No, it's not a Mexican drug cartel, although CBS News sensationally called it "liquid cocaine" a few months ago. According to Phusion Projects, the heinous company responsible for Four Loko, it's a "premium caffeinated alcoholic beverage" (it seems everything is premium these days). For $2-3 a can (the price varies), buzz seekers, fiends, and street urchins can get a 23 1/2 ounce beverage with 12% alcohol by volume, several hundred milligrams of caffeine, and 60 grams of sugar.
I remember the first time I heard the liquid scourge Four Loko casually name-dropped in a conversation. It was dangerously dark out in the night's embrace and I was somewhere in the depths of the city wearing a second-hand floral print cardigan and sunglasses (when you have the kind of visions I do, sunglasses become a constant necessity). As he took long drags from a cigarette, a man with exceptionally slim jeans and stylishly unkempt hair told me a story about how he had passed out on a bench after drinking 2 Four Lokos (yes, 2!). Immediately, I was colored by the impression a most excited tone. I wanted to know more about this mystical beverage, Four Loko. Four Loko. It brought to my mind images of surly cowpokes and all of the sunsets I wished I had rode into when I had the chance. The reverie ended with the sudden realization that references to Four Loko had been all around me for months, like some kind of signpost. On Facebook, the "social cocaine", I began paying more attention to illuminating comments like "tried 4 lokos last night ... puked my guts out" and "the only side i notice [from Four Loko] is my shits for few days."
Then, a quick search of Twitter for "4 loko" revealed to me a bevy of elucidating comments (which I had missed before), such as:
"I have GREAT FRIENDS!!! They brought me a watch & a card, a 4 loko, and some wine..." - LadiiLongLegs
"u know u aint tht drunk off a damn 4 Loko" - CJ_OffTheWall
"Son, some dude came in the store 2 hours ago asking for 4 loko's...nigga looked like a feen...I had the O_o look" - Alcohol Drinks
"The new web edit @CraigPassero made of me starts with me drinking 4 loko mid day, NAAIIIICEEEE!" - lukedangelo
"I feel u queen latifa on set it off (coochie licker type 4 loko type shit) lol" - VB2U
The results on Twitter suggested that Four Loko was most popular amongst irresponsible younger drinkers and African-Americans, which was what I had suspected all along. Considering that I am part of the irresponsible young drinker demographic and fond of the other demographic, I figured I should try Four Loko. Thousands of Twitter comments can't be wrong, can they?
Of course, I went through my usual pre-drinking ritual first. I got a pack of Camel cigarettes from the corner store of magical fluorescent lights and some sleeping pills from my trustworthy dealer (I like to take a 1/4 or a 1/2 of a sleeping pill when I drink for the dreamlike quality it gives standard alcohol intoxication, and then I swallow the rest of the pill[s] when I'm ready to sleep). With the song "4 Loko" by the inestimable L Boogie blasting from my tiny computer speakers and the blinds closed like a paranoid shut-in, I cracked open a can of Four Loko and imbibed. It tasted like a heaven full of steroid angels. Or Red Bull and Monster. Something like that.
In a 1/2 hour I was drunk. Another 1/2 hour went by before I blacked out. I woke up the next morning with empty cans of Four Loko strewn about my room and two strange-looking and garishly made-up girls in my bed. And feathers, feathers everywhere and mysteriously so.
Four Loko, in my estimation, will debilitate an entire generation of Americans, with people like myself at the forefront of the decay. How cool is that?