I didn’t watch the last Late Show last night. I have it on DVR and I will definitely watch it but I think I’ll wait until my Mom gets here to do so. See, my Momma and Dave go hand in hand for me. My parents were Johnny Carson fans first. I’m not sure when they decided to start watching Letterman, if they waited until Johnny retired or not, but it seems like Dave has been around my whole life. I would hear my parents talk and laugh about something that happened on “Letterman last night…” I remember the shock and awe when Drew Barrymore flashed her breasts. Above all else, I know for sure that Jay Leno never graced a late-night television in my parents’ home… ever. Dave was their man.
I’ve mentioned before that my Dad worked on the road, leaving early on dark and cold Monday mornings to catch a plane to what ever city his company sent him to, and arriving back home on Friday nights, exhausted and sometimes still covered in filth from the last industrial furnace he crawled out of. He worked so hard, (he still does) and he had it really rough being away from his family for so much of the time. I didn’t realize it at the time but now that I’m a parent, I believe my Mom had it even rougher. There were three of us girls to contend with. Mom had all the homework, the early mornings, the projects, the illnesses, the broken bones (all mine) and the drama, (Oh, the drama!) to handle alone. She was far away from family and didn’t have a lot of friends. Very, very rarely did she involve my Dad in problems over the phone because she didn’t want to worry him and ruin his week. She just dealt. I know how much I rely on Mike to help me on a daily basis, and I don’t know how she did it.
One upside of having Dad gone during the week, was that Mom would let us sleep with her sometimes. Each of us took our turns, all the way into our teenage years, jumping in Mom’s bed and snuggling in. We would fight over her until she would eventually have to say something like, “Nellie gets to sleep with me tonight and you can sleep with me tomorrow. I promise!” One of us would gloat and the other would pout until the next night, when it was the initially rejected girl’s time turn to gloat. I have no idea what Nellie and Emily remember best about those nights, but I remember Dave. Mom would tell me to go to sleep, she’d turn off the lights, and turn on David Letterman, keeping the volume low. But I would never go to sleep. I wanted to see the Top Ten List. I wanted to see the musical guests. I wanted to laugh with my Mom, and boy would she would laugh. I mean, genuinely crack up and belly laugh at that quirky, dry, somewhat awkward man on her dresser-top TV. We giggled endlessly on a night where he continuously said “wacky on the junk.” We were crying with laughter over bits with Rupert Jee and the Hello Deli, and Dave’s obvious discomfort with Jack Hanna’s wild animals. My Mom would try to be serious and responsible, warning me about how tired I was going to be the next day and that I better go to sleep; but in the same moment Dave would do something funny and we’d be back to giggles again. I don’t think I actually ever made it to the end of the show. My eyelids would eventually get heavy and I’d doze off, waking slightly when the television clicked off and my Momma’s arms would circle around me; her kiss brushing my cheek and her cuddles sending me back to my dreams. I wish I knew that the last time I watched Dave in bed with my Mom was going to be my last, I would have made sure to stay awake as long as possible.
I watched Dave as an adult too, mostly when guests that I was a fan of would make an appearance. Nothing about the show was ever as good as when I watched it with my Mom though. Other shows took precedence after awhile and after getting pregnant and having babies, I couldn’t stay awake long enough to watch Dave if I tried. Time flew by and I was shocked to hear he was retiring. Of course it would happen eventually, after all how long can a one man show continue? 33 years is pretty admirable. So, I set the DVR for Dave’s last show and I’ll watch it in a few days. With my Momma next to me on my couch, probably while cuddling one of my own babies.