weirdo x eccentric
The first "comprehension" assignment/test I had to mark as a full-time teacher in a Junior College more than 10 years ago now (!) was based on a piece of writing on the differences between weirdos and eccentrics. Not unlike comparing nerds and geeks.
My memory fails me somewhat (Tym?), but I think the writer was saying that the key difference was that the latter (i.e. eccentrics), despite displaying behaviour that was not comprehensible to most of society, nonetheless posed no threat to society. In fact, they were tolerated, even appreciated, for their inscrutible interests and quirks. Odd but even charming or intriguing - from a distance. Weirdos, on the other hand, deviate from the norm in ways that society do not necessarily value.Odd and somewhat unfriendly, even frightening or just smelly.
The short piece made sense then, but now that I think about it, I wonder if the differences are not as simple as this: eccentrics are wealthier.
This is my 6th trip to Hong Kong in the last 10 years. Three for leisure, two for work, and this one for "study". But I am indifferent to Hong Kong, and hence the lack of photographs in this post. Still, I can see where Hong Kong is charming and Singapore is not. At the risk of cheap over-simplification, I imagine a visitor wants to like Hong Kong, while Singapore perhaps tries hard in wanting to be liked (but oh, tropical isle, you have a fan in me regardless).
The two big auction houses locate their auctions in Hong Kong. Years ago, they held them in Singapore. There are many reasons for them leaving - GST, proximity to vast Chinese wealth and East Asia's cultural/economic ascendancy over the poorer, fragmented Southeast Asian region. But I wonder if it is also because Hong Kong has the kind of private wealth that Singapore only has in its corporations,and usually partially state-owned or foreign corporations for that matter. While individuals can afford to be eccentric, such corporations with their public or multiple stake/shareholders can't.
So in the five days I spent in Hong Kong, I did meet some eccentrics, however "mild" their condition. They were magazine editors, collectors and gallery owners who confidently flaunt what distinguished them from us plebians - their wealth. But not through diamond-studded Frank Muller watches. Instead, they showed me their vampiric skin, told their dramatic personal histories (with the accompanying wardrobes), and pursued, ultimately, a knowledgeable collecting.