Like most transgressive behavior — smoking, drinking, sex, drugs — that is culturally frowned upon one moment and wildly glorified the next, my first experience with cocaine was distorted, preempted and in a way nullified by the hype and advertisement accompanying it. It was nothing like what I expected. I actually didn’t know what I expected but the dull, numbing sensation I had in my head was nothing like what I associated with images of cocaine use in movies such as Scarface or Wall Street, or in TV shows like Miami Vice, or in the massive news coverage devoted to the Central and South American drug cartels targeted in America’s War on Drugs. This was what all the fuss was about? Thiswas what America was up in arms over? It made no sense.
Later that evening Ted and I walked to a nearby dorm to visit a friend of his, a small Eastern European girl who showed us her collection of wooden hand puppets and who herself looked some what like a small wooden hand puppet, her face a smooth, pale, creaseless orb. We sat in her tiny darkwooded room in a beautiful, centuriesold manor for half an hour engaged in polite, barren conversation. I was dying to get out of there and, after waiting far too long to make my exit, I finally excused myself and headed back to my room. Hardly a sexy evening. I got a sinus infection the next day to boot, a souvenir of my virginal experience.
I didn’t do cocaine again for a while. I wasn’t tempted. Sex and food were my vices of choice, if you can even call sex and food vices. But a few years later, postcollege, while I was living with several band members in a two-story apartment building in Williamsburg, it seemed that cocaine was everywhere. There was even a nearby bar named (obviously) Cokies just off Metropolitan Avenue where, late at night, you could enter a small curtained space no larger than a department store changing room at the rear
of the bar and, huddled next to three or four sweaty partygoers,purchase and snort tiny bags of very poor quality cocaine.
I did just that several times during the summer of 2000 and,once I got past the self-revulsion I felt (or felt like I needed to feel)for spending time at such a blatantly seedy establishment, I actually grew to like the place. It’s still the only bar I’ve ever been to in New York that had such a culturally, economically, and age diversified clientele. Fifty-year-old black men danced with young Latina girls while white businessmen cavorted over the bar with the occasional post-college hipster and random middle-aged woman sprinkled in for good effect.
Like any ubiquitous, massively successful product, cocaine appeals to a demographic that is practically the human race itself — young, old, rich, poor, black, Asian, Arab, Jew. Come one, come all. All you need is a nose. Cokies was a great bar because its demographic reflected this — it was, in a way, the iPod of bars, its clientele set to shuffle. I didn’t realize at the time, however, how crappy the cocaine was. I didn’t know any better. I’d never had good stuff.
That changed a few months later when I met three friends at a huge late-night party in a Soho loft that was said to be a very recently converted whorehouse. Each bedroom was decorated in the theme of a different prostitute—frillies and lace in one room, whips and chains in the next. There were hundreds of people lining the hallways, bouncing on the dance floor, hanging out of windows. It seemed like a young fashion / art / Hollywood scene. There were a lot of impossibly beautiful girls of unknown Eastern European / Russian descent, skinny boys with asymmetrical hair cuts and loads of designer clothes. It was summertime and my friends and I had been going to a lot of parties and none of us felt like we needed to stay particularly long at this one. Our ringleader, Gaby, who invited us to the party in the first place, bought some cocaine and invited us back to her godmother’s Soho loft. Her godmother, a famous contemporary artist, lived in a massive, luxurious space, larger than twenty average Manhattan apartments put together.
None of us were particularly rambunctious that night and when we got back to Gaby’s godmother’s loft we sat around on the couch watching cable TV, content with rock videos and sitcom reruns. None of us touched the considerable little white mountain on the coffee table and it seemed as if we were all seconds from calling it quits and having a good night’s sleep but instead, for some reason, my inner-cheerleader made a rare appearance. I said, “Come on. Let’s do this.”
I grabbed the bag and divided it up into four moreorless equal piles, giving myself, of course, a slightly more-than=equal pile. I was starting to feel somewhat experienced doing cocaine from my various visits to Cokies and I felt my user status had been upgraded from novice to intermediate — an asinine conclusion in hindsight. After a quick glance around the coffee table in which we all exchanged trepidatious-yet=excited glances — glances that said both hello and goodbye, yes and no —I leaned over and immediately vacuumed the considerable white slug from the plastic CD case before me.
I was instantly high and sat back deep into the couch not so much out of choice but because I had to. I was no longer sitting in a room with three of my friends but was, rather, thirty thousand feet up in the cloud-dappled blue heavens. It felt like I’d just stepped from the hull of an aircraft. I thought of the Tom Petty song “Into the Great Wide Open.” My entire body chimed with a hypersensitive wavelike tingle. Then, without warning, I began to fall hard and fast. I moved from couch to floor feeling as if I weighed a thousand tons, falling rapidly, faster and faster, towards the earth. I closed my eyes and told myself that it was just the drug working its effect on my brain and that it would soon be over. After some time my frighteningly meteoric descent began to slow and the full-body tingle that lapped in waves began to cease. I took a series of deep breaths, grateful that the high was coming to an end.
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13. ‘Wilmer Valderrama Presents Yo Momma: The Movie’
4. When I mentioned my idea of applying for a competitive writing fellowship in addition to graduate programs, and you told me I shouldn’t.
Women want to see you in social situations, outdoors doing manly activities, on a boat holding a fish, ANYTHING that indicates you’ve got a life.
Satanic compulsions, you say? If that’s what you call loving someone, what do you call killing?