ly 27, 2009
A Beer with Obama
Sergeant Crowley suggested that he and Professor Gates come to the White House to share a beer with the president. Mr. Obama then conveyed that idea in his phone call with Professor Gates.
The Oval Office. Late. President Obama sits across from Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Officer James Crowley, who share a couch. They sit amidst several empty beer bottles. No one’s wearing shoes.
CROWLEY: Can I say something? And I mean this. Ya know what’s awesome is pizza.
GATES: Pizza is awesome. Why is it so awesome?
OBAMA: We could go get pizza right now. I have a plane.
GATES: That’s awesome.
OBAMA: I could pick up the phone right now, get the plane, we could go to Italy for pizza.
CROWLEY: You’re amazing. And really good-looking.
GATES: You are good looking. You’re a very good-looking man.
OBAMA: I like giving speeches. I like press conferences.
CROWLEY: You give a lot of press conferences. Maybe, like, too many?
GATES: I think he’s right. Maybe don’t give so many.
OBAMA: But you should see the speeches I have lined up. They’re all so…emotional. I’ve got a new one on infrastructure that quotes Rosa Parks for no reason. But it makes you cry.
GATES: My ex-wife is white.
OBAMA: My mother was white.
CROWLEY: There are times I wish I was Jewish.
GATES: I know exactly what you mean.
CROWLEY: It just dawned on me. I’m the minority in this room.
GATES: (laughing, leaning over to hug Crowley) You’re insane…
Crowley laughs and loses his balance, falling with Gates off the couch onto the floor. They’re still laughing as Secret Service officers enter the room through three different doors. The President waves them off. With some trouble the three men get to their feet and back onto the couch.
OBAMA: We should get more beer.
CROWLEY: We should definitely get beer.
GATES: I really like beer. Are we going to Italy?
OBAMA: So hey. Hey. Seriously. What happened?
CROWLEY: What? You mean with the thing?
CROWLEY: Oh. I thought he was a burglar because he was black.
GATES: And I was a jackass because I assumed he was a racist Irish cop.
CROWLEY: He was so angry. He said mean things about my mother. I thought he was a racist.
GATES: And I thought he was a racist. So I said mean things about his mother. Then he arrested me because I annoyed him.
CROWLEY: I arrested him because he annoyed me, which was stupid. But it didn’t help that you called me stupid.
OBAMA: That was stupid of me.
CROWLEY: Turns out we both love ballroom dancing and bridge.
GATES: We should play bridge now. We need a fourth.
CROWLEY: No. What we should do is watch “Tommy Boy.”
GATES: Did you just say “boy?”
GATES: If Chris Farley had been black do you think he still would have been overweight?
CROWLEY: No. I think he would have been thin but not funny.
OBAMA: I think he would have been funny, thin, and Swiss.
GATES: The Swiss aren’t funny.
CROWLEY: That’s so true. Why is that?
GATES: Have you ever been stopped by the police just because of your color?
CROWLEY: I was on Cape Cod one summer and really really tanned, and I was stopped by the police. They thought I was Brazilian but we ended up just laughing about it and I remember thanking my lucky stars I wasn’t Brazilian or black.
OBAMA: That’s tragic.
GATES: This is what I’m talking about.
CROWLEY: I guess I’m lucky I’m white. Except, you’re both rich and famous.
GATES: You think we’d be famous rich guys in Switzerland? The Swiss are afraid of black people.
CROWLEY: Some people are afraid of cops.
GATES: Are people afraid of black cops?
CROWLEY: No. They love them. There are times when I wish I was black.
OBAMA: Ya know what was a good show was “The West Wing.”
CROWLEY: That show was so good.
GATES: I own it. On DVD. I own it. We could go to my house and watch it.
CROWLEY: We could break into your house and watch it!
Crowley and Gates laugh and fall onto the floor again. The door opens and a waiter brings in a tray of beer. Obama slumps into his chair, legs out. Gates and Crowley lie next to each other on the floor, staring at the ceiling. All are quiet for a time.
CROWLEY: (crying) Ya know what I think is just wrong?
CROWLEY: That this is called the White House.
GATES: (to Obama): This is a good man. This is a lovely man.
CROWLEY: I mean…why? Why do we have to judge and hate based on race? Why can’t we love?
GATES: We should get tattoos.
They struggle to sit up, lean against the couch.
CROWLEY: I’m sorry I arrested you because you were obnoxious. There’s no law that says that a Harvard professor can’t be obnoxious in his own home.
GATES: And I’m sorry I called your mother a Bangkok whore. I have no idea where your mother is from. I was exhausted from the flight from China and was annoyed that you were a white man.
OBAMA: What have we learned?
GATES: That we like beer.
OBAMA: What else?
GATES: If you’re going to break into your own house go in through the back door?
CROWLEY: If you’re going to arrest someone on false charges plant something on them to make the charges stick?
OBAMA: Good. We’ve made progress here today.
GATES: Well, I think we all know—all of us here—that people are the same wherever you go.
CROWLEY: There is good and bad in everyone.
GATES: We learn to live …
GATES: …we learn to give each other …
CROWLEY: …what we need to survive together alive.
OBAMA: Favreau needs to hear this. This is good stuff.
Gates and Crowley stand and move to the center of the room.
GATES: (to Obama) Watch this.
They begin ballroom dancing.
More beer arrives.
Posted by John Kenney
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