For a while I had a respectable job in this tiny town in the country surrounded by the farms and expectations of an all-seeing community. I was a younger man then and there were times when the weight of that town’s gaze caused me to look disconsolately down the bitumen road that would one day lead me back to anonymity.


Mostly though I survived by behaving myself and being a model of middle class propriety.  Of course, there was always a faint air of disappointment about me in the town; my predecessor had been player and coach of the previous year’s local football side. Just before he left, he led them to their first premiership.  But I tried to be what I could; on Sunday afternoon I would go down to the local clubhouse and drink beer with the team after their latest game.  One day, a stocky little farmer who played fullback and was famous for his niggling ability to unsettle opponents with a quick jab to the ribs when the umpire was otherwise engaged, said to me in a voice dripping with innuendo and beer, “So what have you been doin’ today?”  For a moment I flirted with a lie but then I heard myself saying quite truthfully, “Well, I made a beautiful chocolate cake this morning but I ran out of icing sugar.” Then I looked nervously around to see where the umpires were.


A year passed and I managed to keep my respectability in tact and even made some friends.  I knew that this delicate detente would be sorely tested, however, when my girlfriend arrived in the New Year to live with me.  Living in sin was not a passport to social acceptance in this little town of 11 houses and a wheat bin.  I decided to tell my regional manager so that, when the complaints came in, he at least would be prepared.


In December, I had my chance to discuss it with him in his office.  He was a serious man with impenetrable eyes.  As I began to explain my dilemma, it suddenly struck me that I may have misjudged his willingness to be complicit in my tawdry living arrangements.  But he heard me out and then assured me that de facto relationships were recognised by law and that he was sure that my reputation in the community was such as to sustain me through this perceived lapse of judgement.


I stood up relieved and grateful.  I thanked him for his understanding and support.  “It was my pleasure,” he smiled and then he bent back to some papers he was signing.  I walked towards the door and then I heard him say, “There is one thing though.”


I turned back, trying to think of which angle of the problem I had not considered.  “Yes?” I asked.


My boss paused and then, looking me directly in the eyes, said, “ You will be sleeping in different rooms, I presume.”





Filed under life

8 responses to “Respectable

  1. And there was me thinking Australia is such a big country.

  2. Tim

    And you responded, “Yes. The wild and acrobatic sex acts will always happen in the formal dining area.” – Tim

  3. Kym

    Well Told!

    And, of course you know best, but I suspect a bit of rural digging at the serious outsider. Having perhaps been guilty of that same sin myself once or twice, I am quick to suspect the same teasing in other cases.

    If it was serious, then I only hope you were quick witted enough to reply like Tim suggested above.

  4. Love Tim’s response 🙂

    This made me laugh, but really, it’s pretty darn sad.

  5. Well, yes, this would have been England thirty years ago, I guess. I remember the first time I moved in with a boyfriend at 21, late eighties for heaven’s sake, I had to go see my grandmother to explain (though she was fine, best to try them out before you get married she whispered, how right she was….. 🙂 and many of the older people in our apartment block asked when when we were getting married with toothsucking regularity.

  6. ps laughing at Tim’s brilliant response too.

  7. max

    I am torn between wanting him to be serious, which is stellar, and wanting him to be mildly kidding which is stellar too.

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