Hugh: You Can Learn A Lot About A Person From Their Texts

‘You can tell a lot about a person from their texts,’ Sally said. ‘I’m predicting he’s twenty-something from Melbourne. Who knows why he’d want to move to Darwin.’

Our house is full of twenty-to-thirty-somethings. We get along great.

I’m one of the most recent arrivals to this share-house, so this was only my second time of screening new applicants for the soon-to-be-vacant room.

It didn’t go according to plan.


Our home’s owner and co-resident Sally read the first text to us.

:My name is Hugh. I’m interested in the room for rent. Can I come around tonight?’

:OK. See you between 5:30 and 6:30 pm

:Great. I’ll be there at 8.

:Did you get my text?

:Oh. Ok. CU then.


A house with six twenty-to-thirty somethings is usually busy. 

Last night was no exception.

As well as the anticipated inspection by Hugh, Sally was holding a cosmetics party later in the evening and expected the demonstrator, her friend Bonnie, at around five for tea and a chat before the party.

Our house has five bedrooms and one bathroom. Fortunately, there’s another shower hooked up outside in the garden. 

Just before five o’clock, Sally went into the outside shower.

Her phone rang.

I would have answered it, except that she’d taken it into the shower area with her and put it on the shelf in the shower alcove. Her hands were full of shampoo bubbles.

It was Hugh – at five o’clock.

‘I’m out the front of the house,’ he said.

The rest of us saw him. Then we saw Sally appear from the garden-shower, draped in a towel.

Hugh reached out to shake her hand. Sally’s hand gripped more tightly to the towel. 

Hugh didn’t seem to notice Sally’s discomfort and began to wander around the garden.

The first thing he noticed was our plunge-pool. A partially submerged water tank–not big enough to lie down in, let alone do any laps–it provides us with an opportunity to quickly cool-off.

‘What kind of water is it?’ Hugh asked.

Sally’s face reflected what the rest of us felt. What sort of water would you like? We’re happy with the H2O variety. Perhaps you’d prefer Avian or a mineral spring water?

Sally remained silent. Hugh continued to wander.

Sally’s partner collects stuff. Mostly, he gets it from the Dump Shop, our city’s very effective recycling store. A trail of his stuff decorates the backyard.

Hugh followed the trail to the shed.

‘There’s a lot of junk here,’ he said. ‘Did you buy it like this?’

Sally remained silent. Hugh wandered, uninvited, into the house.


Sally raced into her room, threw on something a little less revealing than her towel and seated herself on the couch. The rest of us observed, from a distance.

‘I would prefer a gas oven. Any chance of changing to a gas oven?’

‘Oh we’re thinking about a gas oven,’ said Sally.

‘Really?’ asked Hugh

‘No.’ said Sally.


He turned his attention to me, in the kitchen.

‘There seem to be girls living here. I’ve lived with them before. Oh, are there guys here too? That would be good to have a kick of the footy. Are they into footy?’

‘No,’ I said.

He continued. ‘But they must be into the footy.’

At precisely the moment he announced that guys must be into footy, Bonnie barged in through our side door with suitcases, ready for the cosmetics party.

‘I’m moving in!’ she shouted.

Hugh looked at Bonnie. He looked at her suitcases. He looked at me. His eyes questioned though didn’t they didn’t give away what he was thinking.

Hugh left. No good-bye. No thanks. No acknowledgment.

Needless to say, Hugh did not choose to join our household. Whether it was the oven, the lack of footy, or that Sally refused to let go of her towel to shake his hand, we’ll never know.

But Sally was right.

You can tell a lot about a person from their texts.