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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.
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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