New Jersey & Me: Perfect Together: Part 2

I know you've been anxiously awaiting Part 2. I've let you down. I apologize.

Anyway, the weekend after the Great Atlantic City Adventure found me in the Giants Stadium parking lot, at the State Fair, which, as far as I know wasn't actually an official state fair, like say, the New York State Fair (maybe someday I'll be back, Butter Sculpture). But, hey, a fair's a fair. Who has time to debate semantics? Besides me, that is.

So, after a typically bad experience on the NJ Transit bus, I walked along the highway and headed for the "State Fair" (one of their actual slogans: "Animals: Live, Stuffed, Fried"). The real mission was to obtain a photo with Buffo, the World's Strongest Clown, a gentleman brought to my attention by a fellow Old South Hill Association fantasy baseball player last year. Buffo played some minor-league baseball before deciding that his life would be better spent in greasepaint, entertaining the children of the world and ripping phone books in half. I think it was a good choice, and if I could rip phone books in half, I might even head down that path myself. But a life as a carnival clown is yet another career that a communications school doesn't prepare you for. Unless you graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism. Oooooohh...burn.

I arrived at the fair just in time to miss Buffo's early evening performance, so I had a few hours to kill before the late show. I figured the Coronas Circus Hollywood might be fun. I figured wrong.

The motorcycles in the great big Globe of Death (always a favorite, along with Gunther Gebel Williams, at the much more enjoyable Ringling Bros' circuses my family went to when I was a wee lad) were about as exciting as it got. The clown's (I didn't even catch his name because the sound system was so crappy) big moment came when he played an interminably long pair (?!) of light-jazz songs on his saxophone. I'm not laughing. And other big acts included poodles dressed up in increasingly embarrassing costumes and two horses who mainly trotted in circles and gave the impression that they would rather be glue. It was the type of circus that David Lynch would look at and say, "Too creepy for me." I was glad to get out of there, but I still had more time to kill.

I passed on the reptile house, the petting zoo, and the various freak shows (including the 29-inch-tall woman) because those all would have made me feel very uncomfortable. I briefly toyed with the idea of paying $5 to get my picture taken with a monkey on my lap, but cooler heads prevailed. So I just snapped this while a kid gave the monkey a quarter.

Because it's not a visit to a fair without stopping by to see the racing pigs, I spent the remaining pre-Buffo time at the pig track, which was, I swear, right next to the vendor selling BBQ pork platters. Now that's a lot of pressure. But, as far as I could tell, the pigs all did a swell job. I missed the big finale with the really fat pigs, but, you know, sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

As I situated myself to the left of the Buffo merchandise trailer, Buffo was leading the kids in a spirited "Cotton-Eyed Joe" group dance. But after that wrapped up, it was showtime. It was a brief show (maybe 30 minutes or so), but during it, he did indeed rip a phone book in half and, as his big closer, broke a piece of wood with his bare hands. I have to admit that he was indeed the strongest clown I'd ever seen, so, really, complete truth in advertising there. Of course, you can see for yourself at any one of the fairs Buffo will be visiting this summer. Plan your vacation around the dates at Buffo's site. Or book him for your very own "Adult Party," with the "optional surprise ending." And let me know how that party turns out.

After the show, I lingered around until all the kids were gone and got my signed photo. I actually bought two photos, one for me and one for this year's fantasy baseball champion (which will not, I fear, be me). When he asked me the name to sign on the first one, I told him my name and he asked who James was. When I told him I was James, I think I probably frightened him. But then I explained the fantasy baseball situation, and he and Mrs. Buffo seemed pleased that I knew of his baseball career. He also told me that he recently appeared in some sort of bodybuilding magazine, hoping, I suppose, that I would go out and buy the magazine. But my Buffo fandom only goes so far.

Luckily, my fandom did extend far enough for me to put on the red nose he gave me for the picture. I hope that you, dear Tinsel and Rot reader, are appreciative of the complete lack of shame that brings the following picture to your computer.

No one can party on a Saturday night quite like me.

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