Surviving Houdini

By: Michelle Kennedy

7th grade Michelle presenting a book report on Houdini!


The Houdini begins with what seems like a plan. You and a new dude agree via text to spend some time together Saturday afternoon. The deal is set, sort of. He asked you, but you have zero idea what the date will look like.

Will you take a stroll through the park, go to the movies, or drink tea in a warm café by the fire? You don’t know but trust that he’ll come through.

But actually you don’t. You don’t know this guy at all. Deep down, you’re wondering: What in the Sam Hill are we doing on Saturday, and what time should I be ready?

The guy suggested it. So, of course you assume he’ll follow up a couple of days before, or even the day before to nail down the time and place. You kick yourself for not just being assertive in the first place and asking for the details when the “sort of plan” was introduced.

When you wake up Saturday morning and see he still hasn’t contacted you, a little bit of steam squeaks out your ears because now you don’t know if you should go through the trouble of washing your hair.

You want to contact him, but pride tells your fingers to erase that text and move on. You call your best friend instead and have that conversation a million other women have had before:


“This is dumb right? I should make other plans, right?

“Yes, make other plans. He Houdinied you.”


Houdini – A great escape artist who vaporizes into thin air. Where did he go and why?

The Houdini causes you to consider all possible scenarios: He died. He hooked up last night and is lying in bed with a girl named, Candi. He messed up the date of the sort of date. He simply doesn’t care.

You figure you’ll never know, and it doesn’t matter anyway, until he texts that night and says, “Happy Saturday.” What I ask, does one do with this “Happy Saturday,” exactly? This to me appears to be a blatant toe dip.


Toe Dip – A testing of the waters when one is not sure if the other is still up for talking to them. Toe dips are usually vague, light-hearted, and can be flirtatious.

One time a guy totally forgot our first date after we set it up and solidified details. The day came and went and he called the next week wondering if we were still on for the following weekend. Another guy forgot our date and then called me the next day from a champagne brunch so shitfaced he could barely speak.


He kept saying, “I really blew it. I dropped the mall, Michelle.”

“I think you mean, ball,” I said. I don’t know if he forgot or found something else to do.


That’s the thing. Even if they say they messed up the date, maybe they just changed their mind. Both scenarios initially feel shitty on the receiving end, but both also don’t have anything to do with us. Remember, we don’t know this guy.

My bottom line here: if a guy you are excited to meet forgets or Houdinis for your first date, that’s a really bad start. Yes, people make mistakes, but overall aren’t you supposed to be excited for that first meeting? Don’t you write it down and make note of it in your dome, think about what you will say, and look forward to it? I certainly do. I forget doctor’s appointments and exercising sometimes. I have never, however, forgotten a first date with a guy I’m interested in.

I have to admit I’m feeling some fear writing this. I’m wrapped up in how this topic and my experience with it will be received. I’m afraid that I will be perceived as bitchy, picky, or jaded. If a man wrote on this same topic, I believe he would be viewed as secure and confident.


I asked my friend Chris Peterson (one of the good ones), about this subject, and he reminded me that articles like these challenge women to look at their own standards in expecting accountability.

According to Chris, a guy that can’t put a woman’s needs on equal footing with his own won’t ante up down the line and watch the kids so his wife can have a girl’s night out. Those guys are takers more often than not and will end up with a girl who expects less from a man. The fact that it bothers me speaks to my valuing mutual consideration in a relationship. Thanks Chris!

When I asked him about potential judgment on the topic, he challenged me to stop questioning my integrity.

“Evidence of this oppression being so pervasive is that a progressive, educated woman like you second-guesses how dominant culture looks at this article’s writer,” Chris said. He’s right.

All of the good guys I’ve dated not only came through, they made a plan ahead of time and told me about it so I could get that hair primped and show up with bells on.  I never had to wonder or feel the sting of disappointment when they vaporized.  I don’t need perfection, but a plan and someone who follows through are must haves. This is what I can give, and I expect the same in return.

Before I finished writing this, I took a break to watch Timothy Shriver’s interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. The timing was perfect because he said: “To be unafraid of the judgment of others is the greatest freedom you can have.” I still have work to do in this area, but I’m getting there. Thank God for that.

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