Such a Shame About Little Ouida
Standing in line with her bottle of Chardonnay at the Valu-Rite Market in Nyack, Ouida was reminded of that old line “A bottle of wine has as many calories as three cups of gravy.” Which doctor was it that always said that? Or was it from one of those wretched encounter groups with the promise to empower you to "take charge of your life"? Of all the abuse Ouida had endured in her life, nothing was worse than these groups where she had to sit in a circle and hear a bunch of self absorbed losers recount the tedious details of their boring, pointless lives. She started to turn and take the wine back to the refrigerated aisles with rows of Samuel Adams and enormous bottles of Kenwood but she halted. Maybe she might go back and grab some Easy Gravy Mix just out of spite.
Perhaps we should go back to where it all started at Dr. Baumgartner’s clinic in
Storming out of the room, Quida would scream “We are nothing alike!” And, indeed, only into his third year of research did Dr. Baumgartner learn that this was, in fact, true and that Ouida and Frieda were not twins but surviving triplets, their sister Lita having died mysteriously in a bathing incident involving choking with multiple rubber duckies.
Determining Ouida’s role in this was always murky, and Dr. Baumgartner chose to overlook it and instead focused on trying to break through Ouida’s rages and hysteria. When she took up an interest in gardening, it seemed there had been something of a breakthrough. The fact that her two favorite flowers – foxglove and oleander – were potently poisonous seemed to escape Dr. Baumgartner.
Mrs. Vogle took it as a sign of great progress at the girls’ ninth birthday party when Ouida burst onto the dance floor with Dr. Baumgartner in a joyous twist as “Under the Boardwalk” played at full volume. Mrs. Vogle was less excited, six months later when she found Ouida snuggled next to the doctor in his bed.
Things took a turn for the worse when Frieda turned violently ill after drinking a cup of hot chocolate Ouida had prepared for her. Only after returning from the ICU and noticing freshly cut oleander by the sink – and no vase in sight – did Mrs. Vogle start having doubts.
But Frieda’s sudden death after three days at the hospital put the family into such a spin there was no time nor energy to ask questions that probably should have been raised. And, after four years of intensive analysis with Dr. Baumgartner and no progress nor answers, Mrs.Vogle was ready to stop asking questions and just let mysteries rest.
When Ouida turned 15, the Vogles had reached a point of having lost the will to object when Dr. Baumgartner asked for the girl’s hand in marriage. In an unexpected turn of events, he left his practice and opened Godiva Vineyards on the outskirts of
Dr. Baumgartner was found dead in the vineyards four years later, by what the authorities -- likely too distracted or too tired of hassles -- determined to be natural causes. Ouida sold the vineyards back to the Valduccis at triple the price she and the doctor acquired them for but with four times the production. She lived briefly in
For years she was a regular at the Ebb Tide Lounge on Herman Street until her weight got out of control and her looks began to sag. Now she can be seen every afternoon at precisely 4:38 p.m. (except Tuesdays, an oddly sacred night when she drinks only filtered water) in the line at the Valu-Rite with her signature bottle of wine. As the checker scans the bar code and glances at Lady Godiva on the label, does he see any connection to the woman swiping her Chase debit card and raising her collar before punching in her four digit PIN?