One of the stranger things that I've wondered about since moving here is where, exactly, amorous teens go to...*ahem* spend some time alone...
This is, admittedly, a strange thing to wonder about. However, it just seems that this country is so full sometimes- there are people everywhere. You never end up in an empty movie theatre or a lonely back street. And kids live with their parents in small flats, typically all the way through college. There's certainly no room for any kind of privacy in a flat, even if your parents are rather open-minded and willing to let you and your opposite-sex friend hang out together. And kinds don't drive because cars are expensive and taxed, and generally reserved for relatively well-off adults. So teens can't exactly hop in the car and drive off to the countryside. Given that public displays of affection are generally frowned upon, where do they go when they want to make out? Or more?
Well. I found at least one answer to my nagging question.
I wasn't feeling well last week, so I'd spent three days holed up in the apartment, coughing and re-watching our Firefly DVDs for the hundredth time. By Friday afternoon I was ready to get out for some fresh air, so I went ahead and started getting ready to attend a biodiversity symposium at NUS. My friend (and fellow "monkey lady") Andie Ang was giving a talk about the black-banded leaf langurs of Singapore, and I didn't want to miss it. I got all ready to head out. I opened the front door...and froze.
In order to understand my reaction to what was about to happen, you have to know a few things: 1) The night before Bryan and I had watched Nightmare on Elm Street. I had never seen it before, and I was still a little edgy, thinking that Freddie might pop out of my closet or something, and 2) Bryan and I live on the 20th floor, so nobody ever takes the stairs up this high.
This should explain why, when I opened my door that Friday afternoon and saw two people on the stairwell next to our flat, instead of nodding politely and going about my business, I froze like a deer about to get run down by a Mack truck. I instantly assumed that Freddie, or some equivalent evil monster, was waiting for me just outside my front door, ready to pounce. It took me about a second to realize that the people were not serial killers, but teenagers, a boy and a girl. They saw me about when I saw them. The girl had been reclined on the stairs, and the boy had been on top of her, in a rather incriminating position. My eyes went wide, but his went wider, as he leaped to his feet and smoothed out his shirt, all while maintaining panicked eye contact with me. His mouth moved but no sound came out- I think he was trying to cobble together some sort of explanation to offer me. The girl looked up at me and her face registered surprise for a second before she smirked and began slowly buttoning up her school uniform shirt. I realized that I'd been motionless and staring for far longer than was necessary, and at the same time it occurred to me that this situation was hilarious. I smirked back at the girl, managed to control a burst of maniacal laughter that I felt rising in my throat, and set about the tedious business of unlocking the gate, walking outside, locking the door, and closing and locking the gate, all while the teen couple was still less than 10 feet away from me and I was slowly losing my control over the laughter that was bubbling up. I pressed the elevator button and bit my lips hard until the elevator arrived and the doors shut behind me, at which point I laughed like a woman possessed.
It was all very hilariously awkward, but now I know that one place that the teens seem to like to be alone is the stairwells of the upper levels of HDB flats. Later that weekend, Bryan and I went on a walk through Chinese Garden at night (it's open until 11 PM), and I think we found Teen Hook-Up Spot #2. Fascinating.