I’d been here before, 1:30 AM on a Friday night at a dive bar in a land of wasted white girls and thirsty white boys. The nights all start the same, a pregame at a friend’s apartment. If you’re lucky someone came through with some girls and if you’re blessed, you hit it off with one of them, all but securing a hook up for later that night. But more thcan likely, it was you, two bros from high school or recent college friends coming together to form a subpar sausage fest. Awkward lulling small talk cut with chugging cheap beer and cheaper flavored liquor as you all stare blankly at whatever meaningless division two football game ESPN was showing on a Friday as if even ESPN knew only a bunch of lame-asses would be watching TV on a Friday night. Some culmination of wanting to meet someone or blow off steam results in the youth’s obsession to go out. For myself, it was always about getting laid but rarely if ever did this happen outside of high school. More often than not this depressing sausage fest group dynamic carried its way to the bar leading to stale nights standing in silence staring at phones, bumping elbows and rapid drops in confidence levels. The girls come and go, drinks are poured, chugged and mixed but we stand stagnant in our tribe of awkwardness wondering what’s wrong with us? We’d watch the jocks and frat stars surf effortlessly through the girls like a spectator at a sports game, watching real men do work
What happens when one gets bored of being bored?
The sight of these lowly adventures? Buckhead. By day a sprawling show of wealth and sucess, high end strip mall parking lots filled with Bentlys and Rolls Royces, restaurants filled with frat stars turned brokers, rolexes, golf polos, and air pollution from luxury car exhusts mixed with all the smoke everyone blows up thier ass. By night, all of the white upper class youths from the surrounding well to do neighborhoods descend on a ever decreasing strip of dive bars. Daughters of coke and home depot executives black out drunk puke over bar room floors, street corners, and the backseat of some poor immigrant working nights as an uber driver. Bars so crowded that unless you have a vagina you’re waiting 30 minutes for a $12 vodka soda that’s basically just soda. On paper, it sounds like a young mans paradise seas of cute, young girls with lowered inhibitions, yet far too often, it was me and my sausage fest crew standing in silence while some overplayed pop trap music blared over the town. Occasionally one of us would make eye contact with the opposite sex and launch into an hour and a half stare without staring game of chicken before we summoned up the courage to get ceremoniously rebuffed with the coldest of cold shoulders: “I’m meeting my friends at another bar.” Over time this rejection and awkwardness lead us boys to certain boredom with Buckhead, suddenly the nights became about getting as fucked up as possible, confidence no longer came from getting numbers or laid, but from seeing how fucked up drunk we could get.
After about my third year in this misguided alcoholic warzone a magical white powder appeared, this magic friend of mine zoomed my sausage fest crew past the valleys of confidence we lacked and made us the most important thing in that fucking moment. To quote the late great Rick James “Cocaine’s a hell of a drug.” Crowded bars with long lines for drinks became short lines for the bathroom where four of us would huddle around a little white bag, a car key, and running the remnants on our fingers around our gumline. It became an unpronounced mainstay, every pregame and every round of drinks cut with bumps and lines. Fuck getting pussy, let’s get some blow. Fuck spending money on drinks, let’s get some blow. Fuck going out tonight, let’s get some blow. 4 white lines, three friends, two songs playing at the same time, and a $1 bill was our ticket. Conversations ranged from the most vulnerable parts of our psyches to completely meaningless small talk. One line we’d speak on childhood traumas that caused lifelong commitment issues and by the next line, we’d be obsessing with the Braves game. From the PGA tour for three hours to how my mom possibly loved me too much for a couple of hours, these conversations about life lead to feeling feelings that I can not access sober with people I’ve never seen or spoke to sober. Processing why we feel what we feel without feeling it, Just more blow. More blow. More blow. More blow. Oh fuck we’re out, do we get some more? It’s only 1:30, I know a guy. Fuck ya let’s do it. More blow. More blow. More blow. Fuck it’s already 5 AM? Good thing we’re almost out. More blow. Life was on pause and we were on fast forward.
This isn’t a statement against cocaine either, not that I endorse children go consume coke, but if they’re white, male, and grew up in the suburbs it’s more than likely they will indulge at some point. Cocaine will always be around, it’s not like people will suddenly be off of cocaine even when they should be, just check the most recent number of fentanyl-related cocaine deaths.
What does cocaine say about life? Not much. Cocaine is of the moment, which ironically perhaps says everything of life. What is it about cocaine that draws young men to it especially? What is it in that confidence boost that lures young men in? Over the years of my occasional blow down nights, I began to notice something, with blow that awkward small talk at the sausage fest suddenly became some of the most stimulating conversations of my life. The sausage fest topics stayed the same but now every word I uttered was pure genius, power, and succes incarnate flowing out of my electrified gum lines onto the mirror and razor blade in front of me. The conversation was the same but now I was different, I had super powers, the blow had took my trepidation and low self confidence by the balls and sky rocketed my ego to unmated levels of certainty. I was no longer some wandering loser disillusioned with how my nighs out and life in general played out, I was now Henry Hill in GoodFellas or Jordan Belfort in Wolf of Wall Street, I was the feelings of success and idol worship I saw glorified by our culture. Coke was my shortcut to ulitmate sastifcation, why go bust my ass and make something of my life when a couple lines and some electric guitar could transform me into the very things I idolized in movies.
While coke says nothing of real life, it speaks to everything that is modern-day America. An obsession with material, a facade of what life’s all about. You’re depressed? how you drive a range rover! You’re thinking about quitting your high stress, high paying job to do something you’re passionate about? You best think long and hard about quitting, yeah you’re miserable but you’re making great money! The traditional path, get good grades, goto a good college, get a good job, start a family and you’ll live a good life is just a cracked up pipe dream sold by our parents. The problem with this notion is not the family values or the rationale of making a good living, it’s the hallowed backside of it. What will doing any of the above solve? I was a rare breed amongst my typical sausage fest coke cirlce, all of these kids had degeres or were in school working on one, I had dropped out of college twice. I was misfit from jump, they were talking about frat parties and cheating on finals while I was already working a 9-5 sales job. I began to notice certain trends amongst this circle, mainly depression and unfulfillment. These were young men who had done everything right, they had gone to the best schools and came from well-off families yet they still felt their life lacked any direction, they felt it didn’t matter how hard they worked they still wound up lost at the end of the day. The dream they had bought had left questioning large chunks of their identity, who were they? What were they doing with their lives? The cocaine provided relief and answers in the form of commonradrie and substance-inspired connections. What’s the answer to all of this? Is there one?
While numerous self-help gurus would sell you on the notion of finding your why I do not think that would suffice here either. With this bunch of coke heads, a common trend took over; laziness. There was no drive or ambition to solve any of their issues. Their parents had came from nothing and built substantial lives for themselves and out of their lack created wealth and material success. Also out of their lack, created a spoiled and entitled generation of children who figure it better to ride their waves of life than set out to create their own.
Should kids en mass drop out of college and chase what they are passionate about? I would love nothing more than to emphatically tell you yes drop all and follow your wildest dream but for all my searching and maverick life tendencies, I still found myself doing blow with the same group of lost young men, sharing parts of my inner shadow about feeling lost and afraid in the face of life.
While I can’t answer some of the bigger questions of what to do with your life, I can tell you cocaine will only take you further away from any answer. The thing about cocaine and all drugs, is the truth comes out in the come down. After 8 hours of nonstop intimacy and bonding, the bag runs dry and everyone is left with a stuffy nose, no sleep and a day full of obligations. The heights of cocaine enflame the aspects of self that seek answers and validation, the comedown reveals the true distance from any real hope.