On the east coast (where I am from), we call the Californian game of “Beer Pong” Beirut. Why the difference?
Growing up in Connecticut, I am an east coaster at heart. This is reflected in my clothing choices, weather preference, and yes, drinking games. I hypothesize that many of teenagers’ first drinking experiences transpire in the basements of their parent’s houses. This is due to their noise cancellation properties and distance from peeping adult eyes. In many basements are ping-pong tables, and with only a few plastic cups, a ping-pong table is easily converted into a drinking game for the ages.
There is some disagreement as to what the appropriate name for this fine game should be. Until I came to California I had only heard the name “Beirut” mentioned. But to my misfortune, I was not prepared for the California title. When I enthusiastically asked three people to play some “Beirut”, my request was met with vacant stares. It was as if I had asked them to go play dinkerydoos in Bangladesh. Naturally, I was confused as to why they were looking at me as if I had just asked them to go play dinkerydoos in Bangladesh. I clarified “you know the game, where you try to toss ping pong balls into cups of beer?”
They responded with “Ummm, you mean, beer pong?”
What I had then discovered was that there are in fact TWO names for literally the EXACT SAME drinking game. Although at the time I did not know it, I was experiencing a classic example of folkloric permutations.
It is important to mention that when I returned to Connecticut at the end of the semester, I played an active role in communicating the differences in this game’s title. Therefore, in a very small way, I became a catalyst and conveyer of folklore.