Brush with Greatness


Here's the story of how I met Gary ''Baba Booey'' Dell'Abate... (November 21, 1998)

In all of my years of being a Stern fan I've never met one of the stars of the show. When someone like Gary, Stuttering John or Jackie does an appearance it's usually way out of the way for me. When I heard that Gary would be making an appearance at a Pets Plus pet store in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, I decided it was time to get my ass away from the computer and get something signed. Since someone was nice enough to have sent me a copy of the ''Private Parts'' movie script back in 1996 I figured that would be an ideal item to start my autograph signing collection.

Gary was scheduled to appear at this pet store from 1 to 3pm. My girlfriend and I got to the Pets Plus around 1:30. I couldn't believe how packed the friggin place was. There wasn't one parking space available! ''Screw this!'' I thought to myself. It turned out that the store was having it's grand opening and everyone in town came. We drove around the store 2 times and didn't find a spot to park. I decided that it wasn't worth the hassle and that we should just head home. We started off but decided to stop and eat. After we ate my girlfriend asked if I wanted to try one more time. I really didn't want to but we went back for one last try. This time we found a parking space and headed in to the store.

The first long line of people we saw were waiting to have their kids pictures taken with some people dressed up like the Rugrats cartoon characters. Yikes! Kids all over the place. Eventually we found Gary and waited in line behind about 15 people. I opened up my copy of the ''Private Parts'' script so I wouldn't fumble around with it when I got up to Baba Booey himself. I was standing there looking over at Gary in the flesh. This was going to be my closest brush with a celebrity since meeting Kenneth Keith Kallenbach! I was actually nervous for some reason. I had butterflies in my stomach like it was a first date or something. What the hell is wrong with me? It's only Gary after all. Standing next to Gary was Tom Cipriano aka ''Captain Janks'' the Howard Stern phony phone call king. He was just hanging out enjoying the non stop crowd that got in line for Gary's autograph.

Eventually my turn came to go up to the table where Gary was sitting. I put the script down and asked Gary if he'd sign it. Much to my surprise he said ''Oh wow! Where'd you get this?'' I told him that some guy from Burbank had mailed it to me back before Howard even started to shoot the movie. I said ''I run Mark's Friggin dot com.. '' and Gary says ''Oh, you're that guy?'' I hear Janks say ''You're Mark Mercer?'' Here I am thinking that Gary's going to say ''Mark's what?'' and blow me off. He went on to tell me that he'd just checked it out the other day to see what I had to say about this Sal the Stockbroker incident that was going on at the time. Gary's brother-in-law had been sending him some of my daily highlights and he knew about the site. I thought that was pretty cool.

Gary signed my copy of the script told me that he never even got a copy of it himself. He was in the movie and he didn't get a copy! We chatted for a few seconds and I got out of the way so Gary could continue signing. I spoke to Captain Janks for a while and Gary would join the conversation here and there. He was a really nice guy and his teeth aren't as big as I expected them to be. I was glad I didn't bring in the printout of my 1994 cartoon of Gary for him to sign. That would have been rude.

My girlfriend and I must have spent 45 minutes talking with Janks and Gary. Janks even got a job offer while I was standing there with him. A guy asked him if he wanted to do phone sales. What a perfect job for him! Eventually the fun had to end. Near the end of everything Gary's father showed up. He seemed like a nice guy also. Someone had given Gary a battery powered gorilla that sang and moved. Gary was going to leave it behind but his father picked it up and said he was going to mess with Gary on the way home. Gary packed up his free fish tank chemicals and signed a couple of women's t-shirts before heading out with his dad.

So that's the story of my brush with greatness. It wasn't Howard himself but that may be the closest I ever get. Keep an eye on my Plugs and Appearances page to see where Gary and others will be appearing. Stop in, get an autograph and tell them Mark sent you.

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