Today, when I gave blood, the petite, Hispanic technician informed me that I was now a member of the Gallon Club. She explained that I had made eight visits to the blood center over the years, and, having given eight pints, was now in the ranks. Opening a white file cabinet, she removed a gaudy gold plastic pin in the shape of a drop of blood. It was emblazoned with a red cross on a white field, and in nearly invisible writing below the insignia, it said GALLON (1) DONOR. I graciously accepted the honor. Now, however, I was curious about “the rights and privileges appertaining thereto.”

In a better world, there would be an actual Gallon Club, like the Yale Club of New York. Wearing the pin, I would proceed under the umbrella awning and be saluted by the doormen. I would pass up a grand, semi-circular marble staircase, and be invited into the Gallon Room, an expansive taproom where people drank two-quart steins of beer and ate French-dip sandwiches with plenty of jus. Light would come in through round leaded portholes set with brown glass panes. Later, in the wood-paneled great common room, complete with twinkling Christmas tree, there would be wine, hors d’oeuvres, and a speaker decrying the metric system—in particular, the SI units for volume. The audience would nod knowingly, as this was the traditional invective hurled yearly against the Gallon Club’s malevolent counterpart, La Fédération des Litres. There, blood was not taken in good honest pints, but in units of 450 millilitres. How was anyone supposed to get a gallon out of those? How could they have a club for litres in the first place, as the closest they ever got to a litre was 900 millilitres, a paltry amount to begin with? An outrage! As a member of the Gallon Club, I would be bound to act. We would block the stairs to the building of those Litre chaps with fifty-gallon drums filled with miserable plonk. That would certainly show them a thing or two. Perhaps a couple of infernal mechanisms of death lifted from Jules Verne would assist us.

Somehow, I made it out of the donation center without incident.

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