The Meat Rack
In the third bar of the evening, a young man dropped his pants for us.
On the right cheek was a red welt, about the size of a half dollar. Rod said he got it from God. Now, for the rest of his life, he got his drinks half off.
It seemed important, so I took a somewhat hurried photograph.
Rod and Christine said that we should go and drink in Godâ€™s bar.
How could I turn down an offer like that?
Rob, Christine and I met working in a bar in Anchorage, Alaska. When the summer was over, we exchanged information, and said we should stay in touch. We, of course, didnâ€™t. But a year and a half later I found myself traveling through Tucson Arizona, and on the off chance, gave them a call.
They answered, and we quickly decided to go out drinking for the evening.
We began the evening at a cafÃ©, with sandwiches and Guinness, then off to a New Orleans style restaurant, for the deep-fried pickles. Deep fried pickles are fabulous, cold in the middle, and hot and crispy on the outside.
The next stop was the bar at the Hotel Congress. Itâ€™s known as a historic landmark in Tucson. It’s 100 years old, which is very old in Tucson. I assume it is because no one actually moved here until the invention of air conditioning.
The bar feels good, with lots of old wood, and the feel that it should have sawdust on the floor. It was busy for a Tuesday Evening, the crowd mostly early twenty-somethingâ€™s. Most of them knew Rod and Christine.
Rod had worked as a bartender in this town, so he knew a certain group of the drinking population.
A group of eight or so of us stood around, holding our beers and discussing the weather and the price of beer.
â€œHowâ€™s your ass?â€ Rod asks a man in our group. Normally that would seem like a rude, or embarrassing question, but the man did not skip a beat, or blush with the answer.
â€œItâ€™s still sore, and swollen. Do you want to see it?â€
The group all nods in general agreement. So my new friend turns around and uncovers his ass.
Everyone else seems to know whatâ€™s going on, so I keep my mouth shut and wait until I can ask Rob what the hell is going on. I finally get a moment and ask, â€œWhat the hell is going on?â€
â€œGod branded him.â€
â€œUmâ€¦â€ I answer.
â€œWell, he calls himself God, I donâ€™t know his real name, but he owns a bar near here called The Meet Rack. He had a brand made to look like his face, which if you allow him to brand you, you get something like 50% off all your alcohol for the rest of your life.â€
â€œUm…â€ I answer.
â€œWe should go there tonight.â€
The building for Godâ€™s bar is an old warehouse, a rectangle with no ornaments on the outside except a sign declaring that this is The Meet Rack. Parked underneath the sign, in front of the entrance is an early 90â€™s pale blue-green Ford Festiva. It has a personalized Arizona plate that reads â€œGOD.â€
Through the front door, there is a small hallway, with two â€œPrivateâ€ doors, then it opens into the main bar. The space is huge, most bars I am used to are small and dark and â€“used to be- filled with smoke. This one was dark, with the corners disappearing into the darkness. There were seemingly huge empty spaces of floor, which the square bar in the center, the pool tables, and the tables and chairs seemed to float lost.
Along one wall were pictures. Pictures of God with local politicians. Pictures of God with drunken women.
Above the bar was the sign â€œBeach Barâ€ with a surfboard hanging next to it. The surfboard seemed to be the only thing that had to do with a beach. Or maybe it was the bras draped over the surfboard, which were supposed to be beach like. I definitely donâ€™t think the bras stapled to the ceiling – some of them signed by their ex-owners – were very beach like.
Maybe I go to the wrong beaches.
The bartender comes over, and she is wearing a t-shirt that says, â€œThe Meet Rack: Liquor where she likes it.â€ Rod, who is outgoing in ways that I will never be, tells her that I am a famous travel writer planning on writing a story about the bar.
She smiles and nods in an obscure sort of way, delivers out drinks, and then ignores us. We talk about the bar, and unimportant matters. After a little while a man walks up and introduces himself as God. He is medium to tall in height and could be anywhere from 35 to 65. His outlandish waxed grey mustache and goatee reaches out beyond his face, making up for the baldhead and beer barrel of a body.
He is the ultimate bartender. Loud and enthusiastic in a not subtle sort of way. He used large gestures with his large ring covered hands, his voice booms, he talks about the bras on the ceiling with a wink of the knowing, like he has known them all.
I asked about the brand, and he shows me one of his brands. â€œONE of his brands.â€ I thought to myself.
This brand was two letters, an M and an R, each about two inches tall. And it was a brand, a long metal stick with the letters on the end, just like those used on cattle.
I was afraid to ask if anyone had ever used this brand.
But I did say that we had seen someone with a brand on his ass earlier this evening, which is why we were here.
He offered to brand me, so I could get 50% off alcohol for the rest of my life.
I sadly declined his offer.
â€œWould you like to see some pictures?â€ God asked.
He led us into one of the private rooms up front, which was filled with filing cabinets, shelves, and a desk. God pulled out a photo album, bursting with pages, each page with four photographs of people that he had branded.
Flipping through the pages I was astonished, or maybe dumbstruck. Here was picture after picture of individuals who had the brand on their body. Some on legs, or upper arms. But there were quite a few women who had the brand on their breasts. In the photographs they were all smiling largely, they all had large breasts, they all had low cut tops and they all had Godâ€™s face easily visible between their V of their shirts.
The brand from earlier this evening was indistinct because it was new, while these were sharp and crisp, with Godâ€™s face clearly recognizable.
I looked from the book to his face, and back again.
â€œWant to see the dungeon?â€ God asked.
For some reason my mind instantly went to Mel Brooks singing about the Spanish Inquisition, and of course we said yes.
It was across from the office, and was filled with what God described as â€˜My Toysâ€™.
The room was painted dark green, with an I-donâ€™t-want-to-know-how-it-got-stained carpet. There was a gynecologistâ€™s chair with examination stirrups, which might not be used for its original purpose. There was a special swing hanging from the ceiling, with a small poster on the wall of suggested positions. A wooden board, which looked to be covered with carpet, and had a dildo stuck to it. God demonstrated that the dildo could be moved to any height, to accommodate different sizes.
Christine and Rob contemplate God’s Dungeon.
Among other items, there was a pole vaulting horse, and a six-foot circle mounted to the wall. The circle spun, and would have been at home with a scantily clad woman strapped to it, with a man throwing knives at her. Which, metaphorically speaking, is not much different from what it is used for now.
God grinned even wider.
Christine walked over to the circle on the wall. God asked if she wanted a go. She looked at the two of us, and with a what-the-hell expression, allowed herself to be strapped in and God spun her, laughing, round in circles.
We looked around the room, taking care not to touch too much, and finally God took us back to the bar, and despite not being branded, bought us a drink, and excused himself.
There was not much to say, as we discussed some of the more obscure devices in the dungeon. We discussed how they were actually used, while out imaginations filled in the blanks.
But for the rest of the evening, my mind kept flashing back to a drawing on one wall of the dungeon. It was of a women, hands and legs bound in S&M play, wearing boots and almost nothing else, with the slogan:
â€œGod Made Me Do It.â€