For the last few years, friends, people from my past and complete strangers alike have been buying me beers through my website, www.BuySamABeer.com. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. People buy me, Sam, a beer. Beers to be enjoyed at my leisure, for both the good times and the bad. Some have included words of encouragement with their donation; others have written me little poems.
Olivia in California, for example, wrote me this limerick:
I have not seen Sam in so long,
The thought of which sings a sad song.
But would it be weird
to buy Sam a beer?
If it’s right, I don’t want to be wrong.
The website was initially just a casual endeavor, a fun experiment that only a few friends and charitable nihilists ever really contributed to—until quarantine. Being stuck indoors due to a global pandemic is far from ideal. In fact, it sucks. This is not a very hot take. Heaped on top of this government-mandated house arrest is an irksome mix of fear, anxiety and inadequacy as we watch others more motivated than ourselves using their quarantine time to bake, learn to code, write screenplays, make TikToks and ride their Pelotons into the sunset. Each home-baked loaf of sourdough feels like an affront to my inabilities. And yet, I have a front-row seat to all of it because my weekly screen time is up 400 percent from last week, which was up 400 percent from the week before.
As all our professional and social interactions turned virtual, BuySamABeer.com started to make sense again. I managed to carve out some time around my interminable dish washing regimen and time spent not baking, to make it easier for anyone and everyone who might be interested in buying me a beer, to buy me a beer. What started as a simple, thirsty attempt to get a free drink suddenly became an insightful reminder of our need for frivolity even—or perhaps especially—during these times.
On the site, which has been deemed essential and is therefore unaffected by COVID-19, there are two choices: you can buy me a light beer (store-bought, home-enjoyed) for $3 for what I consider a “good time,” or, if you’re feeling extravagant, a fancier beer from a craft establishment for $7 for what I consider a “great time.” One hundred percent of your donation goes to buying me a beer and I offer proof of enjoyment, from photo evidence to beer reviews. I’ve reviewed Miller Lite dozens of times and I’ll happily review it a hundred times more. How crisp is it? I’ll tell you. And at the bottom of the site you can play Roger Miller’s, “King of the Road,” a good song about a guy just getting by. You can decipher the metaphors, I’ll drink the beer.
My favorite part about having strangers buy me beer over the internet is not so much enjoying the free beer itself, but trying to image the life of the person who bought it for me. Are they actually just charitable? Only someone who knits sweaters for three-legged dogs would have the heart to buy me this delightfully effervescent passion fruit Berliner weisse. That non-alcoholic St. Pauli Girl (I didn’t know it was non-alcoholic when I bought it), on the other hand, almost certainly came from someone who’s also hit rock bottom. Of these two people, who would I have more fun with at a concert? This little imaginative fan fiction helps keep me connected to the world that I’m now required to stay 6 feet away from.
As for the “how-to” of it all, BuySamABeer was not an idea born of any marketing genius. I am not on any 30-under-30 lists, I have no insights on how to go viral, nor can I offer any self-help tips on how to get what you want other than to ask for it. So here’s my advice: Find what you need to cope and then solicit it boldly on the internet—whatever helps break up the monotony of these days in isolation—because you can still chase your dreams, even from the confines of your couch. Just go grab a domain, maybe…
I don’t own this URL format; I lay no claim to any success you may have with your website. But if it works for you, if it goes gangbusters and you find yourself swimming in Alfredo sauce or whatever other form your dreams take, I hope you’ll consider buying Sam a beer.