Dear David Letterman,
This is no fan letter—it’s a love letter.
I’ve loved watching you for three decades. I’m writing because our paths are not likely to cross, even though you broadcast five blocks from my apartment. One night, to your displeasure, we did cross paths. Parked in front of my building was the most perfectly proportioned red sports car I’d ever seen. I circled it awkwardly, peering into it, trying to see what make it was. Suddenly, I felt someone fuming behind me. There you were, angular and angry and trying to figure out how to get me away from your car. I fled.
Congratulations—I’m thrilled that the most intelligent person on TV has become the king of late night. I love Peter Kaplan’s homage to you in New York magazine. He says that on your show you have demonstrated how bravely you’ve faced your personal ups and downs. Instead of living in denial of such issues as mortality (as I do, alas) you wondered fearlessly if there were any babes who wanted to see an old man with a bypass scar on the beach.
Like Peter Kaplan, I keep a beady eye out for the mumbled asides, ironic hee-hees and under-your-breath confessions that reveal your mood, your prejudices and above all your maturing feelings about Harry and Regina, and your growing humanity. I always laugh at the tippling gesture you make when discussing your mother’s beer.
There were several years when I cringed at the dismissive ways you spoke to men in your audience. I even dropped a note at the stage door for Paul Shaffer, whom I know a little, begging him to tell you to stop.
I don’t know if you’re taking a page from Craig Ferguson, who seduces his audience every which way but up, but I love the good-natured jokes and games you now play with grinning guys who’ve queued in line for hours to see you.
Your program featuring your heart operation team was major league. (I was stunned to see graying Dr. Martin Post march onstage while you explained he diagnosed you after you’d run miles without symptoms. I see him too.) I love the way you tell Regis fearlessly that it (breaking you open like a lobster) was the most exciting thing that’s happened to you.
You’re a tough guy. You handled the Sarah Palin contretemps like Fred Astaire in a ballroom. There was nary a misstep, except perhaps for the original joke, which you sincerely seem to regret.
I continue to be amazed by your brilliant, terse questions to all sorts of experts on various topics, from hungry children around the world to global warming.
I loved when you said admiringly, almost to yourself, after the Barack Obama interview, “Wow, that guy in that suit and smoking a cigarette.”
I used to think you were a Republican—after all, you have a lot of money to protect. But now I know you’re a moral man.
By the way, who are you talking to when you hunch with your back to the audience in a corner just before your monologue?
I have few regrets. Friends talked me out of sending you a video of my late schnauzer-poodle lifting both hind legs to pee. College guys applauded him in the street. My friends said showing him off wasn’t dignified.
Anyway, the way you play tennis and baseball makes you look like you’re about 40. Please don’t retire. What would you do? What would we do?
Susan Braudy is the author and journalist whose last book, Family Circle: The Boudins and the Aristocracy of the Left, was nominated for a Pulitzer by publisher Alfred Knopf.
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