Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Late Show

We spent a few days in NYC last week. I always enjoy being there but don’t enjoy the trip to or from. Once on the ground, though, it’s an overwhelming buffet of things to do and see and places to go.

The week before we went, we got a call from the David Letterman show saying that our ticket request would be granted if I could answer one Late Show trivia question. It was a simple question “Dave’s announcer, Alan Colter . . . what color is his hair?” Easy – flaming red! So we were granted the two tickets for the show on Wednesday night.

Some of you are asking “Why would you want to see Letterman after the turkey-like revelations about his personal life and his reckless disregard for his wife - the mother of his son? I don’t know. I just wanted to see the show in person, wanted to hear Paul Schaffer and the CBS Orchestra and I wanted to see the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Just fyi….I remember seeing the show the night he confessed his DWI - dalliances with interns. He was criticized because the audience laughed during this very serious monologue about the attempted blackmail scheme and the indiscretions of his personal life. It was obvious that he was uncomfortable but made even more so by the laughter from the audience. The staff goes to unbelievable lengths two hours before hand to drive home this point…laugh at everything! There are no applause signs . . . you’re just instructed to laugh all the time and clap at any opportunity. They said this to us “If you’re on the fence about whether or not something is funny, laugh anyway.” I’m guessing the prep was the same night after night. The staff prepped the audience as usual, I’m sure, unaware that Mr. Letterman was going to come clean that particular night.

I remember watching the Ed Sullivan show when I was a kid. I was blown away the first time The Beatles performed in the USA on that show. I still remember Ed Sullivan saying, in a way that only he could . . . “The Beatles” which was followed by screaming from the audience that, pretty much, drowned out the music.

So I was particularly pumped that, somehow, we found ourselves sitting on the front row – literally propping our feet up on the stage during commercial breaks.

I’m not going to say what I’m about to say because it’s what you expect from me or because of the kind of things recently revealed about Mr. Letterman - Not so those that count themselves in the Christian Always Right (and never wrong about much of anything) can point their well-rehearsed fingers of condemnation at some poor soul.

(Poor Soul? When David Letterman signed on with CBS to do his show years ago, his salary was somewhere in the neighborhood of $14 million dollars a year! Alert the media – making a lot of money doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy. I really don’t know how many more times I’m going to have to hear that, see examples of it, experience it before I really get it!)

Getting, finally, to the point – I suppose I’ve seen sadder people in my lifetime. They’re everywhere and it’s heartbreaking. But the most vivid and intense feeling we got from being a few feet from this show business legend is that he’s so very broken and sad. I’m very much aware, however, that I don’t know a whole lot about David Letterman and I want to point out how careful any of us should be at drawing conclusions with little bits of information. Lest any of us revert to the “Good, he’s getting what he deserves” scenario, let me remind you (and me….AGAIN), I don’t want what I deserve!!

We were told that Dave would come out a few minutes before the show and, if time allowed, he might take a question or two. Of course, that set us to asking each other, “What would you ask?” My first impulses were pretty dumb. But my wife said she would simply ask “Are you ok?” That says a lot about her for which, on this day in particular, I find myself extremely grateful.

During commercial breaks on the show we attended, Dave would take off his jacket and walk around the stage alone. Whatever energies he had to harness to interview the guests and keep the show going were put on pause. Then, when back on the air, “showtime.” I have to say, he’s brilliant at it!

There were so many things about the evening we enjoyed. The music was tremendous.

But it was another reminder of the beauty and simplicity of taking my faults and my failures to the Cross and leaving them there. This is why we want people to come to Christ. Not just for fire insurance, not just for eternal life, but for abundance, real joy and peace that passes understanding. I have a few new people on my prayer list.

And now for something completely different (or at least on a completely different subject).

Thanksgiving! Find a way to do it.

Sure, there are things I wish were better, things about the past I’d rather forget that, during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons seem to get amplified beyond a normal mental volume. But I pray you’ll all find a reason to say “thank You.”

My son, Neal and his wife and three sons spent the last few days in Louisiana with my brother, his children and my mom. I wanted to get there to simply be in the room with the representatives of four generations of Watson people but could not.

It did make me think about this though – for me and for you. How many more of these will we get? What if this were the last Thanksgiving? It’s time to set aside some of those pet grievances you’ve been feeding all your life, get over it, say “forgive me” or “I forgive you.” Or Something like that. You know what to say.

Let me tell you without burdening you with details – I almost didn’t make it to Thanksgiving this year and now that I understand how real and possible that is for all of us, it makes me want to embrace all things good - all the blessings and scream out loud “THANK YOU!”

Without being fatalistic or morbid, remember how brief life is, how easily it’s taken away and how precious is every moment. I know there’s heaviness in lots of hearts right now - economic pressures, job stress, family stress, political unrest, world hunger and poverty. On a more personal scale, we have friends that are wrestling with all kinds of sadness and disappointments.

And with all gentleness and all the compassion I can muster, I want to say I’m thankful for you all, for the troubles you’ve endured this year, the great victories and, most of all, the great hope for eternity that’s in us all.

Christ in me, the hope of Glory.


Wayne Watson