When I walked into the small, rectangular space with Research Assistants Scott and Shawn, I was a little apprehensive. Three guys by the bar were loudly wasted and slightly belligerent. Two sported brown UPS uniforms; the third was a stocky guy in khaki cargo shorts and a navy-blue Nautica tee. We bellied up to the blond-wood bar and, after ordering drinks, Scott asked the bartender to direct him to the bathroom.
"There's a two-holer out back," she replied with a straight face. Then she broke into a wonderfully merry laugh and pointed toward the non-two-holer. After completing his business, Scott passed the UPS guys. A tall, lanky guy with brown hair was rigorously humping the other uniformed guy, who sat on a bar stool. "Yeah, we're fucking," the lanky one yelled. "So what?"
It was my turn to check out the facilities. On my way back, the lanky one called out, "Want to do a redneck shot? Come on, baby!" The guys had a bottle of Tabasco and were pouring drops directly into each other's mouths. I declined and went back to my $2 bottle of Bud Light. We discreetly watched the guys, who, between bouts of touchy-feely roughhousing, kept bragging that they made lots of money. At one point, they poured sugar on the bar counter. "I dare you to snort that," said one to the other.
Next, the lanky one and his stool toppled backward onto the floor. "Goddamnit, Casey!" he said before getting up. In the meantime, the stocky guy kept pulling up his T-shirt to wipe his sweaty face, exposing his third-trimester belly. As the two uniformed guys left the bar, we decided they were probably harmless.
The place draws a lot of UPS and Sprint workers, the bartender confided, because both organizations have offices nearby. Sure enough, a couple more UPS guys came in later. I talked to one who seemed a bit more pleasant than the previous crew. Michael said he'd been behind the wheel for 13 years and now drives the tractor-trailers. He recalled plenty of weird deliveries: animals in formaldehyde, perverted toys and "contraband" — i.e., pot packages that broke open only to be confiscated.
The affable bartender turned out to be the joint's namesake. Connie has owned the place for 21 years. The place is cozy; the bar takes up most of the space, and a pool table occupies one corner. During a lull in the music, Connie gave Shawn some cash and told him to take a turn as jukebox DJ.
As Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine" and Van Halen's "Panama" pumped out of the speakers, Connie fixed a drink for a guy across from us. "It's a new drink. He's ordered 10 of them," she explained, lining up three shot glasses. We asked about the concoction, which the customer called a Mexican Flag, but he refused to divulge the ingredients unless we did shots with him. So we went over to his side of the bar and officially met Fred. Connie got nine more shot glasses out. In the first, she poured Patrón. Lime juice went in the second glass, and Bloody Mary mix went in the third. We downed them in that order.
Fred, a 40-year-old regular with curly brown hair, was very friendly. He said he lives in Greenwood but has been going to Connie's every day since 1994. He lauded the bar's food — he works nearby and eats lunch there. He's also a shot connoisseur — he's pretty sure he invented the Mexican Flag — and urged us to down more random libations with him. After hearing that I like Dewar's, he came up with a shot that mixed it with Tabasco, black pepper and Bloody Mary mix.
"I call it Sue's Asshole," he added. "It's named after my ex-wife."
I declined to partake. I don't do well with shots involving Tabasco, let alone drinks named after an ex-wife's bunghole. Drinks named after the frontal nether regions are OK, I guess. Connie offered us her house specialty, a Pink Magnolia Thunderpussy, describing it as tasting like fruit punch. "I guarantee that after more than a couple, it'll punch you out," she warned us. Made from sloe gin, Southern Comfort, amaretto and orange juice, it looked like pink Hi-C. I detected a licorice aftertaste, but Shawn compared it to SweeTarts.
"I don't know," Scott deadpanned. "It tastes like pussy to me."
Fred tried to set us up with yet another shot, but I needed to stop and turned to Connie instead. Behind the bar was a Lucite case filled with shea butter products. Turns out, she makes botanical healing balms, which she sells at the bar and at Santa-Cali-Gon Days. She started six years ago with soap, which served as Christmas presents for her friends. She called it Another Bar by Connie. After taking classes to expand her repertoire, she began selling body butters, Buckaroo Butt Powder (for diaper rash) and other bath-and-body stuff. Around Valentine's Day, she offers a line of edible massage oils and lotions.
Inspired, she pulled out a jar filled with hand-conditioning sugar scrub. "Let's do a one-minute hand job, baby!" Connie exclaimed. She scooped out a glop for me, Shawn and Scott and told us to rub it into our hands and cuticles before rinsing. The scrub was pretty awesome. Afterward, we all marveled at our newly soft hands.
Hand jobs complete, we gave several well-polished thumbs up to Connie's and took off. We weren't even wishing for any of that sweet UPS contraband after doing all those random shots.