Thursday, June 11, 2009

Guest Blogger Stacey Cochran

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.

Stacey Cochran

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?


  1. Welcome, Stacey!!!! My worst dating mishap was wearing inappropriate attire on a first date. I was invited to a fraternity party and because I'm a hick and didn't know anything about fraternity parties, I dressed for the "red carpet." Unfortkunately, everybody else was wearing casual attire. I didn't take off my coat the entire night.

  2. i would love to hear susans side of that story.
    do stay away from those hanks/ryan movies in future!


  3. Nice to see you naked, Stacey.

    Oh, that didn't come out right.

    Worst dating experience: I was in college, fresh from the army and 3 years of living with men, working with men, eating with men, drinking with men and slogging through shit with men. I had lost what scant social graces I might have once had with women.

    I met Becky on Chinese New Year and we immediately hit it off. Her enchantment didn't last, however. Mine did. Big time.

    She finally sent her roommate down to tell me she wasn't interested. In the lobby of the dorm. With a lot of women around to witness this dump by proxy.

    It hurts even to this day, 40 years later.

  4. from Jacqueline

    Hi there, Stacey! Welcome to our naked world!

    Probably the worst first date was the one I had with my husband, and the second wasn't exactly all beer and skittles either (as we say where I come from). But something made us try one more time, and it was one of the best dates ever. Of course, our dogs hadn't met at that stage, and really, in the long run, it all hinged on whether they'd get along - and you could say that was a case of When Spike Met Sally.

  5. What soul mate? I'm still looking. :0)

    Worst dating experience? I suppose that's a tossup, but I'll go with one that left an impression, back during junior college.

    I had just started dating a redhead named Jackie, who sat by me in microeconomics. I also was working midnight to 7am, then going to class all morning, at the time. One day after class, I thought it would be a cool (read: stupid) idea to call her up after doing this umpteen hour thing.

    Well, I did, and that was cool with her, so I went over to her folk's house. She wanted to watch some old war movie, sitting on the couch, something that I was too....dense to realize, with both parentts gone. Imstead, convinced her to go to the town park, where I thought it would be great to play on the deserted toys stuff.

    So I crawled into the Barrel O' Fun, and wondered where she was. After a few minutes, I looked out to see where she was. Easy enough, sitting in my car. She didn't speak to me.

    I realized later that she really had plans for that living room...

    The good news, though, I ran into her about six weeks later, at the library. It seems that she had met another guy two weeks after we stopped seeing each other--and they were getting married that weekend.


    Still, I've been incredibly wary about trusting myself around anyone when I'm even remotely tired, let alone out of it, since that day. Almost three decades ago.

    Welcome to the party, Stacey! Somebody hand the man a Dark and Stormy...

  6. I have mercifully blocked those humiliating bad dates from my memory, which means they'll all pop up when I'm toddling around the nursing home. Maybe by then I won't care.

    But Lillian and I met through the SCA and became friends. However we "discovered" each other while working together to make a dying friend's last few weeks easier. The circumstances were sad, but we've created something wonderful together.

    And Stacey, I do understand the not-fitting-in aspect of dating, and while I can't see living in a place where scorpions nod as they go about their business, that picture of you and your family just radiates happiness! Congratulations!

  7. Wow! Thanks so much, everyone, for welcoming me so warmly!

    Anon, I think I'm going to get Susan on here to post her side of the story (she tells me it wasn't the scorpions!)

    Patty, Fran, Jacqueline, Jeff, and David, you guys are hilarious! Thanks so much for sharing.

    Funny how others' pain is so fun (and funny) to read about!