Saturday, July 26, 2008

Chutes and Ladders

By Lauren Wood

Why do you do drugs?

Prestige, class, elitism? The ornate dens of yore? The Romance?

No! For these, you duel (with swords, of course). Drug use is no way to relax, or to revel in your superiority. Drugs kill, or turn you into a very mean old hag, as you may have learned from our helpful disclaimers, and any number of A&E series will show you to what extreme extent illegal drugs ruin lives, families, bank accounts, complexions, cuticles. So why take that risk? Why ruin lives? Why do you do drugs?

Danger! That's why! When we take our first hit of whatever substance strikes our fancy we are immediately entering a strange and intriguing new world of sin and peril. Habitual drug use introduces us to shady casts of characters, precariously ramshackle locations in strange and exotic lands ruled by shadier casts of characters. Now is not the time for professions of distinction. You live a life too full of risk for such silliness. You are a rebel. And you snort coke.

Cocaine is gritty (often literally). It is stark-white, flashy, and difficult to handle. Those who abuse cocaine often start in glittering dance clubs, and end as dingy heaps in dark alleys. Sometimes, they start in the alleys, and end up among the glittering beautiful people. All because of blow. It is versatile in that it is cool, hip, and prestigious (like Heroin), as well as edgy, terrible, and pedestrian. There is a reason cocaine is so popular in America.

That reason is social mobility. Cocaine is the American Dream, and the American Nightmare. It is feared, almost as much as it is coveted. One clean line of wintery powder can be either a chute or a ladder, and there is no way of knowing which. Do you want to know? Where's the fun in that?

The White-Gold Age of Cocaine was truly the late 70s, with the rise of Disco and Studio 54. The wild, beautiful denizens of that place and time did not want to sedate themselves with opiates. Disco, as they were so quick to assert, is life! and so their drug of choice must make a similar assertion. The risk of cocaine, its physical mutability, and its typical method of intake (what could say "I am alive" more than inhaling white powder through a raw and sensitive nose?) only magnify its ability to shake up your life and take you for a wild ride.

And though Studio 54, and the glamor of Disco have long since faded into history, the need to feel alive has not. And so we do not take hard drugs to die in style...we take hard drugs to live! We do not concern ourselves with fashion, or poetry, or gilded triangles when we abuse substances. We want only that wide-eyed sensation of vitality and possibility, that can only be found in the face of danger.

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