Fade in: Smitten Ice Cream, early Saturday afternoon, line queues outside and wraps all the way up to register, where three customers—a middle aged STRANGER, his WIFE (or possible mistress), and an adult MAN-CHILD—discuss toppings with cashier BAKER (played by me).
BAKER: Okay, so that’s one salty caramel on a cone with chocolate crispies, one small sweet corn, and one small vanilla with malt syrup. Can I get a name for the order?
STRANGER: Maxim. M-A-X-I-M… As in de Winter.
BAKER: I was just about to say!—
STRANGER: Are you a Rebecca Fan?
BAKER: I— (BAKER stops what she’s doing, and turns to look directly into the eyes of the stranger across the register.) I love Rebecca.
(Guffaws and awe shucks emit from WIFE/MISTRESS and MAN-CHILD.)
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
BAKER: (Still recovering speech.)
STRANGER: You’re the first person to get it. No one ever gets the reference.
BAKER: It’s easy for me. I was a literature major. (Shrugs.) Actually, the name really struck me when I was reading the book, because I couldn’t figure out if you’d pronounce it Max-IME or MAX-im. I’d never seen a name like that before.
WIFE/MISTRESS: But you’ve seen the movie, right?
BAKER: Of course! I’m a huge Hitchcock fan. Wait, so Maxim isn’t you’re real name?
STRANGER: No. But when I need to provide a name, it’s always de Winter, at your service. (Slight bow).
MAN-CHILD: (In an offhand manner) Sometimes he tells his wife she reminds him of Ms. Danvers.
BAKER: That’s not a compliment!
WIFE—DEFINITELY WIFE: (harrumph)
BAKER: (Smiling.) Please sign in the gray box.
STRANGER: (Signs receipt on iPad. Adds tip.) Well, you’ve just made my day.
BAKER: No, you made mine!
The screenplay you’ve just read is a word-for-word replica (more accurately, a heart-to-heart) of what was purportedly said and done between two passing strangers at Smitten Ice Cream in San Francisco on the 10th of August. neither of the principal characters are destined to meet again, (though not due to fire-related reasons), but their shared joy for Daphne du Maurier’s masterpiece Rebecca will never be forgotten.