DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Good Things in Three Nine times when someone saw something (and said something)
The changes were all gradual -- not as simple as the name going from Andy to Andrea, but much deeper. Those phone calls first thing in the morning? He'd gotten so used to them that he'd slept through them by the end of the relationship. Is it still a breakup if two people gradually drift apart? Never mind two ships at night moving at the pace of glaciers.
Perhaps the frog in a pot example was apt - the changes were so slow, that it hadn't really occurred to either of them that they were moving in two different directions until one day they realized it had already happened. What could he say? That he was jealous of the voice at the other end of her phone? That he wanted to be the one whose calls she always took? He wanted to be able to bring back that smirk of victory when she'd not only managed to accomplish the impossible, but had even one-upped the result. She might have called it childish, but he was even more afraid that her answer would have been too glib to appreciate his attempt at recovery.
The rules that surrounded Miranda Priestly were many and complicated. But they boiled down to two main concepts: 1) You never asked questions of Miranda Priestly; and 2) Miranda Priestly never explained her decisions to anyone. Which was why Jocelyn was so shocked to witness the now infamous "Cerulean" sweater diatribe to Andrea Sachs first hand. It was a teachable moment -- one filled with multiple references to fashion history -- most of which everyone (except for Andrea) was already familiar with and needed no mentioning.
She'd never seen Miranda explain anything before, especially not to a second assistant -- these came and went regardless of which Emily was the first.
III. Richard Sachs
Seeing Andy for a few days challenged her explanation that she was learning a lot from this new position of hers at some fashion magazine. (Runway!) It had been difficult for her and Nate in New York City -- everyone came here to live their dreams, and sometimes these dreams began as nightmares (Must remember to leave her another check for rent). This new Andrea may have been Andy in Ohio, or even at Northwestern, but here, she spoke faster, reacted faster, and always seemed to be in a hurry to be somewhere else.
Who was this woman that could command Andy's (no, Andrea's) attention even when she was a thousand miles away in Miami on a hurricane alert? (It is madness to try to travel now!) Yet he couldn't help but be a (little) bit impressed at what Andrea was trying to do, and how many people she could call upon. It was colored by the resentment and annoyance that he couldn't even enjoy Andrea's company for an evening without her attention being diverted away by those phone calls.
The first time Andrea came in attired in Chanel from head to toe, it was as though a veil had been pulled away to reveal something new. Those thigh-high boots did wonders for her posture, and she'd finally found her center of gravity and was no longer hunched over trying to hide a part of herself from the world.
Suddenly it wasn't dowdy "Andy" anymore and everyone noticed. Certainly, the sudden silence from Emily was a marked change from the usual critiquing. Even more interesting would be the times where even Miranda noticed this new "Emily" and her new found style.
V. Emily Charlton
Emily may have made Miranda Priestly the center of her world -- jumping to fulfill every quiet instruction, and desperately looking for ways to meet Miranda's wishes, but she also knew that she was not the center of Miranda's world. That would have been a spot shared by Fashion and her daughters. There was loyalty from one direction, and Emily was uncertain if there was any consideration from the other.
Yet, as far as having a sole focus for Miranda Priestly, she was also Emily's blind spot. Of course Emily had noticed that Miranda hadn't fired Andrea 'Please call me, Andy' Sachs from Runway at least a dozen times by the end of the first day. It would take until after the Paris trip before Emily has connected all the dots that she'd collected while running after Miranda into an image that she'd not seen before. One where the focus was no longer on Miranda Priestly.
Somehow a certain former second assistant had managed to find her way back into Miranda's life and the whole picture had changed from Miranda Priestly as the indubitable voice of Fashion, softening the sharp edges that had seemed define Miranda for the last decade into a more complete picture - one where she smiled (not like a shark, but where the joy reflected in her eyes).
Ever since third grade with Mrs Feldman, Andy had always made the first move -- the first gesture of friendship (sharing the bag of candies), the first sign of remorse (apologizing for not spending the lunch hour with Lily even though she had promised to do so), and even the first invitation for a sleepover (on the Hallowe'en weekend). Throughout the years, the ritual would be a week from the 'incident', Andy would make a gesture, and two days after Lily would laugh and forgive, and they'd make another promise (that would be broken sooner or later) to not have another 'incident' again.
Even when they'd all moved to New York City, Andy and Lily's friendship had survived a fourteen-month separation; ready-made friends in the City were much harder to come by. Over the months, even though Andy would still apologize for her tardiness and general absence from the lives of her friends (was the Marc Jacobs a gesture?), they lacked the same intent as they once did. Even though Andrea might have had the same wide smile and bright eyes, this newly fashionable creature that was dressed to the nines was no longer the pushover that Andy was. Lily knew that for once she'd have to make the return gesture of rapprochement to Andy first.
Who would have thought that I would spend more time talking to her second assistant than to Miranda herself. Whether it was arranging for dinner, or hearing a regretful voice change the reservations once more, I had certainly heard of this Andrea Sachs long before I ever saw her. I was surprised that she had even been forgiven the transgression of coming upstairs; I had heard the legendary tales of Miranda Priestly chewing through second assistants like so many tasty snacks for a hungry Dragon Lady.
It wouldn't be until much later that I would learn that I was not the only person to want to leave Miranda that week. A one-two punch where I left by way of a facsimile, and Andrea left by tossing her phone into the nearest fountain. I don't think she's forgiven either of us for this transgression yet.
VIII. Irv Ravitz
Assistants, much like other lower level staff, aren't noticed. They're furniture - functional and present but you never notice them until they're not in place. Miranda keeps changing her assistants to such a degree that I don't even bother to ask their names -- the last two were "Emily" in my mind.
Yet this new second assistant of Miranda's was different - not as obsequious as Emily, and a robust brain seemed to be hidden behind those bangs. Twice now, this young woman has interrupted Miranda and I in this ever-changing chess game with just enough distraction to divert my attention. First at the Benefit, and then Paris.
Don't think that I didn't notice Miranda's efforts to send away this Emily that morning. I'd never seen her ignore her assistants before; I could tell that this Emily had somehow found out my own move for Runway and was hoping (once more) to parry that possibility by forewarning Miranda.
IX. Nigel Kipling
Isn't it ironic that I didn't see what should have been so clear even on that first day? That sad, sad girl with her absurdly mundane attempt at fashion -- all neutral browns and tans matched up against mauve? Yet she was hired.
It was a strange amalgam of traits that made her both condescend to the world of fashion (she wanted to become a journalist) and who could forget Miranda's lecture on cerulean, and yet she wanted to prove that she was indeed more than qualified and able to perform the duties of Miranda Priestly's second assistant.
Who can really say where the tipping point was -- maybe it was after Miami and then that book fiasco (honestly, Harry Potter?) but there was a shift in the air -- no longer was Miranda testing this young woman; instead, she gave the instructions and expected them to be carried out without her needing to watch like a hawk. Miranda trusted Six; more so than even Emily. Which was why Paris didn't surprise me. I could understand both Miranda's decision to bring a knight -- Andrea, and then her eventual decision to sacrifice a Bishop to counter Irv's rather obvious effort at capturing the Queen. Although, in the end, the Knight left the field, and the Bishop had only shifted directions for a move (or two).
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