“I can’t be a cocaine person; the culture that comes with cocaine is simply too preposterous. Until I moved to New York, I had never even seen coke, and I figured if I’d made it 30 years without cocaine, I probably shouldn’t go looking for it. But then I went to a birthday party at this place called the Slipper Room. The Slipper Room is a bar for people who want to be faux-decadent and mock-ironic at the same time; for example, the Slipper Room has topless dancers performing onstage, but it’s not supposed to be sexual. It’s funny, you see, because these dancers are gothic suicide girls who are caricaturing the misogynistic depravity of strip joints like Scores and Deja Vu. Of course, the girls in the Slipper Room are doing precisely what normal strippers do at Scores and Deja Vu, and men still tend to stare at the girl’s tits while swallowing over-priced cocktails. I’m not sure where the irony is, except that the women at the Slipper Room dance to the Cult instead of Faster Pussycat. But ANYWAY, I went to a birthday party there, and a guy wearing sunglasses (indoors at 10:00 P.M.) asked me if I wanted to do some blow, and I said, “Of course.” Because I can never say no to drugs, even if I don’t know what they’ll do to me. So now I’m following this dude around the bar, trying to seem natural, trying to pretend like I understand how you’re supposed to snort cocaine in public. We go down to the basement, but all the bathrooms are occupied. We go back upstairs, and - somehow - we find a bathroom backstage; this is apparently where the goth-girl strippers change clothes. We walk into the room, and the first thing I see are two very angry women, both of whom are naked from the waist down. The shorter one screeches, “Get the fuck out, you fucking faggots.” This strikes me as a bad sign. But then the guy in the sunglasses simply says, “I have coke,” and everything changes. Suddenly, these bottomless women are our closest friends. And it dawns on me that I’m about to do cocaine - for the first time in my life - with two half-naked strippers. I am David Lee Roth, touring with Sabbath in 1978. I am Brett Easton Ellis, two weeks after American Psycho was unsuccessfully crucified by The Washington Post. I am Bruce Wayne, making curious social decisions inside Gotham City’s hottest discotheque. But I’m also completely terrified, because I might also be Len Bias. “I’m going to die exactly like Len Bias,” I thought. “I’m gonna snort this shit, and my heart is going to explode. I will be the exception that proves the rule. My mom is going to get a phone call tomorrow morning and some cop is going to tell her I overdosed on cocaine in a public bathroom. She is going to go to Mass every morning for the next year, and she will cry every single time. Moreover, I’ll never play a minute of power forward for the Celtics. This is so wrong.”
I then dipped my apartment key into a tiny plastic bag, withdrew a nice little nipple of white powder, and sucked it through my right nostril. Seconds later, I had two wholly new thoughts: (a) This is actually no big deal, and (b) I feel perfect.
There’s no question in my mind that the dangers of cocaine have been wildly exaggerated by the antidrug lobby. Oh, I’m sure it’s not good for you, but you can certainly enjoy it recreationally, assuming you have disposable income and you hate yourself. Unlike pot or mushrooms or liquid Vicodin, it doesn’t shift reality; it just makes reality louder, brighter, and more interested in the availability of fashionable footwear. It makes you feel like you’re walking down the street - minding your own business - and the smartest, most attractive person you’ve ever met suddenly jumps out from behind a bush and gives you a compliment. This sensation lasts between 16 and 21 minutes, after which you become singularly obsessed with finding more cocaine. That desire forces you to enter “cocaine culture” (at least for one night). Cocaine culture contains the worst of everything: the worst conversations, the worst friendships, and the worst kind of unspeakable joy. But the instant you’ve received a powdery compliment from this imaginary stranger, entering cocaine culture becomes the goal of your entire evening. People who want cocaine will lie about anything; people will surrender integrity they never had to begin with. To get free cocaine women will have sex with men they normally wouldn’t dance with. Cocaine makes you popular, but also less likeable; cocaine makes you feel guilty in advance. When you snort cocaine, you consciously allow yourself to become foolish in the hope of seeming cool, and that’s the worst choice any smart person can make. This is why I am not a Cocaine Person, and this is why I will (probably) never become a Cocaine Person.
That said, I am currently snorting cocaine in a Ford pickup at 5:45 P.M. with a man I met 20 minutes ago. And I am doing this because - somehow - it seems reasonable.”