Order Two Beers At The Same Time, Whether Or Not Ta-Nehisi Coates Ever Did

Illustration for article titled Order Two Beers At The Same Time, Whether Or Not Ta-Nehisi Coates Ever Did
Photo: Petr David Josek (AP)

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.

Illustration for article titled Order Two Beers At The Same Time, Whether Or Not Ta-Nehisi Coates Ever Did

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.

New Orleans-based writer and editor