Disappointment with the Color Brown



187 Grand St. Williamsburg, 11211

Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Williamsburg

At the tender age of seventeen, I discovered that tigers were not in fact yellow and brown, but are rather orange and black. It never did much harm, my color deficiency, nor did it prevent me from getting my own way. It certainly never interfered with my love life. However, by no fault of my own, one opportune incident was ruined. The occasion was an intimate encounter and the detriment was the color deficiency.

On a cold, windy night in mid-January (a few years after my discovery about tigers) I left work and started the commute from Manhattan to Williamsburg. I wanted to drink myself into a stupor, with the intention of forgetting the past week. Whether alone or with company– an escape to Brooklyn was necessary. I weaved in and out skillfully through the herd of New Yorkers leaving work with the hope of a fulfilling weekend. I stood on the platform at 86th and Lexington and thought of going to ‘Snacky,’ a little Chinese joint on Grand St. between Driggs and Bedford, where a single guy with small pockets can get a beer, a shot of sake and a plate of sesame noodles for seven dollars. For many people it can be a tough decision to drink alone, however I found it rather simple.

Two trains passed, both filled to the corners with people. I stood close to the edge in order to get onto the third train, a 4 express. I reached the Union Square stop, after the short, claustrophobic ride, in order to transfer for the L to Bedford Avenue. The doors opened and the flood was released. People scattered like roaches over the platform towards the staircase. Again, I slipped in and out of the crowd, bent on getting onto the L before it left the station. I was successful and hopped into the one car with the only door open. So did everybody else. The thought of switching to the next car to avoid the overabundance of bodies never occurred to me. I leaned against the door, made a mental note of all the pretty girls and enjoyed the ride towards tranquility.

After a few stops I reached Bedford Ave and exited the station. I slipped my hands into the pockets of my coat and aligned my arms against the side in order to avoid the cold wind filtering up my sleeves. I reached ‘Snacky,’ walked in and sat at the bar without forgetting to signal over Asako, the waitress. After a quick food service exchange, Asako put in my order and the night began.

An hour later, I swallowed the last gulp of beer and rolled back the last shot of sake that I’d drink by myself for the evening. A woman walked over and sat two stools over to the right. We exchanged a glance and a half-smile. I jerked my head back quickly to invite her to the stool next to me. I felt I had met her before.

“Hi, name is Kate,” she said.

“Joe,” I shook her hand and both of us held the position for too long.

“Did you just ride the L over here, about an hour ago?”

Now I remembered — I had seen her on the train ride over! She was wearing a scarf that had pills and it may have been orange, but I couldn’t be sure. “Yes, I knew you looked familiar,” I said. I sat up straight and I accepted, into the night, her company.

“I’m surprised, you really didn’t notice me much,” she said.

“You want another drink?” I asked to hastily change the subject.

She shook her head in a vertical motion, “whatever you’re having,” she said.

I pointed to the sky, signaled over Asako and ordered two more specials.

“So, Kate what brings you here?” I asked, partly interested.

“A few friends sitting over at that table,” she said and pointed to the group.

“Oh, are they going to miss you?”

“Why do you ask? You thinking about keeping me to yourself?” and she smirked.

“So what’s your story, Kate?”

“School and work, yourself?”

“The same.”

The mundane conversation continued until our sixth round of drinks. That is where time stopped being relevant and we knew the night wouldn’t end without a few cheap thrills. “…So I said to the asshole, why else would I tell you that?” I slurred. Kate laughed with a hideous snort, fortunately for her I did the same. After the laughter teetered out we smiled at each other, her hand was on my leg and I didn’t mind.

“How about another round and we’ll get moving,” she suggested.

I signaled Asako over, again and she let out a sigh and rolled her eyes but I didn’t care at the time.

“She doesn’t like you, Joe.”

“Yes, I know, it’s probably because last week while hitting on her I spilled a bottle of beer,” I admitted.

“You jerk,” she said between a giggle and a breath.

It had to be about six hours since I entered the bar. We finished off the last of our drinks and I paid the bill. I wasn’t expecting to pay for two, so the tip was a little short. I looked at Kate and stared her down.

“You ready?”

“I sure am,” she answered.

We stumbled out and forgot to close the door. Somehow we made our way to the L train. We rode the train to Union Square and exchanged a few false grins of affection. She lived on 11th street between 2nd and 3rd avenue and in my mind, among other things I’d get to see her apartment.

From the park to the stoop of her building we walked over and talked about nothing of relevance. She mentioned getting something to eat, but decided against it. I had one thought and it didn’t involve food. We stood at the door of the apartment building and began to kiss with a sloppy exchange of saliva.

She pulled her head back, “You have any plans tonight?” she said with a hint of suggestiveness.

“It depends,” I said, “You free?”

We locked our dry lips together and made them wet again with spit. My chin was numb and the saliva on our faces froze from the cold; however, my hands were warm tucked under her shirt. We had disengaged and she looked at me with intent.

“All right, Joe,” she said, “You can come up and we can have a good time, but you have to answer one question.”

“Sure,” I said with confidence.

“Close your eyes,” she demanded.

I closed them tightly and tried to keep my balance. “What’s the question?”

“My eyes, what color are they?” she asked.

My brain froze and my stomach gurgled. She doesn’t know about my color problem I told myself. However, I remembered a piece of advice my friend, Ali told me. He told me that if a girl ever asks you what color her eyes are just say hazel and that most chicks will accept it because they think it’s a pretty color or some shit.

“Hazel,” I said with more confidence.

“Brown, they’re brown,” she stated flatly.

I opened my eyes and said with a slur, “Here’s the thing, I have a color deficiency.” After I heard it out loud it sounded like a lie.

“I’m sure you do, Joe,” she said with doubt and turned to the door.

“Wait, come on. I’m serious, I can’t see colors correctly.”


“Oh, come on!”

“Go home,” she suggested.

There I was left in the cold, the mouth juice frozen to my face. My head was in a whirlwind and my hands were numb. Back to the 4 train, I thought. That’s the green line, right?


Joseph Benincase lives in Manhattan and attends classes at the City University of New York. He has an obsession with food and enjoys writing short stories. As far as he knows, his favorite color is blue.

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