Naked Åuthors welcomes guest blogger and thriller writer Stacey Cochran. Stacey was born in Columbia, South Carolina. He has published four novels and a short story collection and has four times been selected as a quarterfinalist in the Writers of the Future short story competition. In 2004, his novel Culpepper was selected as a finalist for the St. Martin's Press/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife and son and teaches writing at North Carolina State University.
Worst Dating Mishaps
I should start this post by stating that I’m married. In fact, I’m married to a wonderfully tolerant, loving, compassionate, extremely intelligent, beautiful, adorable woman. We have even been blessed with a pretty nifty little guy named Sam.
But things weren’t always so rosy.
I think I was affected by some kind of brain disorder in my youth that lasted pretty much until I was twenty-seven. We’ll call this disorder “He Never Says the Right Thing-itis.” You won’t likely find this mental disorder in your copy of the DSM-IV, but I am living proof that the disease exists.
In the tenth grade, I fell so hard for a girl who sat in front of me in Civics class that I didn’t stop to realize that I was creeping her out. It was embarrassing to say the least, but I ended up asking her rather awkwardly if she would go to the winter dance with me at my high school.
Of course, my general creepiness and the way I approached her was all wrong and she said, “No.” I was crushed, and I didn’t handle my being crushed with Hemingway-esque grace under pressure.
I think I started crying actually. No, I know I started crying. It was awful. And like all small Southern high schools the entire student body knew by 2:30 PM that I had been reduced to tears… and was without a date.
This pattern pretty much emerged in every scenario involving someone of the opposite sex from 6th Grade into adulthood. I swear I was the most un-cool, awkward, emotionally-retarded guy on the planet.
When you’re in the tenth grade, it’s just heartache and painful and embarrassing, but you eventually move on. However, when an adult male behaves in this same way, it can genuinely frighten people.
At twenty-six, I drove two hundred miles to profess my love to a woman five years older than me. In my mind’s eye, I had all these images of Tom Hanks / Meg Ryan movies where the guy professes his love to the woman at the end of the picture, and they all break down in tears. And live happily ever after.
This doesn’t happen in real life. Or not in my life. The Meg Ryan in my story was genuinely disturbed by my advance and actually ordered me to leave her apartment. I think I basically freaked her out, and it felt like a borderline stalking incident.
How do we ever move on? How does anyone ever mature out of that awkwardness into a functioning, healthy adult? Or was it just me that suffered from emotional retardation?
The irony is that the healthiest relationship of my life came when I made the ultimate advance. I swore myself off women altogether and moved to a little cabin in the remote desert town of Oracle, Arizona. My unibomber-esque abode and lifestyle at that time was maybe the most disturbing period of my life. I was unemployed. I had no heat, no hot water; I had scorpions that crawled across my kitchen floor in the night like some people have roaches. Not to mention that I was physically removed from the world. The nearest “dating” town was Tucson some thirty miles away.
And yet it was under those conditions that I met Susan. She saw something in me that no one else had ever seen. She saw a guy capable of love.
It was either that or the scorpions. Or maybe she just felt sorry for me. I really don’t know.
But I do know that we have something special now. And our relationship feels rock-solid; almost divinely-touched rock solid.
So how about you? What was the worst dating experience of your life? And how did you find your soul-mate?