Last week, our colleagues at The A.V. Club posted a fun blog query: What are the things you’ve only done because you saw them in pop culture? The cool writers there listed cool things like smoking, revving a Mustang, and clearing a desk in anger. I immediately knew my answer: ordering two beers at the same time like Ta-Nehisi Coates does in Between The World And Me. At least, that’s what I’ve spent the last three years believing he does.
When I first endorsed ordering two beers at a time, my coworkers’ reactions were lukewarm, like that second beer, but mostly on my side. I don’t do this regularly or even often; the time to do this is when you’re in a place with unknown or clearly bad service. (I’ve also done it when there’s a very long line at the bar and I’ll be seated far from the bar.) But the tide swiftly turned in our work chat when I was asked to produce the excerpt from the book. Here it is, on page 124 of my copy.
What followed can only be described as cyberbullying, as I insisted that the phrasing clearly meant that Coates ordered both beers at once while every other Deadspinner said that was obviously not the case. Here’s a sampling of my coworkers’ reactions on Friday afternoon:
Barry Petchesky [3:31 PM] ...that doesn’t say he ordered them at the same time, Dennis
Tom Ley [3:31 PM] dennis i think
you have misread that
it just says he had two beers over an undetermined period of time
nick martin [3:31 PM] dennis changed his whole shit for this
Tom Ley [3:32 PM] dennis the key here is the past tense
David Roth [3:33 PM] “I ordered two beers, to be served consecutively.”
Tom Ley [3:33 PM] “i sit down and i order two beers” is not the same as “i ordered two beers”
nick martin [3:33 PM] dennis in 5 mins: I find Tom Ley’s take-downs of my beer-ordering habits like this hilarious and well-pointed. There’s just so many of them now. He always finds a way to be dependent on my misreadings haha
giri nathan [3:33 PM] i’ll take Beer.....also [winking] Second Beer
Lauren Theisen [3:33 PM] yeah the key is “and then”
“I ordered a beer, then a beer, and then a burger”
David Roth [3:33 PM] Dennis orders two beers, decants them into a pitcher he smuggled into the spot inside his bag, and then sips from the pitcher.
Lauren Theisen [3:33 PM] take this to kinja
Barry Petchesky [3:33 PM] I know when I have a wild night, the next morning I definitely tell my friends “I drank a beer and then a beer and then a beer and then a beer and then a beer”
Laura Wagner [3:33 PM] but also “im having two beers and the burger”
stil doesnt mean at the same time
giri nathan [3:34 PM] How Did Ta-Nehisi Coates Order His Two Beers?
David Roth [3:34 PM] im haveing two beers
Tom Ley [3:34 PM] that would be the worst post ever because it’s obvious to everyone except for Dennis
Lauren Theisen [3:34 PM] Does This Misread Of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Beer Strategy Actually Work?
David Roth [3:35 PM] In order to get the best experience you need to alternate sips from the two beers.
Barry Petchesky [3:35 PM] Ta-Nehisi, Let Me Tell You What You Should Have Meant
David Roth [3:35 PM] That way neither of them gets too warm.
Dennis Young [3:35 PM] Does Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Beer Drinking Strategy Thrive Despite My Idiot Coworkers’ Rejection Of It?
nick martin [3:35 PM] Should I Have Just Gotten The Tecate And Tequila? A Very Short Debate
Tom Ley [3:35 PM] the best part is that we all just believed dennis until he owned himself by showing the excerpt
Tom Ley [3:36 PM] the anecdote was the football and dennis was leon lett chasing it into the endzone
hannah keyser [3:37 PM] Drink Beer Like Dennis Thinks Ta-Nehisi Coates Drinks Beer, Not Like Ta-Nehisi Coates Drinks Beer
David Roth [3:37 PM] His buddies used to call him Two-Nahesi because he always drank two beers
Alex Pareene [3:38 PM] its the weekend baby. youknow what that means. its time to drink precisely two beers and one burger and call 911
David Roth [3:38 PM] time to drink precisely two beers—and I will explain how this works in a moment—and call 911
Tom Ley [3:39 PM] i keep re-reading the sentence
it’s just impossible to me
that dennis came to this conclusion
two beers and a burger at the same time? to me, that is preposterous
Lauren Theisen [3:42 PM] “the two beers are a metaphor for colonialism”
Tom Ley [3:42 PM] lol
the two beers represent the two lives Coates had been living up to that point
Jon Eiseman [3:43 PM] We Were Two Beers In Power
Dennis Young [3:43 PM] goddamnit ive been making this a dumbass talking point for years
Dennis Young [3:43 PM] im gonna get owned if im wrong
Barry Petchesky [3:43 PM] Dennis if you’re wrong, it becomes your thing!
that’s even better
Tom Ley [3:44 PM] yeah
now it’s dennis’s trick
Dennis Young [3:44 PM] my thing that i adapted on a misreading!
Tom Ley [3:44 PM] just dont include that
in the story
about your thing
spider-man doesn’t tell the bad guys he became spider-man by pure accient
David Roth [3:47 PM] “Let me get a beer. Okay now let me get another one. I’d like to pay separately if that’s all right.”
At one point, this cursed image of a hot dog in a soupy mac and cheese appeared; it was swiftly recaptioned as “I ordered mac and cheese and a hot dog.” Fuck.
I had to go to the source on this. I emailed Coates asking him if he ordered the beers together or separately. He responded an hour later, saying that “I ordered one—and when I finished ordered another. ‘Une autre,’ as they say.”
I’m going to keep doing this, despite the haters and Ta-Nehisi Coates.