(The following narrative was inspired by true events. Play song while reading)


I got off the L train at the 1st Avenue stop in the East Village. As I ascended the stairway to street level, I wondered if she was heading the same direction.

 I was coming back from Brooklyn after briefly meeting up with my friend Antonio and his girl at Union Pool. It was a temperate summer night; the air was warm, the sky was clear, and the people were out sipping ice cold Tecates. It got a bit dull playing third wheel, so I decided head back to Manhattan, contemplating if I should put an end to the Saturday or link up with another group of friends to extend the night’s possibilities. It was only 1:30 AM, so it could go either way.

The subway ride under the East River dragged. The L was slower than usual, but when is it ever reliable? Coincidentally, I ran into my buddy Paul who was returning from a BBQ, and we chopped it up about our day and how we needed to start our own entrepreneurial project because working for large corporations was totally unfulfilling. As we conversed, her tattoo distracted me.

An Asian girl, around 26-28 years old, had her back facing towards me and Paul, but I could still see the tattoo that adorned her right wrist. She held high onto the pole in the middle of the train while making small talk with her friend, revealing her body art for the world to see. It resembled a group of intertwined circles, like a diagram of an atom. It might have been the hypnotizing circles or the several beers plus a tequila shot consumed earlier in the night, but either way, I was fixated on her ink for most of the ride. She had a “West Coast Asian” vibe and my assumptions were affirmed when I overheard words like “California” and “San Francisco” in their conversation. Should I chime in with the hopes of putting a new twist to the night’s plans?

The lethargic train eventually reached 1st Ave and I was snapped out of the binding spell of the tattoo. I was putting way too much thought into a girl whose face still remained a mystery. As I prepared to exit, Paul suddenly said: “Oh hey, this is Rex”. I turned around, and she looked pretty nice. It turns out that the tattooed girl was at the same BBQ as Paul, and he just didn’t feel like introducing us 20 minutes ago. I quickly shook her right hand, the one that connected to the wrist with the circles, gave her a smile, and instantly forgot her name like how I usually do when I first introduce myself to others.

I got off the L train at the 1st Avenue stop in the East Village. As I ascended the stairway to street level, I wondered if she was heading the same direction. We were on 14th St and depending on what I decided to do; I was either heading home to 9th or meeting with some comrades down near Houston. She said she lived on 5th, which meant I only had 9 blocks with her, unless I could convince her otherwise.

12th St.: I got the basics: she was Jen, Taiwanese, from San Francisco. She had been in NYC for 3 years and worked in ad tech. I mentioned that I was on the fence between going home or grabbing drinks with some friends, and she flashed a glimmer of hope when she said the she might be entertain one more cocktail…only if it was close by.

11 St.: I tried to persuade Jen to come with me to Sweet Water Social, which wasn’t considered near to a girl who devoured BBQ and drank all day. I texted my friend Nick to alert him to change locations to the East Village; a selfish ploy on my end.

9 St.: I just passed by my cross street, which meant that the night was going to continue in some way. Jen and I chatted a bit more about our background, our reasons for moving the Big Apple, and reminisced about good weather and good Mexican food, a common activity when Californians converge. Like a boxer, I through in verbal jabs during the conversation, trying to convince her that Sweet Water Social wasn’t that far and even offering to pay for the 5-minute cab ride, but she wasn’t budging. Nick wasn’t responding.

7 St: We passed by the boisterous V-Bar, as intoxicated patrons obnoxiously convened outside. The windows to the venue were open and which allowed Sisqo’s “Thong Song” to be heard from outside. I made a sly comment about her “dumps”. She said that her friends used to substitute her last name for thong in the song: “Wonggggg…Wong…Wonggg…Wong…Wong”, she humorously exclaimed.

6th St: Feeling that she wasn’t going to venture outside the boundaries of the East Village, I offered her to buy her a drink a local bar before meeting up my friends. She hesitated, which meant a part of her was willing to, but ultimately responded that she lost her desire to drink and just wanted to pass the eff out. A small knock to my ego, but it was understandable from a female’s perspective. She literally just met me 20 minutes ago on the train. For all she knew, I could be creep serial killer. I know I’m not the most attractive guy around, but I’m sure I don’t convey creepy serial killer traits.

5th St: At this point, we moved out conversation to our professions. I told her I worked at Time Inc., with the sports titles like Sports Illustrated. “SHUTUP!” she replied with sense of excitement I don’t usually get when I tell people what I do. Jen had received a job offer earlier that year from Sports Illustrated, but she turned it down. I told her I was looking for a change. We just passed her cross street.

4th St: Was I able to wrangle her up in such engaging conversation that she changed her mind? This was a pretty unexpected and promising twist to the night.

3rd St: Right when we hit the intersection, Jen halted the conversation and questioned where she was going. “I guess I’m that interesting to talk to,” I said. Jen gave me a scoff. “Goodnight,” she said. “Buy you a drink?” I responded. She smirked, turned, and headed off towards home.

I never got to ask her about her tattoo.

The following two tabs change content below.

Rex Pham

Originally from the Bay Area, who then moved to Los Angeles, then out to New York City. NYU Stern MBA c/o 2014. Inspired by the grind of NYC to create something that has value. Lover of all things digital, culture, and brand strategy.

Latest posts by Rex Pham (see all)