IN & OUT OF CHARACTER: an attempt at analysis Part III
Hey peeps, and thanks for all the good wishes – and your patience. I’m struggling back to form, and promise to be a better blogger from now on . I also apologize to people who made comments that have gone astray.
But anyhow, here’s another bit of analysis of BR’s “autobiography” (yes, I use the quotation marks intentionally).
I think all the oddness of everything we have read between the leaves of IN & OUT OF CHARACTER pales to nothing beside the extract I’m sharing with you today:
My first reaction is hard to express. If this was tumblr I’d do some sort of keyboard smash and a lot of question marks. It’s basically just a very very weird segment.
Let’s start with this:
If BR wrote this he had been smoking some serious stuff. Ouida Bergere-Berger-Branch had never “carefully guarded” a budget in her life and never would. She would have had less chance of carefully guarding a budget than being President of the United States, or winning an Oscar for one of her screenplays.
But that is nothing compared to the story of the double-robbery it segues into.
Are we actually supposed to believe this trippy little tale? First a thief breaks in to their hotel room – with (we are told) a German Shepherd dog asleep in it – steals the money and exits, while (we really have to quote AC Doyle don’t we?) “the dog did nothing in the night time.” Then the following week, a completely different thief steals Ouida’s purse, with another pay check in it, while she’s browsing at a magazine stand?
No mention of police being called. No mention of any other witness beside Ouida.
I don’t know why it’s in the book at all, let alone why it’s introduced with the words “and it certainly wasn’t her fault.” Because the one thing that this narrative makes almost painfully obvious is that both robberies were entirely Ouida’s fault, because it was Ouida who did them.
It reads either like something written by a fairly clever writer who wants people to know beyond doubt Ouida stole the money without actually having to say so, or like something written by a very obtuse, narcissistic writer who has no idea how absurd and implausible their cover story is.
In other words, it could be BR telling the story of his wife’s deceit in such a way that Ouida would ok it – thinking he was absolving her. Or it could be Ouida telling the story herself, in the belief that her cover story was perfect and would fool everyone.
Which is it? I’m really unsure on that. It could be BR, it could be Ouida, or maybe both – BR’s story with Ouida’s interpolations. I can see her adding in the stuff about “carefully guarded budget” and “it certainly wasn’t her fault,” because to a naïve and childlike mind such as she seems to have possessed, this simple stating of things like “it wasn’t her fault” is enough to make everyone believe them. The possibility of it having the very opposite effect – drawing attention to the very thing being denied – would be beyond the scope of her imagination.
But whoever wrote it, I think the one thing we can take away from this is that Ouida stole her husband’s pay checks and made up bad lies about what happened to them. Lies so transparent it seems pretty unlikely anyone believed them. (In fact according to one of our readers, Katharine Cornell opined at one time that Ouida had stolen the money, but I’m not able to verify this at the moment).
Why was she stealing from her own husband? Was this an isolated example or something she did regularly? Did she just steal from him or from others too?
Is it time for a diagnosis of this woman who seems to have lied at any opportunity, stolen from at least one close family member, manipulated people ruthlessly,been impervious to their consequent suffering, and obsessed with her own image to the point of delusion?
And why did BR endure it? Why didn’t he realize no good was going to come of being married to someone who did this kind of thing, and just get out while he could, before there was a child to consider? Why did he put himself in this compromized and hellish position? Because whether he wrote that story about the theft of his pay checks or she did, it shouldn’t be an issue being dealt with in this way, in public, years after the event.
Why was he still there, thirty years later, trying to deal, or letting her deal?
That’s the real question isn’t it.