“Just don’t drink it like alcohol.”
“You mean too fast?”
At that moment they understand each other and realize they will be on the same wavelength for the rest of the night. The room is spacious, allowing the marijuana in the air to serpent its way through and never linger too long in one spot. Drugs have become a common day occurrence in the city, prostituting themselves in the center alongside the Red Light District. I vehemently despise the way drugs and drug culture are being displayed in Amsterdam, quite like how there is no true legitimization of the sex industry, and the goal for both was just to be a massive increase in income. Escaping the area doesn’t take long but it does take motivation or a decent place to stay. In this case the two men in the room with me have both. Among the many paintings hanging on the wall, the small TV-screen and the incredibly bass heavy speaker lies an innocent looking bottle of Sprite. The bottle is one of the bigger ones, 1.5L, but after being poured out into the sink it has become about one sixth lighter. I have been given this unique opportunity through extended contact with the Dealer, and have promised to secure complete anonymity for Meghan Marshall of 13 Furthing Avenue. In all seriousness, there will be personal information revealed about both the client and the seller when deemed contextually appropriate, but do not expect to be able to track them down. The Dealer introduces me as “one of the homies” and throughout the night constant remarks are made about the meta-textual elements of this article. The Buyer asks on several occasions to write down lines that bring me into the forefront as if to share the spotlight on the great stage that is an ever-drooping living room. At no point did I present this article to him as an interview. I refrain completely from asking about the process, the feelings and highs, instead attempting to be just another person inhabiting the space around us, engaging in any topic of conversation and letting the situation evolve naturally.
The bottle is able to be divided into four cups as will the rest of the article.
The drug is lean. A type of opiate that mixes well with trap music. The Buyer has dabbled with other prescription drugs before and is therefore fully aware of the effects that these drugs produce. It will be their first time on lean. Instead of simply procuring it and bringing it back home, the Dealer wishes to provide a unique experience and a form of bonding that comes out of two people doing a drug together. A subtle effect of this tactic is to have the Buyer bond with their Dealer and with the drug. Though they already know what will happen, the premise of a first time ( something new, reinforced by the context of it being an experience) is always exciting. Trap is blasting the entire time and I can’t help but feel like the lyrics, which constantly bring up opiates, embodying the idea that these drugs need to be nothing less than an experience.
Every element of the night can be turned into a spectacle with Snapchat or Instagram serving as the limelight; a pristine shine that adds a magnitude to preparation, pizazz to procrastination. It’s impossible to say that there is nothing but hype tonight. An interesting playfulness is present between how the Dealer is confronted with making the night memorable and having to be seen as not making the night artificially extravagant. The bottle of sprite becomes a scapegoat for many problems; from the very beginning the Dealer points out that Sprite was the only soda they could find. The only option for mixing codeine. There is always the possibility that, although Sprite was the last soda available, the insistence of it being there as a default allows the Sprite to also divert the attention away from the combination having a bad taste. “The lean doesn’t taste bad, it’s just the sprite you mixed it with; next time if you get a better soda it’ll taste a thousand times better.” Lean drinkers have also been known to spend up to 30 euros on a single can of exotically flavored soda.
Before the first cup is served the bottle has to be flipped upside down and like a trashy lava lamp, its lime green shade becomes immersed in a pink ooze. The lights are then cut off in the back of the room, dimming the brightness and having the spectator plunge into an intimate world of lean, couches, cups and comfort. As the delirium liquid is poured, two servings come in, two pairs of shoes come off. There is no ground anymore; the floor has become lava as they both sink into the cushions. As they take their first sips, I drink from a Capri Sun with a crown on it. The music playing is “Prom Queen” by Lil Tracy; things seem to have just come together perfectly.
New royalty, luxury, “opulence… YOU OWN EVERYTHING.”  In between the two cups, a pair of freshly bought Nike shoes are taken out of their box to be displayed to the Buyer. The Buyer is from East Coast USA, a country and area that idolizes and fully embraces the opiates, and yet simultaneously renders them quasi-inaccessible to its population. The average bottle or pill reaches a minimum of $2000, not the price tag most would spend on a single night out. These drugs have been mostly embraced by a subset of the rap community, which bathes in pools of lean and gold coins like the gangster daffy duck you’d see on an edgy Russian kid’s t-shirt. The gold coins are exchanged for many items of luxury in the community like shoes, cars, jewelry, etc. Gucci Mane’s golden Bart necklace is the Dealer’s pet favorite, for example.
A discussion revolves around how Chicago Drill (a subgenre of trap) directly influenced Chicago violence and how the tear tattoos represented the amount of people killed of an opposite gang. Those tear tattoos have also been done on many posers who definitely never killed anything other than maybe their job prospects. In a similar fashion, the American Buyer is influenced by the hype beast culture of trap as they dip their feet into the shallow pool of sprite and lean, hoping it won’t leave their new Nike Airs too sticky. At some point a mis-flicking of a joint causes ash to float down onto their sneakers; the betrayal is palpable. Drugs and shoes have almost become one in the night; the Dealer even pulls out a bottle of lean that was literally stored in a shoe box.
“Poppin’ champagne, we pop bottles”  plays in the background, a joke of how the luxury of the past is the lean of today.
Though the stereotype of the lean drinker is someone slurring their speech, sippin’ on the sizzer, and generally just drooping down, the two couch potatoes were still hot, bouncing from one topic to another. The Dealer warns against going head first into the fuzzy world, rather allowing the effect to wash over wave after wave. By the time they begin to sip on the second cup the Buyer comments on how “it didn’t fully hit but I can feel it creeping in”. As with every drug and druggie community there are certain terms that become widespread; a lingo to express the imagery and feelings of their experience. The Dealer takes out another two pills to mix into the bottle; “I’m about to muddy it up” is his declaration. What follows is the next swish of liquid consuming the codeine and then being stored in the fridge as though in a cryogenic chamber, ready to be released when the future requires it most.
More than documenting the night, the phones are also a gauge of how impacted they are by the lean. The less they are able to talk and engage in conversation, the more they rely on their phones for entertainment. By the time the third cup is served, their speech is slurred and the stereotype has come to life.
The music has transitioned from traditional trap music to the exact same set of songs but now remixed to be “chopped and screwed”. A genre of music that on the surface may sound like a worse version of the original song in every way, a lazy editing that only lengthens the words and tempo of songs, but to the drug connoisseur this type of music is absolutely perfect. Instead of being overwhelmed, the listener is able to follow a particular note and surf on top of it, letting their hands caress each beat as though they were enormous humpback whales, and at the height of the song they spurt out a massive gush of water that floats you up up up into a state of pure ecstasy.
“Tropical drink, tropical weed”  — the lyrics slowly reveal themselves, a foreign concoction and a Jamaican attitude.
A last effort of conversation is made. Two burning questions are on the mind of the Buyer; why didn’t I take anything the entire night and is it possible to fuck on lean? We engage in a conversation about my sobriety from all drugs and how I’ve cut out certain pharmaceutical drugs. I have pretty severe ADHD and took 32mg of Concerta every morning for over two years. The Buyer isn’t really convinced that ADHD even exists and for the upteenth time in my life I have to justify why ADHD is real and how it affects people in ways that don’t gel with society. Surprisingly, he takes it well. Relatively well. He offers some advice based on OCD (two mental disorders that are incredibly close) and how people tend to jinx themselves. He offers up solutions and a decent analysis for a problem that I face on a daily basis: having to reread the same page for thirty minutes straight because I can’t go beyond a simple paragraph, and the frustration associated with it.
Frustration like wanting to fuck on a limp dick: a problem faced by many alcoholics and heroine addicts. The fear of impotence is often a concern for those engaging in opiates, as it is for the Buyer. Reassurance is granted by the Dealer who claimed that his homies were all able to perform with great gusto albeit the side effects of lean being that the actor would be somewhat lazy. A conversation, the final conversation of the night, has the two relating back to their experiences of fucking on different drugs. When lust is invoked and unsatisfied, the other basic urges emerge and suddenly take ahold of them. The most prominent is hunger, a desperation for food, any food, like cheese and batonnets that were refused before and now suddenly pour onto the table like a cornucopia for kindergartners.
“I’m too real, Percocets, that’s the deal”  — one of the final songs, where the reality you escape to is the one created by the opiate. This lyric also demonstrates the community aspect of it; if you can’t handle the Perc then you can’t be with them.
The dry mouths are quenched by a fourth cup. The Buyer remarks that he’s feeling Perc 30, a signifier of how the lean has, beyond creeping up like a spider, tangled him in an intensely cozy web. Speech impediments, slurs and slurry sounds, speech impeded. . . “Yeah, I’m down to watch something now,” and the small TV brightens up, calling forth the moths unable to escape their webs. I leave them be at 4:40.
by Jeremy Bernard
Jérémy Bernard writes slice of life stories for people you would never want to meet in real life. Having grown up in both the United States and France, and currently studying English Literature and Society in the Netherlands, he is able to pull from a wide array of cultures he doesn’t really know much about.