Friday, June 20, 2008


You've read the book, of course, right? Or seen the Hitchcock movie, or a BBC-TV adaptation or two?

If you're a boy, probably not so much. So I'll give you a quick recap: Rebecca (spoilers!) is the classic, if a bit swoony, Daphne du Maurier novel about a young, plain, awkward mouse of a girl who meets and is swept off her feet by a brooding older man with a mysterious past. He marries her and takes her back to Manderley, his estate, where she is completely overshadowed by the lingering memories of his dead first wife, a queen of society, the beautiful, polished, charming, brilliant Rebecca. The second Mrs. deWinter is the main character of the book and it's written in first person from her perspective, but to emphasize how utterly effaced she is by the glamour of Rebecca, we are never even told her given name.

At work, my desk is still stacked with files left behind by my predecessor, who retired last November. The drawers are full of her office supplies, correspondence on the shared drive bears her name (Theresa, actually), and whenever I meet someone new I am introduced to them as "Theresa's replacement."

This is actually pretty much where the resemblance to the novel ends; the few pictures of Theresa I've found show an extremely pleasant-looking person with a sweet smile, but as far as sheer female charm and bedazzlement go, I think I have a bit of a leg up on her. Also, as a decades-long state agency employee, she did tend to do things the old way.

"Now, go ahead and look through the files to get a feel for how everything works," my new bosses and coworkers keep telling me, "but this is your job now, so feel free to change things up to the way you like them."

"Okay, thank you," I smile, nodding politely; but they always add, with peculiar emphasis, "No, I mean it. Really. Feel free."

Actually it's not at all bad, coming in, early in my career (well, maybe about midway now), to a position which was left by someone at the very end of hers. I do have a lot of different experience and new ideas and talents that she - without any disrespect to her; she seems to have been dedicated, competent and thorough, and done her job very well - just didn't possess.

Thank God for that, because, as the second Mrs. deWinter came to learn the hard way, hotness ain't everything.

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