Why Cocaine?

As I’ve met with different reading groups to discuss The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party Girl, one questions that’s come up a few times is that of why I chose cocaine as Audrey drug of choice — why not meth, for example, the use of which has become tragically more common within my beleaguered heroine’s demographic in recent decades, or even pot, as depicted in Weeds?

I have a few answers for this question, but my wife found the best one in a footnote in Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire, in which the author quotes David Lenson as writing, “Cocaine promises the greatest pleasure ever known in just a minute more… But that future never comes.” The conclusion Lenson draws is that the experience of using cocaine is “a savage mimicry of consumer consciousness.”

In other words, what cocaine offers is a host of increasingly empty promises — i.e., the next hit will always be “the one.” The same can be said of pretty much anything anyone can purchase within our profit-driven consumer society. The next purchase — a new car, for example, a new TV, a new laptop, a new pair of shoes — will be the one that makes everything else in our lives snap into place as if by magic. Or so we’d like to believe. But when buyer’s remorse sets in, as it inevitably must, we move on to the next purchase — bigger, better, new and improved.

As anyone who’s read my book knows, this is one of the major themes in Wonder Mom, and one that I wanted to draw out through Audrey’s growing addiction. It’s not just about drugs. It’s about the eternal quest for something wonderful just around the next corner — something that promises the world but delivers a goose egg.