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.

Easter is the season of bunnies, and chocolate eggs, and weddings. Like the opening day of baseball it signals that the wedding season has started and play can begin. Marriage is still quite popular, and will never die out I’m sure as long as there are weddings, although I suspect that the desire to have a wedding is sometimes much stronger than the desire to have a marriage. So the traditional family is safe as long as the fifty billion dollar a year wedding industry continues to flourish.

For a long time I have been intrigued by the steadily increasing size of suburban houses. During the last four decades the average family size has decreased by ten per-cent, but the average home size has increased by sixty per-cent. A few years ago I visited a model home in one of the developments that have sprung up in the potato fields of eastern Long Island, because I was curious to see how such a quantity of domestic space could be put to use.

We have all been the victims of proverbial wisdom, particularly when we were children. A large part of the job of parenting is to bombard one’s offspring with warnings and advice in the form of easily remembered clichés posing as absolute truths. My mother was very fond of these, and had a large collection of them as perhaps mothers still do: it never rains but it pours; all’s well that ends well; still waters run deep; silence is golden; the devil makes work for idle hands. Well, that last one may be true.

This week we have an appointment to meet with our tax accountant. I’m not asking for sympathy, just a little understanding. It’s always with a sense of doom that I pull out the boxes and the files and start working through the contents. There it is, my whole life for the past year reduced to dollars and cents: every meal and hotel room, every postal packet and phone call, every printer cartridge and paper clip, every check flowing in and every check flowing out (a considerably larger number), and every regretted extravagance.

It’s the first official day of spring, a traditional moment of optimism and hope. As the weather improves millions of people will soon be on the move in search of a better life in the West.

Migration is a desperate measure: remember the Pilgrim Fathers, the Italians, the Irish, and all the others who came here. Nobody really wants to leave their home country, their culture and their language to start all over again. In the case of refugees from violence, political chaos, and religious madness, we should surely offer them a safe place to live in our vast open spaces.

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