"Dr. Corn and Mr. Studious"

The first week in Cornell is almost over for Zibin. He’s met his academic advisor, selected his courses, attended his first classes (even golf), and, most interestingly, he’s made quite a few new friends.

He’s the new kid on the block, so to speak. And it’s entertaining to hear him describe the people he has met so far, the interpersonal dynamics, and how he’s getting on.

It seems, so far, his new friends think of him as “Mr Nice” (which is true), and probably also “Mr ä¹–ä¹–ä»”” (which er… er… is slightly less true). Perhaps the image was bolstered by the fact that one of his new friends is friends with a secondary school classmate of mine, and that my friend told Zibin’s new friend that Zibin has quite the reputation of being “the perfect husband” (now, I wonder how that got around… :P). But if you ask me, it’s because of his glasses.

Yes, his glasses. I won’t ever forget the first time I ever saw Zibin wear glasses. It was in the winter of 1999. I was waiting outside his apartment with Sandy, my first year housemate. Zibin arrived, having just finished classes for the day. “Hello” was on my lips but surprise caused the word to fade when I saw him. With glasses. (I think both Sandy and I stared mutely for a split second before recovering.)
Why? Because he looked so… studious. And 斯文. So… scholarly. So different from the way he normally looks. Recently, a friend who has only ever seen Zibin with glasses told Zibin that he looked rather ‘academic’ for someone who signed on with the RSAF. (When Zibin told me, I almost died of laughter.) :P It’s not that Zibin isn’t studious, 斯文, or scholarly. It’s just that those are far from the most obvious adjectives people who know him well would use.

It’s amazing how different glasses make him look. And I pity Zibin’s new friends who’ve been misled into thinking of Zibin as merely this mild-mannered, nice, studious gentleman (am chortling even as I type this). I wonder what they will think when they find out the reason why Zibin was called the “Ah Beng Scholar” by his friends in NS.

Zibin’s actually rather smug about this current misperception. We were on Skype earlier, and he was on his way out. One moment he was the dashing, corny, mischievious imp. Then he put on his glasses, leaned closer to the webcam, grinned, and said with an unmistakable gleam that the glasses could not mask, “I think I’ll hide my true colours for a little while longer.”

With that, our Skype session ended, and he was off to parade his hidden corniness around an unsuspecting Cornell populace.


Zibin’s always had near perfect vision. He still does. He is slightly short-sighted in his left-eye, but not sufficiently so that he requires glasses. However, he has what laymen call a ‘lazy-eye’, and has been advised to wear glasses as much as he can to prevent the situation from deteriorating with age. Hence the recent ‘new’ image. :P


  1. No!@! I maintain that I have always been studious. It’s just that people through the years have always had terrible misperception of my innermost studious nature!@#!?!

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