Nearlys Booze Gearbox

There are 5 drinking gears. However, no-one knows what the 5th one feels like, because us mere mortals pass out when we achieve it.

Gear One, aka, "Just One Pint"
This is when you don't even realise the effects. A little verbal lubrication, it puts you in a better mood, gives you a little spark. Equivalent to a small tot as a belly warmer when it's freezing out, Gear One is what you aim for when you're drinking during a meal out, it's dinner party before-the-meal-is-over style drinking, or out to lunch with work colleagues. That style of kidney.

Gear Two, aka, "Shits and Giggles"
This enters the pint every forty-five minutes realm. You've got a readily identifiable buzz going, it's having-a-larf-with-friends, or watching-a-crummy-movie-with-a-six-pack-style drinking. You're definitely under the proverbial influence by now, but all is well. You're in a great mood, talking pure shit and exchanging stories - but be warned: you cannot sustain this, the "Golden Gear" without traversing, albeit briefly, the infamous, wonderful and mysterious land of the Third Gear.

Gear Two is the optimal drinking stage, you're aiming to keep this up aaaaallll night, it's the perfect mixture of relaxed inhibitions and not giving a crap. It's a nice, loooong gear. It's cruising gear. Nice, slow, easy and relaxed cruising. Cruising with the windows down, slow enough to leer at the womenfolk, but fast enough to keep things rolling along at a nice pace. It's being in the proverbial groove. You start using words like "panache" and "dapper"

Gear Three, aka, "What?"
Gear three is somewhere you want to sojourn - you're just visiting. Take your time, see the sites, explore... but remember you're coming back. This is the crucial point in drinking - there is a definite point of no return in the murky, ethanol depths of the Third Gear wonderland. Here is where the drinking guru comes into his own: you want to get as close to the point of no return as you can, before returning exultantly back to the familiar home grounds of the Second Gear.

Now, the thing to do is stop drinking altogether, nurse your pint, step out for a smoke and an involved philosophical chat.

There are two sets of behaviour that characterize this gear: first the Guru drinker, just described and second, the going-over-the-edge drinker... The guru drinker does as prescribed <sic> above; the over the edge drinker, ignorant of Gear Arcana does just that, and drinks himself irrevocably into Fourth Gear Hell.

So, Third gear is the incomprehensible gear. Hence the name. Your slur deepens and broadens, expands into unintelligibility. Your thoughts become confused, way beyond the mere 'skew' of Second Gear. You start to make even less sense, and "What?" becomes an oft-repeated phrase. Things in general are on the edge of control. You find yourself without restraint, liable to spin out of control into the Fourth Gear wasteland. You find your vocabulary expanded into words you're not sure how to use, but use them anyway, because no-one else can understand you as it is. Then you know it's time to stop, drop and roll, turn around, and head back to the comforting embrace of second gear. But sometimes... you... DON'T... duh duh DUH!

And so we enter...

Fourth Gear, aka, "Drinkers Dilemma"
A common, irrevocable pitfall among the non Gear initiates, who blunder blindly into its unholy realms with careless disregard for the Third Gear point of no return. Entry into the fourth gear is characterised by the sudden, brief moment of blinding sobriety initiated by an unsettling twinge of the gut, where you just have enough time to think "Fuckmonkeys, I've entered the unhallowed halls of the Fourth Gear" before you are gripped in its heady swirl of blind drunkenness. Behaviour in the Fourth Gear is random and unpredictable, characterised by any of violence, tears, or life endangering stunts.

In the Third Gear you were able to stand, with a little help, but now you're reeling on the floor between bouts of being seized by a manic energy. You are quite probably drooling, and glaring wildly. Unfortunately, there is no escape from the fourth gear. You're either headed for Fifth Gear, much to everyone's secret relief, or you're getting on the Big White Telephone to God, and crawling into bed.

More to come, including: recommended beverages for each of the stages, drinking rate recommendations, and, of course, the "What Gear Am I In?" quick quiz.