INGRID DOULTON | Lady Writer | Contact

Starting out as a string of late-night weekend rendezvous with regular healing weekday silence, a relationship between two city workers turned into something mildly more significant last Sunday as one of them met the family for the first time.

However, just as they pulled into the driveway of a leafy Betoota Grove home, mere seconds away from the brunch table, Rob Starling turned to Sacha Connor and apologised for everything that he thought was about to happen.

“Uncle Jeff might make a racist joke or he might just sit there and stare at you. I know you’d probably want to pull him up on it but it’d be easier if you didn’t. You can do it at Christmas, just not today. It’d be a good excuse to leave early, actually,” he said.

“But yeah. Look, I’m sorry for what you’re about to walk into.”

Sacha and Rob spoke to The Advocate today over a French Quarter sushi train lunch about what happened next.

“I just said it was OK a million times and said nothing could really shock me,” said Sacha.

“What did he want me to say? ‘Oh, actually, let’s just turn around and go home and pretend today never happened,’ or something like that?”

“But I can see why he felt like he had to apologise in advance. Yeah, in retrospect I understand his concerns.”

As predicted, Uncle Jeff made a crude joke and let his eyes burn holes in the back of Sacha’s head all afternoon.

Rob’s mother chose an especially hostile line of questioning that crept as close to the line as one could tolerate.

His father just looked at the barbecue and thought about what the cricket and toyed with the idea of getting Austar this summer for the cricket.

Rob’s sister, Gwen, was semi-conscious on the couch with a wet washer over her face and a bucket by her side.

“If somebody tries to sell you a bag for $200 in a club. Don’t buy it, it’s probably not what you think it is,” she said, coughing as she shook Sacha’s hand for the first time.

Looking over at Rob, he shrugged and gave a double thumbs up.

As the sun disappeared behind the Colorbond at the end of the yard, Rob said he had to go because he had some work to finish up before Monday.

Dad shook his hand and went back to cleaning the barbecue. Mum hugged Sacha with a mild disapproval and Gwen was now unconscious.

“Well, that went well,” said Rob getting back in the car.

More to come.


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