David Bouchier

Commentator

David began as a print journalist in London and taught at a British university for almost twenty years. After coming to the United States in 1986 he continued to teach and to publish a regular humor column in The New York Times regional edition.  He joined WSHU as a weekly commentator in 1992, becoming host of Sunday Matinee in 1996. His latest book of essays, Peripheral Vision, was published in 2011. His other books include A Few Well Chosen Words, The Song of Suburbia, The Cats and the Water Bottles, The Accidental Immigrant and Writer at Work. He lives in Stony Brook, New York with his wife who is a professor at Stony Brook University, and two un-musical cats.

Spring flowers,soft-focus TV commercials, special advertising supplements, and white stretch limousines making wide turns into the catering halls: it all adds up to wedding season. In spite of the enormous social changes of the past fifty years, this one historic ritual still survives.

It’s Commencement Week at many colleges and Universities. Tens of thousands of young people will be launched into a new life and let’s not forget, a few people who are not so young. There may be as many as two million students over thirty in higher education right now, and some are even older. Last year a remarkable woman, Ingeborg Rapoport finally got to defend her doctoral thesis at the University of Hamburg, at the age of a hundred and two.

Since the dawn of history people have performed rituals of cleansing and purification involving water. Just about every religion has some form of ceremonial immersion.The ancient Romans had their grand public baths, and regarded dirt as a mark of barbarism.And here in America we have the car wash.

I am old enough to remember when suburban husbands were expected and required to spend every summer Saturday morning in the driveway, washing their sacred vehicles by hand with sponge and detergent, and finishing off with a hose and leather.

Last week our local library organized an electronic equipment recycling day. We had been anticipating this. Dead pieces of electronic equipment had been cluttering up our closets for years. So we brought some computers that had suffered a terminal crash, or that had simply been made obsolete by cunning software updates. They looked forlorn and slightly sinister in the light of day, and I wondered whether they could be brought back to life. Or might they come back to life by themselves? What personal history and forgotten secrets might I be throwing away? So I pulled out the hard drives.

The day after tomorrow will be Administrative Professionals Day. In case your grasp of the English language is a bit out of date, Administrative Professionals are skilled white collar employees such as secretaries, data managers, and administrative assistants. Until the late 1990s this celebration was known as Secretary’s Day, which was criticized as being rather narrow and demeaning.

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