I'm in a state of denial. I don't believe tonight is Dave's last show.
I won't be able to watch it. I mean, literally . . . I have a caricature gig tonight, past midnight. If I wasn't working? I'd probably still not be able to watch it.
David Letterman has been a staple since childhood, for me and countless others. I remember ringing in the new year with Dave, when he still followed Carson. I remember watching years' worth of "guess the pie" with Dave's mom on Thanksgiving, of "hit the meatball" with Jay Thomas at Christmastime, of a teary-eyed host revealed on 9/11. Dave was there when I wasn't invited to a party, or when a date stood me up, and I could end the night with a laugh, guaranteed. When the "scandal" about his affairs made the news, and he addressed it directly, the only thing that changed was how my admiration for him increased. Despite his characteristically reclusive nature, we know more about Dave than we'd care for anyone to know about ourselves.
I stopped watching Dave months ago, literally because, I figured, if I stopped watching on my own terms, I can actually always think he's still there, forever. I'm sure I'll watch tonight's last episode eventually, as I watch Johnny Carson's last episode on tape every few months, as a reminder of a time when America had at least an hour of television in common. Perhaps we still find that camaraderie in Jimmy Fallon's viral videos, but our time together is getting ever shorter. Johnny's Tonight Show was originally 90 minutes. Now, we're lucky to score a two minute YouTube clip. Draw the line in the sand there, people. Hold on to the last few minutes we have left together. Make it last forever.