Posted by: canaryinacoalmine | April 4, 2006

how to play games without knowing you are

“Oh yeah, I’m fine. I’m great.” I said loudly as I sucked down my drink, placed it on the table, and looked for the waiter to order a refill.”

I needed to get a hold of myself and I needed to get out of my head.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

Even when Tony is being quiet, as most men are when a woman begins talking about relationships, I found that I was trusting him and valuing his judgment within the first five minutes of meeting him. He definitely seemed to be studying me and wasn’t sure what level of crazy he was going to place me on.

“I’m sorry, I can’t imagine what you think of me,” allowing waves of self conscious to take over me. I felt like bursting into tears in the middle of Katz’s Deli while I sat with strangers who invited me to dinner after a drawn out day.

Wasn’t it obvious? I couldn’t believe someone would ask such a softball question. Though having been hit in the face by a softball when I was younger I had firsthand knowledge of the misnomer quality of that expression. This doesn’t stop me from using the phrase, it just means that I always tack on that addendum, making it sort of a drawn out process. I could probably make things easier on myself if I stuck to adjectives like easy or bullshit.

“I think you’re a little confused,” he replied.

I felt taken aback. I hadn’t expected him to answer. I was rhetorical with my insecurity which was better left floating out there than pinned to the wall. Now I was confident with knowing he was not judging me, he was pitying me.

Even worse.

“Oh really, I said archly.

It was the day after the man I was dating pulled a Houdini. He and I arrived at my apartment around 3:30 am after an evening of festivities and were standing in my kitchen talking. Walking to the fridge I removed two bottles of water and was feeling little pain after two red snappers, several drinks, and not enough food. In the process of grabbing the water I knocked a tub of blueberries from the fridge and stood drunk watching them scamper across the kitchen tile.

“Ah, that sucks. I’ll get it tomorrow,” I stammered. He meticulously went to work and proceeded to pick up every single blueberry and place them in the sink.

Grabbing me by the hips and pulling me close he said, “I’m going to go home.”

Biting my lower lip and hiding my own disappointment, “Okay,” what was I to do, fight him on it? I think not.

After weeks of incessant text messages and random phone calls over the course of the day he pulled the Houdini and vanished. Two days later I was talking to my sister when she said, “Maybe he doesn’t like blueberries.”


The text message was sent, “I was talking to Carlin and she said maybe you don’t like blueberries. I have to ask, is that it? Do you not like blueberries?”

His response pinged back within three minutes, “I love blueberries.”

I replied, “Phew that’s a relief.”

I already knew what his issue was. He was a Houdini, a Slim Shady, a Lack of Communicator. Even if he was thinking of communicating, he restrained based upon something he didn’t know how to deal with, the emotion of mass confusion. I was denying what I knew was good but not permanent. I plead the fifth knowing he clung to the idea of what and or who he needed me to be. Intentionally I kept my eyes closed a moment to long as we pulled away from a kiss like an “over dramatic actor”. Judge me if that’s what you need to do – but damn it – you’ve been there without knowing that’s where you were.

The Houdini is a common theme among my crew lately. You’re seeing a special someone for several weeks then in a “alla kazaam” they disappear leaving you staring down a cliff in hopes of hearing an echo of recognition. There’s nothing. No response. A text message is sent like a flare in the sky. When they finally do respond it’s an “I’m sorry I didn’t….. and the phone works two ways. You could have called me too.”


My childhood dog ran away when I was ten years old. I posted flyers on every phone pole and public bulletin board I could reach. My heart broke as my ego shattered because I didn’t know what happened to my friend. I shook in the dark with the threat of a spiraling panic fearing she was run over or worse, happier with another family. The uneasy feeling of a Houdini is no different.

My response, “When you do that, it’s like you pulled my pigtails and pushed me down on the playground.”

There’s a lesson to be learned here.

****update disclaimer – this was a long time ago


  1. All that waiting for either nothing or so little return seems…just wrong…

    …I ahve to wonder why he went home, and then didn’t call.

  2. Long ago when I was single (black space, fuzzy, but still there), I HATED this gutless bastard. Be a man. Tell me you’re not interested. Tell me you wasted countless hours of my time that I could have drowning in martinis and poor-quality network television.

    Screw him, Sass. You’re way better than this.

  3. I know how you feel. There was this red head … 😉

  4. so heres the question, then sass. what now? do you wash your hands of it? or do you flip thepage and read on?

  5. disclaimer: this ended weeks ago, I’m just writing about it now

  6. Sass, what you need is a Leon Battista Alberti, not a Harry Houdini. You’re too complicated for a simple escape artist. What you need is a Renaissance man. He’s out there, somewhere. Hey, if I can find the total opposite of my ex-wife, you can find the opposite of your escape artist.
    Just do what I did, actually follow all that wise advice from those who’ve been burned by love before you. Some of them are pretty darn good at this stuff, even if they don’t always remember that. 😉

  7. i feel like this opening credits to this post should read…dedicated to….well, you know….

  8. Jess, you have it right, Houdini = Coward.

  9. Is this the guy I think it is?

    Maybe he thought you were abusing his beloved blueberries? Oh well, his loss.

  10. I’m confused, but not because I don’t understand what you’re talking about. I’m confused because I do.

  11. Ah Houdini…I suppose some people just aren’t able to stick around. And that’s too bad because when they pull the disappearing act, they tend to miss the good stuff.

  12. then i have my answer

  13. The Houdini eh? That really sucks! I hate when people do that in any aspect of my life, and I think that I hate text messages for that reason too. They can be fun for flirting but they create these weird relationships with no basis in real words. I don’t know if that makes sense or not….


  14. Brilliant post! I need to forward this to my Houdini.

  15. If you as me, its the chump way to end things. Its not easy, but what ever happened to “Do you have a second to talk?” Honesty really is the best policy…unless you are in the closet about your blueberry allergy.

  16. ooh, the lesson for me is ‘absence makes the heart go wonder.’ whether childhood pet or adolescent girl, those who pull Houdini have always fascinated me. i rarely write about those who stay, after all. the ones who leave us, however much hurt it brings, sometimes cause us to ask those questions of ourselves that we might not want to ask. and the thought that i might somehow lift myself up to such a level as to make them regret the disappearing act is a challenge too tempting to resist.

    tonight i’m drinking to the Houdinis of the world. they’ve actually made me a better man.

  17. I think you’re being hard on Houdini. He loved his wife and mother (even tried to contact her in the afterlife). Why compare a total fool to an escape artist?

  18. You are right men and woman both have those common ways of acting, frustrating as they can be occasionally we find the one that bucks the trend and stays with us.

  19. I hate Houdinis. They’re bastardos, all of them. But I love you. Thanks for being a good friend. I had a blast last night. I think I’ll blog about it … beware!

  20. why do guys keep shitting on you? *scratching my head in disbelief*

  21. Maybe he was trying to be a gentleman and not take advantage of you since you were drunk? Or maybe he liked the blueberries sooooo much that when he saw your lack of concern for them as they flew across the floor, that he became offended and had to leave? Or maybe he thought you were too cute for him and realized he was out of his league? I don’t know, just trying to make you feel better. Sorry he vanished on you. I think I would need to hear more of the story to decipherer the possible reason why he left without a trace.


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