who Are CRUSH Readers Grateful For? Women of a Certain Age Whose Style I Admire You're My Medicine Your Big Green Heart. By Liza Lentini Your Love Is King & Queen, GQ Zits a poppin Zoning Out in Comfort. By Dean Christopher