Bad Timing by Elden Rhoads

Matchmaking mishaps and a pandemic challenge a single’s resolution to make 2020 the year of yes.

2020 was the year I resolved to be more social.

For years, the universe batted me around like a cosmic cat toy. Men, in particular, proved to be toxic. I finally retreated into dating exile and earned my #MeToo badge of honor when a man, whom I’ll call Dan (because that’s his name), had me banned and blacklisted in the entertainment industry for refusing his sexual advances.

Proximity to another man meant I was risking similar attacks against my career. If it came down to a choice, I basically had no choice.  As every woman knows, we have options when it comes to physical gratification. But hey, a girl’s gotta eat.

As 2019 came to an end, I was feeling confident enough to venture back into the world. Having determined I was a disaster if left to my own devices, I decided dropping some serious coin on a matchmaking service might reduce my chances of hooking up with another vindictive loser.

My “Heartalytics Experience” included three matches in the L.A. area selected by my personal “Love Hunter” from her exclusive Romance Rolodex. The jargon alone told me these people knew what they were doing. I felt safe in their capable hands.

First, I completed an online questionnaire, then spoke to Amy, my matchmaker, about what I wanted in a match. Obviously, sanity was a big plus. As was kindness, compassion and integrity. My ideal mate should share my creative interests and intellectual pursuits.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but what does he look like? She asked a ridiculous number of questions about physical characteristics—height, weight, hair color, eye color. Could I really assemble the perfect man from a set of parts? Amy said I’d be surprised how specific men could be about the women they wanted to date. Trust me, I was not surprised.

After a lengthy phone interview and a peek inside her roster of Romeos, all I had to do was give her some time and soon it would be raining men. Around Valentine’s Day, Cupid’s arrow hit.

Of the dozen or so profiles Amy and I discussed, each seemed reluctant to commit to a date, let alone a relationship. Hadn’t anyone mentioned this was a dating service? Why were all the CFOs and PhDs spending money on a matchmaker, then refusing every match?

As I was feeling slightly picked over, Amy said she matched me with a lawyer (are you kidding?), then explained he was an agent (not an improvement). We were supposed to meet for drinks, then he switched to dinner, then, at the last minute, he invited me to a show with comp’d tickets. I was to wait in front of the theater and look for a man wearing a black leather jacket and jeans. Just my luck, every other guy on La Cienega Boulevard was wearing a black leather jacket and jeans. After a long wait and a few awkward encounters, I saw a car pull up and park in the one open space directly in front of the theater.

It was moments before showtime and I had been prepared to leave when a black leather blur emerged from the car and rushed past me straight to the ticket window. Normally, it takes an instant to know if there is a future with a new guy. We hadn’t even met, and I was already thinking of Secret Agent Man in the past tense.

Eventually we connected and I learned quite a bit of arm-twisting went into planning our evening. With the energy of a dead battery, he told me about the eight women he dated through the service and how he found each one “uninspiring.” By now, I had absolutely no vested interest in what he thought of me. I couldn’t imagine why he felt compelled to blather on about his estranged wife who was unemployed and trying to steal all his money. Or, how he took pleasure in making the divorce difficult for her and didn’t care if she ended up homeless.

Change a couple of details, and he could have been Dan. What was it about me and bitter divorced men with excess baggage? Do opposites really attract? When Amy and I talked again, I made it clear I wanted enthusiasm in my next match. Instead, I got a global pandemic.

Some singles seem to be making a success of virtual dating while we’re on lockdown. There are also more creeps online with nothing to do but “coronazone.” I don’t know if the universe is trying to tell me all my relationships are doomed, or if I just have bad timing. But for now, I’ve canceled my remaining matches and have gone back to social distancing. After five months, 2020 is on track to becoming the worst year in modern history. I really can’t think about having a better social life until we’re all living in a better society.



Elden Rhoads

Elden Rhoads is an award-winning playwright, director and screenwriter based in Los Angeles. Leaving behind a successful career as a high-powered Wall Street consultant, she graduated with honors from UCLA’s Professional Writing Program. In addition to producing multimillion-dollar creative projects for the entertainment industry, she constantly pursues her passion for telling women’s stories.


Feature image: Aron Visuals via Unsplash