5 Peculiar Stories: Dating Mementos

Nerve editors on the weird detritus of past loves.

By Nerve Editors

Spike and Jim

In Hong Kong, most kids have Chinese names and English names. English names come from two places. If your parents speak English, they pick one for you, usually from the late eighteenth century. (That’s why there are so many Winstons and so many Winifreds.) If they don't, you get to pick your own. Which is how I ended up dating Spike Hui. 

When I left a month later, he gave me a parting gift.

He’d originally named himself something like Lucky, but then changed it when he was twelve (to the much more normal “Spike”). We met at a bar in Bangkok — both there on vacation — and when I came back, I started climbing over the wall of my boarding school so I could spend the night in his tiny flat. 

He was a product designer, a bit more than ten years my senior, and charmingly strange. He spoke perfect English (with the Queen’s accent), and liked to take me to avant-garde furniture shows or “to look at some fabric.”

Spike had made his name in the design world by creating a rabbit lamp that you had to stroke or it would turn off. (Everything he liked was exactly that twee, and exactly that practical). His best friend was a huge grey rabbit, Jim, who irritated my allergies, tripped up my feet, and offended my sense of the proper degree of man-rabbit separation.

One evening, as we sat smoking cigarettes on the fire escape (with Jim, of course), I remember asking, “If you had to leave one of us, Jim or me, who’d it be?” I was half kidding, probably, and half feeling insecure since I was actually about to move home. Spike, typically, interpreted the question very seriously. He paused, and then said quietly. “You would find a new boyfriend."

“What?” I asked. 

“If I left Jim, he would die.”

When I left a month later, he gave me a parting gift. It was a twelve-month calendar, hand-drawn with a designer’s skill and professionally printed on large, heavy paper. Each of the illustrations features a smiling light-haired boy and a big gray rabbit on some sort of weird fairy-tale adventure — walking on the beach wearing giant seashell hats, or sailing a pirate-ship on a jungle river. 

It’s hung on my wall ever since. — Ben Reininga, Nerve Editor 

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Commentarium (26 Comments)

Jun 13 11 - 4:15am

I wish I could see that calendar. And the necklace.

Jun 13 11 - 7:14am

So if you oversleep and are late to work it's not a fuckup worth owning up to? When you're feeling too lazy to do your share of the work it's not worth owning up to? Hypocritical. The other stories, though, I enjoyed. The last one has a lot of growing up to do.

Jun 13 11 - 10:42am

I flooding someone else's apartment is on a different level than being late for work or not doing your dishes right away.

Jun 13 11 - 10:12am

Actually, I think it was pretty honest.

Jun 13 11 - 11:13am

Li Po Chun UWC power!

Jun 13 11 - 7:55pm

go gay UWC! American West alumna here.

Jun 13 11 - 8:29pm


Jun 13 11 - 11:40am

lovin the shaggy reference.

Jun 13 11 - 11:55am

Frank O'Hara is the shit.

Jun 13 11 - 12:37pm

It honestly doesn't matter if you're a boy or a girl but I wish a knew. I hate when I'm reading a story and picturing a girl and then I find out its a boy when I see the name (first story). Please be clear, it has a lot more to do with description and picturing a relationship than gender. Maybe I shouldn't have assumed, but when you're the subject of a story you should let the reader know what's going on.

Jun 13 11 - 3:32pm

why? gay love, straight love, it's all love.

Jun 13 11 - 5:26pm

Wow, RJ, that must have been really hard for you when you came to the end and realized that your minutes spent imagining a hetero couple had been for naught. I hope you've recovered from the deception, since really, anything that doesn't conform to our preconceived notions of the world should really start with a warning label rather than treating it as another equally valid alternative. It's only common courtesy.

Jun 13 11 - 5:57pm

For whatever reason it was clear to me that the author of the original story was a guy, but in any case, what do you want them to do? Write "two guys alert" at the top?

Jun 13 11 - 11:32pm

Maybe the fabric shopping and rabbit-petting lamp? I'm not saying there aren't straight guys like that, but it certainly set off my gaydar.

Anyway -- if it bothers you, just look at the by-line. I personally enjoy that not only do you learn about the S.O. over the course of the essay, you also slowly learn about the narrator.

Jun 13 11 - 6:57pm

Ben, you inspired someone to paint you as a guy wearing a giant seashell hat, frolicking w/ a large gray rabbit. Out of the seven billion of us alive today, you are likely the only one who can claim that. This calendar must be left to someone in your will or loaned to the Whitney. It can never be lost to the dustbin of time.

Jun 13 11 - 8:36pm

@ben, really love how you described the asian getting a caucasian name methodology. my parents were pretty awful at english when we first moved from china and tried to name me winnie. so glad i put my foot down and didnt end up with a name that sounds like a horse.

Jun 13 11 - 10:23pm

The ten-penny bracelet gives new meaning to the phrase "10 cents a dance".

Jun 14 11 - 7:23am

I like the one the stolen name tag off the dorm room door. Well random, with such a 16 year old thought behind it :)

Jun 14 11 - 10:40pm

When I read Kevin's story, I thought it was a woman speaking, I guess because I could relate so much, but it didn't change my perception when I realized a man wrote it. We're all human right?

Jun 15 11 - 1:07pm

Kennedy's story wasn't nearly as interesting as the rest - I guess there was so little emotion in it.

Jun 15 11 - 1:07pm

Kennedy's story wasn't nearly as interesting as the rest - I guess there was so little emotion in it.

Jun 17 11 - 12:39am

Each memento has a story - some are very inventive, some entertaining and some just that little bit stalkerish. --- Four women in four cities take on 365 dates between them. Visit www.3six5dates.com to find out more!

Jun 20 11 - 5:11pm

I had an insane crush on one of the chefs that worked at the same dining hall with me. I had just turned 18 and he was 25, and I wanted nothing more than to have some meaningless sex with his hot townie ass. Somehow, I thought a NSA fling with a coworker would be just the way to lose my virginity. He invited me to his 26th birthday "party," where I was the only girl in a room full of older men, trash, liquor bottles of varying degrees of fullness, and fruit flies. He had his lucky golf tee tucked behind his ear, and he later gave it to me that night. Despite my best attempts at seduction, he told me I was too young and he would feel as if he was taking advantage of me if we slept together. He was just a good guy, I guess. I'm glad he resisted my clumsy efforts to sleep with him. I still have his lucky golf tee, I wove it into a cuff bracelet. Three years later, I'm beyond glad that we never slept together, and we're friends to this day.

Jun 25 11 - 7:14pm

Penny Bracelet: ouuu I wonder who the "celeb" is.

Jul 23 11 - 1:03pm

A mntiue saved is a minute earned, and this saved hours!

Aug 31 11 - 3:02pm

You couldn't pay me to ingore these posts!