The Crush Letter No 55

. 14 min read

I'm Dish and I write a weekly newsletter about friendship, love and sex in midlife.  Because midlife is so much hotter than they said it would be.  Hell yes, sign me up for the Dish.

Hello Crush,

Happy Spring! I love the arrival of the vernal equinox - I feel like it is opening a door (slowly) to the longer days of summer.  It reminds me that we are, quite literally, tilting and rotating on our axis toward the splendid days of summer when we are in a more direct path of the sun's energy. And all that summer fun to be had. Coming our way. But before we get ahead of ourselves, tomorrow is the first official day of Spring, lovers. Use it up!

I hope that this week's issue will help with that. We are lucky to have PrimeCrush Readers who courageously volunteered to do the hard work of testing sex products to report back to the rest of us. This Letter brings you our second PrimeCrush Toy Tester Review. And much more, of course.


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.  +PrimeCrush Toy Tester Review:  We Tried Foria Awaken Arousal Oil With CBD and Here's What We Thought.  By Dish Stanley  "To put it simply, Awaken draws the yes, yes, yes out of me (almost) every time."   +QUIVER. Sexual Debut Stories.  By Lisa Ellex  In our Quiver series we interview people about their first sexual encounter.  This week we meet Luis. "Until that day, I never thought about boys in the romantic sense."  +What Making Friends in Midlife Feels Like.  By Dish Stanley Eventually, we stop texting.  +Amplify! Sex With Emily Podcast: Seducing the Booty With Alicia Sinclair 73% of respondents to one of Emily's surveys said they want to learn more about anal play.   +Resharing Our First PrimeCrush Toy Tester Review. Great Sex Starts At 50 by Tracy Cox.  It's practical resource for anyone who wonders how the changes in their own--or their partner's–bodies may affect the emotions or mechanics of sex.  +A Charlie Mackesy Insta Post In Case You Missed It.  In The Crush Letter No 2 I called Mackesy's book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is the finest tribute to friendship (and to hope and kindness) I have ever read. I've been following him on insta since.   +Our Song of the Week  {Drum Solo}

PrimeCrush Toy Tester Review (Our Second One).

We Tried Foria Awaken Arousal Oil With CBD and Here's What We Thought.  By Dish Stanley

In The Crush Letter No. 6, I wrote a short note titled Arousal Gel's, Baby about how I had suddenly seemingly all-at-once been bombarded with ads for women's arousal oils.  It turns out it was a good thing because now I like them. Arousal gels are sexual enhancers that aim to increase a woman's pleasure by intensifying sensitivity and creating a more powerful orgasm. I chose Foria's Awaken Arousal Oil for our Toy Tester Project because it has CBD in it, which increases blood flow, helps relax muscles and ease tension, and decreases anxiety or discomfort. I trust the Foria line of products - they are all organic and contain none of the ingredients (like glycerine) that cause problems (like yeast infections).  Also, as it happens, I've been told it tastes and feels good to your partner.

Pro Tip on amount: if you are trying an arousal gel for the first time, start with a small amount in case you're ultra-sensitive. It may mean that it takes a couple of tries before you get the full feeling and an understanding of your personal right "dosage" but it's worth it. We had one PrimeCrush Toy Tester who reported after her first trial that she didn't get much of a sensation, but when she tried it a second time with a slightly larger dose, she really enjoyed the feeling.  Also, note that the Awaken might take a few minutes to fully rev up (so plan accordingly).

Our Testers included those who used the Awaken alone, as well as with partners, and included both women and men.

{And by the way, for our first PrimeCrush Toy Tester Review we read Great Sex Starts at 50 by Tracey Cox. If you missed that one, we are re-running it below.}

Did the PrimeCrush Toy Testers like Foria Awaken Arousal Oil with CBD? Here's what they said:

Would you recommend Foria's Awaken Arousal Oil to other PrimeCrush Readers?

5 out of 5 Toy Testers saidYes.”

Here are a couple of our Toy Testers' specific comments:

Foria's Awaken has a subtler taste and smell than the other arousal gels I've tried, and I preferred that, and I also love that it has CBD in it (to relax things). I saw that Foria makes a version with THC in it too, but don't feel I need that level of ooooomph. I think everyone should try it. "Roxy"

I do recommend Awaken to anyone who enjoys CBD products. If one is not a fan of chocolate and mint flavors, then maybe this isn’t for you. "Dixie"

Want to Share Anything More About the Experience for You?

I didn’t know what to expect as a solo. I was pleasantly surprised with the warm, tingly feeling and the silky, light formulation. It wasn’t at all sticky which is a win. The feeling lasted throughout and definitely escalated the moment. I find even the idea of it a bit thrilling. I also appreciate that it’s plant-based. I expect I’ll use Foria regularly. “Unknown”

I had never used anything with CBD nor arousal oil, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It had a lovely smell. It wasn’t too slippery, the way some lubes can be. I applied a generous amount and waited. And waited. Nothing happened. I mentally shrugged, assuming that perhaps I had applied it incorrectly or hadn’t given it enough time. I tried it several times after and had the same experience. I had high hopes but didn’t experience heightened arousal from this lovely smelling oil. “Susie”

Full disclosure: I have been using this product and others from Foria since 2018. Awaken Arousal Oil and Sex Oil are a regular part of my life. In fact, life before them was much more stale and unfortunate - but that may have quite a bit to do with my current partner as well! To put it simply, Awaken draws the yes, yes, yes out of me (almost) every time. I don’t have a negative word to say about it, but I do hope Foria will experiment with more subtle flavors to add to the sublime chocolate mint. “Dixie”

It is subtle and I liked that. It was gentle, not overpowering. I think that maybe because it has CBD in it I thought it might be a more intense sensation. Don’t get me wrong, the gentleness is nice. There’s definitely something there. It is not an electrifying feeling, but like a gentle “lift”. I will keep trying it and maybe up the dosage to see how that feels. “Unkown”

Anything else you want to say?

Even though I was already familiar with this product, it was sexy fun for my partner and me to experience it as Toy Testers. We found a new level of communication as we played with all of the different products we were sent. “Dixie”

A big thank you to all our PrimeCrush Toy Testers. We know it's "hard work" but we're counting on you!

QUIVER. Sexual Debut Stories.  By Lisa Ellex

In this series we interview people looking back on their sexual debuts so many years later.


Luis is a recently retired school psychologist who enjoys playing music and traveling with his partner of twenty years.  They live happily together in a New Jersey suburb.

I spent my childhood avoiding sports. I dreaded the competition, aggression, and occasional violence. Concerned that I was not socializing, my mother urged me to join the school band and, in what I can only describe as the quintessential theatrical moment, I encountered Bernard.

It was our first day of rehearsal for a school production of “Guys and Dolls” and I was playing the trumpet. The actor playing Sky had not arrived and was replaced with a stand-in. The director cued the stand-in, then cued the orchestra, when out of nowhere a thin but muscular boy burst through the auditorium doors, ran up the aisle, jumped onto the stage, and broke into Sky’s song without missing a beat. He was wild and beautiful and immensely talented and I couldn’t take my eyes from him. After rehearsal, the boy approached the orchestra, apologized for being late, and thanked us for playing. Then, he gave me a wink, turned, and disappeared.

Until that day, I never thought about boys in the romantic sense. I thought about girls when masturbating but was always hesitant to ask one on a date for fear of being rejected. I spent that weekend dreaming about that boy’s wink and wondered, just who was this shining star?

Continue Reading Here.

Merry Go Round: What Making Friends in Midlife Can Feel Like.  By Dish Stanley

Amplify! Sex With Emily Podcast: Seducing the Booty With Alicia Sinclair

This series highlights the best episodes from our favorite podcasts. One of them is Sex With Emily hosted by Sex Expert Dr. Emily Morse.  Every one is worth a serious listen, but I have picked out the {11} invaluable episodes that CRUSH Readers who want to be good in bed really.can't.miss.

Episode Date: August 24, 2021 (52 Minutes)

Anal is no longer a niche interest—it’s in the mainstream. But information about why anal is so popular is not as prevalent. Dr. Emily talks with b-Vibe Founder Alicia Sinclair about how to have an anal orgasm and get ready for anal sex because, yes, it takes preparation.

‎Sex With Emily: Seducing the Booty w/ Alicia Sinclair on Apple Podcasts
‎Show Sex With Emily, Ep Seducing the Booty w/ Alicia Sinclair - Aug 24, 2021

Coming From Behind

There’s a commonly held misconception that if you’re interested in exploring anal, the first stop is penetrative sex. However, for most people, that’s not a good idea. Anal training, which is the process of gradually working up toward anal sex, can mean the difference between painful anal sex and anal orgasm.

Pain shouldn’t be a part of the anal sex equation. Rather, it’s a sign that you’re not ready for the activity yet. Dr. Emily and Alicia outline ways to problem solve pain and get to climax. They also have tips so that you aren’t worried about your digestive system when things take a sexy turn.

Listen to this episode if: You want expert advice on how to ease into learning about anal and to maximize anal pleasure.

Best lines:

0:08 Emily, “73% of respondents said they want to learn more about anal play.”

24:17 Emily, “It’s playful; it’s a buildup. You don’t just jump right into anal. You get to build up to it, and that’s fun.”

For more of the "Best Lines" from this episode continue Here.

Resharing Our First PrimeCrush Toy Tester Review.

PrimeCrush Toy Tester Review:
We Read Tracey Cox's Great Sex Starts at 50 and Here's What We Thought.  By Dish Stanley

After writing in The Crush Letter No. 31 about the medical doctor who organized a retreat for five long-married couples from the midwest in Field Trip: What Five Midlife Couples Learned on One Powerful Week End Away With A Sex & Relationship Therapist, Crush Readers started asking for recommendations on sex products and toys.  I got a lot of notes like this one:

"I really like learning about sex products and experiences because it is out of my comfort zone, but reading about it in The Crush Letter makes me think that maybe it shouldn't be."

So we asked for volunteers among our community, and the long and short of it is that your fellow CRUSH Readers have been testing (and testing) the items in their first PrimeCrush Toy Box.  We thought we'd start with first things first, so we included a book about how great sex in midlife can be, Great Sex Starts at 50 by Tracey Cox.

Equal parts celebration, empowerment, and how-to, Great Sex is a practical resource for anyone who wonders how the changes in their own--or their partner's–bodies may affect the emotions or mechanics of sex.  It is much more than that, as Cox approaches sex as psychophysiological, meaning she explores the ways that your mind links to your sexual responses.  In writing about sex she takes an expansive view of what it is and includes non-penetrative, non-orgasmic touching and play.  Cox focuses on the health benefits of regular sex (solo or partnered).  She addresses the practicalities (and upsides!) of having sex with the same partner over many years, as well as the significance that having sex (or not) has on relationships.  She offers guidance on how to approach difficult conversations because, according to Cox's research, the couples who thrive sexually talk openly about sex.

The most shocking thing she discovered in couples over 50 was realizing how many couples post-50 have just stopped having sex and never talked about that fact, even among couples who otherwise communicate well and feel close and deeply in love. Some couples do decide not to have sex as part of their relationship and live perfectly happily, Cox points out, but if you are going to cut out such an important aspect of your relationship it is worth understanding why. If it isn't discussed, all sorts of inferences are often assumed, which themselves have an impact separate and apart from the physical. For instance, not feeling desired.  Which, by the way, is a major deal.

Did the PrimeCrush Toy Testers like Great Sex? Here's what they said:

Would you recommend Great Sex Starts at 50 to other PrimeCrush Readers?

5 out of 5 Toy Testers saidYes.”

Here are some of their specific comments on Great Sex.

What specifically was the most helpful?

The parts about how your bodies change - it is so important to be aware of not only your own (menopause in my case) but also what changes your partner’s body might be going through (in my case male); especially important because it is not like if he was aware he would necessarily feel comfortable sharing it. (He is shy and prone to embarrassment on such things.) I also read the parts about lube and sex toys. “Dawn”

Lots of topics related to the expansion of horizons. We needed a nudge on anal play and this helped.  “Greg”

In general, the book was fun to read as well as informative. I read the chapters that were relevant to me first and then found I was curious about some of the others. I definitely DO feel sexy, but reading the chapter on NOT feeling sexy, I discovered the section “Who Decided Old Was Unattractive?” A very good question. One we should all ponder in our youth-obsessed culture. “Dixie”

For the full review from our Toy Testers go here.

Oh, And Before We Go I Have to Share Charlie Mackesy's Post

Waaaay back in The Crush Letter No 2 I wrote that "Charlie Mackesy's book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is the finest tribute to friendship (and to hope and kindness) I have ever read." I hope you follow his insta feed, because we all really should (it's a vote for love & kindness, damn't), but in case you missed the above ...

Here's an excerpt from my original review of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse:

[I]t came at the right time - the outset of Covid - this B side heavy metal scifi album that's been playing on repeat for all us.  The Boy sold out a lot over its first 18 months, and before I could get it for some people I knew would love it, like my sister. The story begins with a lonely boy and a mole who likes cake (but who doesn't?) gazing together out into the wild (which is life). In their wanderings they meet a wary fox, which is a complicated relationship for any mole (the fox is a mole's natural predator). The fox's wariness comes from being hurt by life. The boy, the mole and the fox soon encounter a wise and gentle horse. (“The truth is everyone is winging it,” says the horse.)  The very loose story (Mackesy says the book was written to allow y0u to begin on any page) is illustrated touchingly by Mackesy's delicate and emotional drawings.  If this all sounds too slight, or irrelevant, it's not.  (Or "Well, then God help you honey," as my Grandmother Jesse Louise used to say.)"

Doing Nothing With Friends. It’s Not Really Doing Nothing. Review: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.
“Doing Nothing With Friends Is Never Really Doing Nothing, Is It?” No, according to Charlie Mackesy.

Mackesy shares his exquisite drawings on instagram here.  

Song Of The Week

Sheila E's drum solo. I came across the picture above of Sheila Cecilia Escovedo, otherwise known as "Sheila E," in the instagram feed of Women of a Certain Age @woacertainage last week. I remember how mesmerized I was by her gutsy, sexy playing when I first saw the drum solo linked to below, a performance from 1987.  In January 2021, Sheila E announced that she would be making a biopic about her relationship with Prince, with whom she played both musically and romantically. "Coming soon ... Sheila E to release "Girl Meets Boy", a film telling the beautiful story of her time with Prince," she wrote on her Facebook page. I haven't seen anything recent on the status, but I will definitely check it out if and when it airs.

Here is a fabulous video of Prince and Shelia E playing live in 2007 at the Alma Awards.

I hope that your first day of Spring (tomorrow) is absolutely delicious.

Dish Stanley XO,

The Crush Letter
The Crush Letter is a weekly newsletter curated by Dish Stanley 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?

And Here Are Links to Some of CRUSH Readers' Favorite Articles Published over the Last Year.

+SIGHS & moans: How To Stop Worrying About What Your Fantasies “Mean” and Start Loving Your Sexual Imagination. By Ralph Greco

+Great Escapes. Already Streamed All the Obvious Series? Here Are 10 Excellent Gems to Watch. By Dish Stanley

+A Book That Could Unf*ck Your Relationship: I Want This To Work By Elizabeth Earnshaw. Reviewed by Angela Kempf.

+So, You’ve Decided to Meet Some New Friends or Lovers in Midlife? Cool, Cool. Here Are My (Eclectic & Highly Idiosyncratic) Red Flags. By Dish Stanley

+The Ritual of Comforts. By lady Verity

+Naked & Not Afraid. By KC Roth

+The Midlife Friend Audit: You Need Good Friends. But Who Is Good? By Dish Stanley


'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. 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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 Naked & Not afraid by KC Roth Oasis in the Desert. 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