“Here they are, ladies and gentlemen, in alphabetical order—the four “Bs” of truly inspired humor writing: Dave, Tom, Erma and Jan!”

At least that’s how I imagined Letterman would introduce us the night Dave Barry, Tom Bodett, Erma Bombeck and I were guests on his late show.

But alas, Erma has gone on to bigger and better audiences in the great beyond, and I haven’t heard a thing from Dave or Tom in years. Eight years, to be exact.

You see, eight years ago Tom Bodett and I had lunch together in the cafeteria of Bremerton Community College. We sat side-by-side and chatted amicably throughout our meal. He’d just given the keynote speech at a conference I was attending, and by clever manipulation and prior knowledge of the seating arrangements (I’d been at that particular conference before), I managed to park my plate right next to his.

I was in heaven. I had pictures taken of us lunching together. I had him autograph the stack of books I’d brought with me. I gave him a “Visitors’ Guide” for the Long Beach Peninsula and told him I’d be his personal escort.

“It might be fun,” he said in his “I’ll leave the light on for you” broadcaster’s voice. I’m sure I swooned. “My wife and I have never explored the southwest Washington coast.”

“Your wife?”

He nodded. “I remarried six months ago.”

My bubble was burst like a … like a … Well, I can’t think of an appropriate simile right off hand to convey the absolute devastation I felt.

Nevertheless, when we appear on Letterman together I promise I’ll be civil.