I was 13 when my family moved from Ottawa to Singapore. We came home to Canada every summer though, and the first year after we moved I was back in time to attend the 8th grade graduation of all my friends from my old middle school. There was a ceremony and a dance afterwards, which I went to with my friend Arwen and her boyfriend at the time, Rob – who, in retrospect, looked a lot like a young Dave Grohl, even though of course no one knew who that was yet (it would still be a few years until Nirvana’s explosion onto the music scene). Anyway, Rob’s best friend was a guy named Justin, who was…well, seriously adorable. By 14-year-old girl standards, he was totally super cute. Of course I developed an instant crush on him, as you do at that age, and spent the whole night slow dancing with him to songs like ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ by INXS and Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. At one point during a lull in the music, as we engaged in some awkward small talk (14-year-olds are not the most sophisticated of conversationalists – at least, I wasn’t) he said to me “…so, Singapore huh? Is that, like, near Kingston?”
I always had a thing for smart boys, so an uninformed remark such as this was enough to douse the flames of my teen ardor. How could someone think that Singapore, a major shipping port and one of the world’s only examples of an island-city-state, was actually a place in Canada? I sighed to myself, and summarily dismissed poor Justin for his lack of knowledge of the world.
You know what, though? The joke was on me. About ten years later I was flipping through a friend’s copy of a magazine on tourist destinations of Ontario, and…yeah, it turns out there is a Singapore, Ontario. It totally exists. And all these years I had unfairly judged this dude for not being enough of a smartie, when he actually knew more than I did about geography.
Why am I telling you this story? I don’t know. The whole Singapore, Ontario thing makes me laugh and has served ever since as a reminder to me not to judge other people too quickly. Sometimes the way we perceive a situation is not necessarily the full picture, and if we dismiss others because they don’t appear to meet our standards in certain areas – be it looks, smarts, personality, whatever — then we might end up missing out on knowing someone pretty cool. Just something to think about, I guess.