David Bouchier: A Few Well Chosen Words

David Bouchier’s weekly essays are full of unexpected observations and whimsical opinions. Listeners will relish his entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes exasperated commentaries on the routines that carry us through the year, the surreal rituals of politics, the unsettling experience of foreign travel, and the confusions and comedies of everyday suburban life.

You can hear David Bouchier on-air Monday mornings or by subscribing to his podcast, A Few Well Chosen Words.

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Several years ago I gave up wearing a watch, not because of any metaphysical uncertainty about the reality of time, but simply because the watch band began to irritate my wrist. I tried all kinds of bands – leather, plastic, metal – and eventually took to keeping the watch in my pocket, 19th century style. But then, I suppose, I had a kind of epiphany. Did I actually care what time it really was, all the time? Some watches are status symbols, but mine wasn’t.

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Perhaps the most curious phenomenon of tourism is the journey to see an event or situation that no longer exists, and perhaps never existed. This is as old as history. Pilgrims have always journeyed to places where religious visions might or might not have appeared, or famous people might or might not have been buried. But the ubiquitous cellphone has given it a new dimension of strangeness. The goal is not simply to visit nonexistent sights but to photograph them, preferably with one’s own face in the foreground. Above all it is about participating in the world of movies.

Associated Press

It seems that the algorithms that increasingly rule our lives have decided that I am getting younger as I get older. For years I’ve been hounded by advertisements for arthritis remedies, hearing aids, lounge chairs, river cruises, health insurance, and other useful products for senior citizens. Now, suddenly, I have crossed another invisible barrier and entered my second childhood. The latest catalog to arrive in the mail with my name on it is for toys.

John Minchillo / AP

My life, like yours, is made up of routines. They begin in childhood with feeding routines, play routines, and then the unforgiving timetable of school. By the time we grow up, if we do, we are thoroughly accustomed to the idea that certain ritual activities are repeated every day, week, and year. We live, quite literally from cradle to grave, in a world of routines. It’s what keeps us sane. These are not just the habits of life; they are actually life itself, and we get very upset when they are interrupted.

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One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read or re-read more classic novels, and I have been enjoying “The Pickwick Papers” by Charles Dickens. This ever-changing carnival of stories within a story offers many pleasures, but what astonished me was that the author, writing in 1885, had such a deep grasp of politics, not just then but now.

Dickens describes an election in the small town of Eatanswill, contested between two parties, the Buffs and the Blues. These parties had no ideas, and no programs except to despise and frustrate the other side.