My first real exposure to David Letterman was in elementary school, when Steve Marsh brought The Late Night with David Letterman Book of Top Ten Lists and The Late Night with David Letterman Book of Top Ten Lists: Roman Numeral Two! to class.
I flipped through them and then expeditiously sought out copies for myself, which I pored over like they were scripture. One listee that I remember just slaying me: Yugo Screw Yourself, from the Top Ten Rejected Model Names for New Cars.
Because I was born the same year that Late Night with David Letterman premiered, most of what I know about his NBC show I gleaned from those books. For me, David Letterman's legacy is the first few years of his CBS show, when Morty was still his producer, when he still did remotes. It was kismet that I discovered him and was an age at which I could appreciate his work at a time when he was playing to win the game.
As time went on, I saw less and less of Dave, until eventually he became just one more face in late night. It happens sometimes. Entertainers come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant.
Although I haven't watched his show regularly in more than ten years, I know I'll miss him forever.
I never had any inspirations later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?
And now, from the home office in Sioux City, Iowa, the Top Ten Things That Come to Mind When I Think of David Letterman:
10. Boutros Boutros-Ghali
9. His championing of Bonnie Hunt, producing not one, but two failed sitcom vehicles for her, and appearing on the former as a thief, albeit clad in a balaclava
8. When Green Day's drummer jumped in the pool behind his desk after performing "86" on Late Show from Los Angeles
7. When he invited John Michael Higgins, who played him in HBO's adaptation of The Late Shift, to be a guest on his show, only to bump Higgins and never ask Higgins back
6. Him spraying Richard Simmons with a fire extinguisher
That remote also features a dipstick prank that I wanted to take behind my middle school and get pregnant.
3. This "guy squirts milk out of his eye" Stupid Human Trick
2. "Would you like to buy a monkey?"
1. Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler's worked shoot, of which he was oblivious
Kaufman and Lawler were supposed to apologise to each other, followed by Andy singing "What the World Needs Now Is Love." Instead, they fooled the world for 13 years.