Between the Lines by Hugh Stone

THE FIRST TWO LINES are always the best. I wish someone had told me that up front, though I doubt it would have stopped me. The anticipation that comes from seeking a connection, picking up, and making your way home with a little bag of white gold in your pocket is exhilarating. The nervous energy that accompanies laying out a bit of white powder and making two nice even lines is a high of its own. Cutting up a plastic straw, or tying a rubber band around a dollar bill to ensure you have a nice tight delivery system to the nose, is the last step. There is a wind-up of excitement as you cover one nostril and breathe in half a line with the other. You sniff and tilt your head back, and you’re off to the races in a binge that will bring you to heaven, hell, and back. Taking in the rest of the line with the other nostril elevates you to that elusive high you have been waiting for. At once, you are both highly energized and relaxed into relief. All of your troubles melt away, and at once you feel as though you are capable of anything. Diving right into the second line, the wave of euphoria is so extraordinary that your fate is sealed: You will continue to repeat this cycle until there is nothing left.

George Carlin wisely quipped, “What does cocaine make you feel like? It makes you feel like doing more cocaine!” The hours that follow those first two lines are an exercise in wasted potential. Although you may feel like being creative or productive, you are reduced to a slave of the drug. No music is just right for the occasion, no reading material interesting enough, and any creative venture you may undertake will always be second to the maintenance of your desire for more cocaine. Those first two lines might make you happy for an hour, but as the high starts to wane, it becomes necessary to take in more and more of the drug in shorter intervals of time. This has gotten me into trouble numerous times. A few hours into a coke binge, my heart is racing and my hands are a bit shaky as I cut up fresh lines. Many times have I reached this downward spiral in the interest of regaining or maintaining my buzz. This has often involved the fear that I may have overdosed, and could die. I pace around just hoping that this feeling of imminent death will pass. As soon as it does, I’m ready to take just another bump to keep myself at an even keel. Basically, I learn nothing from that feeling that I could die any minute. Clogged and bleeding nostrils haven’t stopped me, either. There have been occasions when I have waited for one nostril to stop bleeding and clot, while using the other nostril instead, hoping that it won’t fail on me. I repeat this cycle until there is nothing left but dust clinging to the side of a small plastic bag, not enough to be of any use to me.

If all of this sounds like mad behavior, it is. It is a testament to the power of the pleasure that coke provides. Compared to other drugs, cocaine is pure pleasure. Other drugs offer pleasure, sure, but that pleasure is usually accompanied by something useful. Cannabis, LSD, and psilocybin mushrooms all have the potential to provide a new and enlightened outlook, a new kind of perception. Opioids provide protection from psychological and physical pain, and imbue the user with a sort of woolen protection from the world. The pleasurable feeling they provide enhances empathy, and much of the pleasure derived from opioids is from the apathy they induce. It’s a sort of addition by subtraction. Amphetamines are more economical than cocaine. The effect lasts longer, and is more apt to induce productivity. “Downers” like benzodiazepines don’t produce much of a high at all; they merely reduce anxiety and induce somnolence. Alcohol is perhaps the only substance that can compete with cocaine for its ability to reduce inhibition and its cunningness to will the user into overindulgence. Still, alcohol is no match for the sheer hedonistic pleasure that cocaine provides.

Things cocaine is good for:

  • Exuding self-confidence
  • Making boring people more interesting
  • Draining your pocketbook
  • Inducing nosebleeds
  • Making word-associations that are amusing to you alone
  • Amping up your sex drive so that you will have sex with just about anyone
  • Consuming large amounts of alcohol without ever feeling drunk
  • Chain-smoking and teeth-grinding
  • Inevitably plunging into a state of crippling depression and despair

Things cocaine is not good for:

  • Attending the Symphony (or any event that requires you sit still for an hour)
  • Enjoying Christmas with family
  • Sharing with others
  • Maintaining an erection so you can have sex with just about anyone
  • Focusing on one productive task at a time
  • Maintaining your finances

Once you have been seduced by cocaine, she will haunt you periodically. Involuntary memory has been known to trigger a desire for blow. Certain cleaning products have a smell similar to cocaine (or whatever coke is cut with) and every time I get a whiff of them, I immediately crave cocaine. Even remembering past dances with the devil will get me fired up enough to wish I had a gram stowed away somewhere. Luckily, my finances and connections don’t make it easy for me to acquire the drug. For as much as I have learned about the drug and its power over me, I still desire it. Even as I write this, the memory of that feeling of pure pleasure floods my mind with desire.

The last great coke binge I had was at a party in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. The circumstances were a cliché in every sense of the word. No one seemed to know who was hosting the party, and it didn’t seem to matter. Guests were swimming nude in the pool and hot tub. The house was covered in black shag carpeting, with all white leather furniture. A full bar of top-shelf liquor was stacked above a black marble countertop. When I entered, I was asked if I’d like some single malt scotch, which I took gladly. Then, the stranger said, “And would you like some cocaine?” I couldn’t say no. He led me behind the bar, and on the black marble was a dog dish filled with cocaine, along with some scattered on the countertop to cut up lines. I stayed for several hours, taking in as much free coke and scotch as I could. The party was populated with some of the most thoroughly uninteresting people I could imagine. Young girls came and went. Every conversation was disingenuous on my part, but I had to keep talking or I feared my mind would explode. By 5 a.m., it was obvious to me and other guests at the party that I had had enough. I was trying to snort back big thick lines of complimentary coke, and my nose just wasn’t having it. I had a car pick me up to drive back to my hotel, and I talked the Armenian driver’s ear off the whole time. I had him drop me at a gas station next to my hotel so I could buy a pack of cigarettes and chain-smoke in front of my hotel until the sun came up.

For all that was wonderful about that night, the same fact holds true: The first two lines were the best. Everything that followed was mad indulgence. The sad fact of the matter is that I would do it again in a heartbeat. Few things can compete with pure hedonistic pleasure. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go and try my damnedest to think of anything but cocaine.


Find more manic rambles in SN8:Nightmoon – available on Amazon!