5-7 Units

Enter the portal!!
I’d like to stop. I’m not addicted. I don’t have to have it.

The problem is, I don’t, technically, have to give it up yet. No zygote. No pregnancy. No excuse. So why say ‘no’ to just one glass? Just one pint? Just one dram?

Sigh. And one, plus one, plus one and, well it’s just a few. Oops… But then there are those pesky “units”. A pint is two, and the dram was three fingers, so that’s two. And I think, well, the glass was really a carafe. That might have been three.

So that’s 5-7 units (the amount I said I drink in a week) in the course of a very nice, relaxing evening. A great evening, with my honey-pie, who knocked back 5 pints and a 2 fingers (11 units, or so).

Ain’t nothing like it, drinking in England. Institutionalised and prescribed nationalistic peer pressure. Home isn’t that expensive flat you work all day to pay for. It is the pub, and it is Pavlovian in its instant ability to generate two singularly unique responses.


Not just the “Phew! The work day is over!” effect, but an almost surreal removal from the outer world. The Brits are obsessive in their love of all Dr. Who references so I will join them: to walk through the pub door and order is to enter the Tardis, fiddle with the knobs, and then step out again. You arrive, blinking, into a wood-panelled yet alien place, a spa resort where cigarettes, liquor and crisps are the prescribed tonics for perfect harmony. The more you indulge, the closer you come to Nirvana.

Loss of Control

We aren’t talking loss of limb function (though that frequently happens by the end of the evening if there are more than four in your group). No, by this I mean the pure and joyous OBLITERATION of thought and responsibility. Personal ability to decide anything dissolves like sugar in tea and he who enters succumbs to the ages-old custom of “rounds.” Think?!?! BAH!! Bite your tongue. There isn’t any need to think!! There isn’t any need to consider fertility or health or whether you will be in rough shape for that job interview in the morning! Remember, you’ve passed through the portal! This is the spa and all you need to do is relax and let it take you.

“Four for rounds this evening? Excellent sir/madam. Your bill will be (approximately, based on quantity of peanuts/crisps preferred and number of women taking the LARGE-house-dry-white-option) 15 pounds. All you have to do is sign here. … What? Why certainly sir/madam. Of course there is a contract. To enter the “spa” you must commit to at least four pints/shots/glasses, and the time it takes to consume them. Initial here for optional tequila/Sambuca shot afterward. Oh, and please deposit your brain in this bucket. Here’s your brain-check number. Thank you.”

I think the reason the Queen has arrived, quite healthily, to the age of 80 (her mother lived to 102) is that she is the only living Brit who does not partake of the rounds custom two or three times a week (she only made her first trip to a grocery store last year). When she does have a nip, it’s a healthy Campari and OJ. One unit, plus a hit of Vitamin C-packed juice. And I doubt they serve her that crummy Britvic crap.

Cut back? Cold turkey?

If only they had a patch for all those lovely units.

Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 


  1 comment for “5-7 Units

Comments are closed.