By Hans Ebert
The accidental drug overdose death of my best friend since school Steve (Tebbutt), below right, had me reeling down inside and it was only now having Trina (Dingler) in my life that gave me the emotional support needed. We weren’t living together, but spent as much time together as possible.
I was still sharing an apartment with local radio disc jockey Mike Souza in Arts Mansion, below, which was like some big crash pad and waterbed for many in Hong Kong just starting out adult life or trying to figure out where we belonged and what was in store next. Kitty, my much-loved cat was as always there for company.
Trina was driving her beaten up white Volkswagen and living with her parents and two younger brothers in the far more upmarket area known as Shouson Hill.
I was starting to hit my stride in advertising and the ad agency was picking up more new clients including McDonald’s. This was to be a turning point in my career. Trina was assisting a Filipino film critic who reminded me of old time character actor Peter Lorre and was still very much in the closet and needing her to be his trophy chaperone. Everyone saw through it. He fooled no one. He couldn’t stand me and the feeling was mutual.
In between dinners at La Taverna, below, which seemed to attract most of Hong Kong as it was one of the city’s first Italian restaurants, and smoking a joint with Bee Gee Barry Gibb and his wife Linda in their hotel suite at the Lee Gardens hotel before a concert at City Hall by the group, Trina and I got to know each other without thinking about it.
We simply wanted to be with each other for better or worse. It was nothing like the dating ritual these days where women do the maths and the male of the species are constantly looking to see if they can do better. Times have definitely changed. And not for the better. As for Trina and myself, we knew the time had come to live together.
When calling my parents in Melbourne to let them know their little boy was writing a new chapter to his life, what calmed their nerves was that I wasn’t going out with anyone “dark”. It’s a Dutch Burgher hangup. “Dark” is not good. Breaking the news to Trina’s Lutheran minister father and mother was painless though they must have been concerned inside. Interracial marriages were still not that readily accepted.
The two pieces of advice I was given by her dad was that Trina was “headstrong” and would not be easy to live with and how, if we ever had a child together, he or she would be a “half breed”. The beauty of the Eurasian was still some years away.
Children were the furthest thing from our minds. We had to first get our careers off the ground and become financially stable. We- and Kitty-moved into a tiny but very creatively designed Japanese-style apartment in Park Road, which set us back HK$600 a month. Trina wasn’t the greatest cook, but she made great Sloppy Joes, tacos and a lasagna. But with restaurants around us, finding places to eat were not a problem.
We enjoyed being in that apartment though she did insist that I throw out the expensive snakeskin boots I had purchased in LA in a moment of weakness to look like some Chicano rock star.
Six months later we got married in the Church Of All Nations with a reception at the Repulse Bay Hotel following one of the great proposals of our time: “You know, I could marry you.” And we did.
The lead up to the wedding had its dramas- like us not realising we needed a certificate registering our marriage. Who knew? We hadn’t married before and no one told us. So, as invitations had been sent out, our real wedding anniversary was a month later by when we had made the marriage legal.
With superstition deciding that the bridegroom is not allowed to see the bride before the wedding day, Trina stayed at her parents place that night. Mike Souza was the best man, I dressed as if one of the Bee Gees, Trina looked her usual beautiful self, and we walked out after taking our vows to “The Best Of Our Love” by the Eagles. Years later I realised it was a breakup song: “You see it your way/And I see it mine/And we both see it slipping away”.
Though passing out after the reception from drinking too much from the cup of “happiness”, it was a happy wedding. I managed to get myself together to have a good honeymoon at the Repulse Bay Hotel before carrying Trina over the threshold as we returned the next morning to our apartment in Park Road. Life was good. And it was to get even better.
(To be continued…)
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