We can all relate: standing awkwardly by yourself during a party, with only a miserable half-full cup of rapidly warming beer in your hands to keep you company. Your wandering gaze chances upon another mired soul in the same predicament as you. For once this evening, you decide to be the bigger person. You swallow whatever ego is left— which, by this time, is probably the size of a malnourished pea, and stride over as confidently as you can to engage in some social niceties.

A staggering majority of the time, it goes something like this:

Person 1: “Hi there, nice to meet you, I’m David!”

Person 2: “Oh hey, nice to meet you too, I’m Sarah!”

Person 1: “Cool! Um, so what’s up with the weather, huh?”

Indeed, what is up with the weather? It barges into conversations you have with people barely acquainted enough to like your Instagram posts. The audacity of the act in itself can be off-putting from the onset; almost as unpleasant as the awkward conversation that ensues following the introduction of some distant uncle’s second wife’s nephew over pineapple tarts during Chinese New Year. And yet, we still talk about the weather.

Every. Damn. Time.

To be fair, the weather probably doesn’t want or need us to be talking about it. It probably will never be moved to confer any sort of consideration to whoever bemoans it, nor will it pat itself on the back on a job well done for a conversation playing out the way some insignificant soul had always hoped it would. No, the weather will rain when it wants, scorch when it chooses, and hail when it pleases. The weather doesn’t care about us, so why do we care about it so much?

Most people would be tongue-tied when prodded for a response; their words drying up quicker than a shallow puddle in the Sahara. There is solace in silence though: comfort in the acknowledgment that a void in the conversation trumps the relentless torrential downpour of the occasional half-wit’s unsubstantial thoughts.

The answer to the age-old question is deceptively straightforward in my opinion. The weather is quite simply all around us. It is inescapable and impactful on each and every person. Mankind has admittedly done quite a remarkable job of trying to artificially control and manipulate the weather. Without our efforts, Dubai would still be a desert wasteland, the number of ski resorts around the world would be a fraction of what it is today, and turning up for work in a t-shirt and slacks wouldn’t be considered inappropriate (much to the relief of youths worldwide).

Try as we might though, we cannot escape the weather’s all-encompassing grasp. While a large portion of bourgeoisie Singaporeans manage to escape the sweltering heat by perpetually keeping the air-conditioning on, the rest of us plebeians do not always have this privilege. The main aim of the game for us is to minimize our time spent outdoors by as much as possible. “Al fresco dining? No thanks, I’ll take the seats by the windows indoors if you don’t mind. A picnic, you say? That’s cute, but which hipster café are we really going to this Sunday? Oh you just bought a convertible sports car? Trendy, but I personally enjoy the thought of my car seats staying sweat-free.”

At this juncture, I owe an apology to the rare Singaporean-weather-loving Singaporean. Alas, one of them I am not. To be fair, weather does manage to please me on occasion. Even as a grown man, I struggle to contain child-like excitement at the sight of falling snow. Catching a glimpse of the northern lights is not yet ticked off my bucket list and the Californian summertime sunrise is something that I could actually wake up to day after day. Unfortunately, such weather phenomena happen with egregious infrequency across the globe, and absolute infrequency here at home. Singapore is not the weather utopia I dream of living in.

It is perhaps no wonder then, that we talk so much about the weather. The weather consumes us, engulfs us, and suffocates us perhaps more so in Singapore than anywhere else in the world.

So the next time someone comes up to you and asks what’s up with the weather, give him or her a break and engage in some friendly conversation. The ubiquitous effects of the weather here do not deserve the additional attention!

Chung Hong Zheng

Article originally appeared in The Blue and Gold Magazine SMU. Click here for the original article.

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