Santa Clara's underground coke scene
Cocaine use largely secretive at Santa Clara, where student dealers profit off expensive drug habits
Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 15:01
"Hey, let's go in the hot tub before it closes," Lindsay says to Courtney as she finishes inhaling.
"Oh yeah," Courtney responds, getting up to check the message on her phone -- it's a text from her mom.
"Hey mom, my boyfriend you don't know about is here, and I just did a line of coke off the table," Courtney jokes.
Only minutes later, Lindsay's phone rings. "Ha, it's my mother, how ironic is that?" Lindsay says aloud, before answering the phone. "Hi Mom," she says calmly, walking down the hallway.
When Courtney arrived at Santa Clara, she was "an angel" by Lindsay's standards. She had never tried drugs or alcohol before settling into the dorms her freshman year. But after entering Santa Clara, Courtney started drinking, like most freshmen, before moving on to pot and then cocaine this quarter. "Just out of curiosity," Courtney explains. "You're drawn to a thing you know nothing about. There's no reason not to be."
"I knew I'd try it eventually," Lindsay says matter-of-factly. "It's in my personality. I love to party, socialize and have fun. As much as people don't want to admit it, we're at the age to be ridiculous. Our behavior is risky. We live on the edge because danger sparks people's interest. You think, 'Oh my God, I have no idea how this is gonna feel.' "
Courtney vacates the seat and Sarah McKenzie hops in, preparing her line.
"Play something epic," Sarah tells Sean, the DJ behind the computer. "Cuz this is an epic experience."
Sarah rolls up the dollar bill and hands the Access card to Max Harding, who puts his finger over the powder still on the card and rubs it on his gums.
"That's my favorite part," he says of rubbing coke on his gums to numb the membranes. "Snorting is still cool, though."
Sarah rolls up the dollar bill and takes her line, throwing her head back while inhaling. She grabs the black iPod from Sean and tells him she wants to play the song she listens to whenever she has a hangover. The Replacements' distorted guitars blare from the speakers, drums pounding on each downbeat, as the lead singer yells, "All I want to do is drink beer for breakfast!"
"There's an age you shouldn't be doing things," Lindsay says over the roar of the guitars. "You have to have a certain mindset. It can be dangerous, life-threatening the first time. But if you're at a mature level and willing to take the risk, that's OK."
She pauses, then adds that it's important to be with people you trust.
"The first time we used E, I've never felt closer to Courtney," Lindsay says. "Drugs change the way you feel. The fact that you're not in a regular state of consciousness makes it that much cooler."
Sarah gets up and Max takes the seat, cutting off a large line of coke. "Cut it in half," Sarah tells him. "You don't want to do that. Your nose will bleed."
"No it won't," Max says, bending down to do the line.
While Lindsay talks with me, Courtney walks outside on the patio to kiss her boyfriend, Tim Morgan, another dealer who is not a student but moved to Santa Clara two months ago. When the two started dating, Lindsay says even she was concerned.
"He may not have the best track record on paper," Lindsay says. "When Courtney told me, it was a big red flag. But I told her, if you trust him and he treats you right, that's legit, even though you're walking on thin ice. People say to her, 'Why are you dating a loser?' First of all, why do you say that if you haven't met him? I didn't trust him at first, but I got to know him, and he's a legit human being."
Lindsay says Courtney's boyfriend isn't the only one who gets a bad rap. Cocaine isn't talked about at Santa Clara, she says, because coke users are judged harshly, whereas pot smokers and drinkers are not.
"People say, 'You must be a bad kid -- you're a hard user,' " Lindsay says of students' perceptions of coke users. "But it's not all negative. I don't think it should always be considered so bad. No, it's not good to use it all the time, but it's OK just to play with it."
Still, Lindsay says it's not something she advertises.
"I don't think it's safe to even talk about with everyone," she says. "If someone is uncomfortable with it, all they have to do is tell a CF. Cops won't break down the door over an eighth of weed. They will do it for coke."
Courtney walks back into the room from the patio and asks, "Anybody got a cigarette?"
"What?" Lindsay blurts out. "You're gonna go do cigarettes?"
"No, it's for someone else."
"Oh, OK," Lindsay says, before turning to me. "I know, we'll do coke, but we won't do cigarettes."
Sean leans forward in his dining room chair, adjusting the volume on his computer as he lays down a beat. Beside the computer is an 8-track digital mixer on the table and a blue Stratocaster guitar that two of Sean's friends, students Trent Joseph and Alex York, pass back and forth.
The beat continues, and Trent strums chords resembling a Matisyahu song while Sean takes it all in digitally on some of his $6,000 worth of music equipment, partially purchased with drug money. While Trent continues strumming, Frank pulls out an orange medicine bottle containing an ounce of weed. He then pulls out a multi-colored, foot-long bong. He packs the weed inside and takes his first hit. After a second one, he trades the bong for the guitar and picks up strumming where Trent left off. Trent takes two puffs and directs the bong in my direction.
"No thanks," I tell him. Without questioning me further, Trent motions to Sean seeing if he wants a hit.
"No, I got a drug test coming up," Sean responds.
Sean, wearing a Santa Clara hoodie, has a slender build, a baby face and wavy, uncombed hair. When he arrived at Santa Clara, he smoked weed but didn't think anyone did coke. That changed when a girl convinced him to split an 8-ball with her. Sean was hooked.