Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Note From the Author of "Johnny Driver"

The Misadventures of Johnny Driver is the continuing story of a summer job like no other. About five summers ago, I took a job as a delivery person for a flower shop in the Hamptons, a job that would provide me with many memorable experiences. After working there for two summers, the idea came to me to put these experiences into a story.

The Johnny Driver series is at times funny, other times just plain strange, and occasionally serious, but the misadventures found in the series are always entertaining, and they've gotten great reviews from readers, including Stewart Wellington himself, the owner of Wellington Flowers.

The Misadventures of Johnny Driver were first published in the old Associated Content website, which today goes under the name Yahoo Voices. You can still find the original versions of Johnny Driver at my page here, or you can begin to read the rewritten versions right here on this blog.

I recently decided to revisit the series as with experience I feel I've gotten better at telling the story and I've begun this weekend with rewrites of the first two chapters, or episodes. To me, they're cleaner and easier reading than the originals, and I hope to continue rewriting them until the whole series is complete.

To read the Johnny Driver series on this blog, you must go back to the beginning, starting with the introduction, and work your way backwards for later episodes. It's the only way I can think of for now to publish it.

In all, there are two whole summer seasons worth of misadventures in the Hamptons, and there's still more to share. Keep posted with newer ones as they are published via the Writing Wednesdays segment on John's World, my other blog.

In the meantime, check out the revamped episodes here and here, and keep on the lookout for more to come. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chapter 2 - Who's in charge here?

In the few months that Johnny had been away from Wellingtons, things had changed drastically. Not only was Kona gone, but it seemed that Misty had eradicated all traces of her. She was very different than her predessessor, and her presence changed the whole atmosphere in the shop. It had decidedly gone from fun to serious and Johnny didn't like it.

Misty Langdon was born and raised in a little town called Alden, Kansas. At first glance, she reminded Johnny of the Maryann character from Gilligan's Island. She was tall and naturally pretty in a country girl sort of way, with freckles, pig tails and the slightest of Midwestern accents. She often wore plaid shirts with cut off short shorts and she seemed to charm the pants off every guy that came into the shop. She was very agreeable to everything Stewart said, and she seemed a little too sweet to Johnny, and he didn't trust her.

Misty had been living in East Flatbush, Brooklyn with her aspiring rock star boyfriend and several of his band mates. She'd be staying in the apartment upstairs during most of the summer, which would turn out to have its ups and downs for Misty. Prior to coming to Wellington's, she'd worked for several upscale and not so upscale florists in New York City.

During his workday at Wellington's on Mother's Day weekend, Johnny had had little contact with Misty. He'd been surprised at her appearance in the shop and besides that he was on the road for most of the day. That all changed in June when Johnny was called in to work a wedding.

Johnny had to be at the flower shop bright and early, for a wedding was taking place out in East Hampton. When he arrived at 7AM, Wellingtons was already abuzz with activity. Misty had shipped in a bunch of her flower shop friends from the city and they were all running haphazard trying to get things done.

"Well, good morning Johnny." Misty flashed her country girl smile.

"Hey Misty. What's going on?"

She introduced Johnny to some of her friends. There was Lita, a British, organic florist from the city; Sheralyn, Misty's "flower school" buddy, and Jaden, one of the "dudes" that lived in Misty's Brooklyn apartment. Sheralyn's boyfriend, Fillipe was downstairs helping Stewart find some vases they needed. Jackie was there to round out the group.

For the next two and a half hours, everyone worked hard to get ready for the wedding. It was a big one, with more than 600 guests. The ceremony was at 4PM and guests would be arriving around 3:30 or so. Through all of the chaos at loading the van and making sure they'd had everything they needed, Johnny noticed that Stewart wasn't his usual self. Everyone seemed to be deferring to Misty for direction, including Stewart. Something was not right!

to be continued...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Season 2 Begins - Introducing Misty

It had been a long, long winter for Johnny. Being alone for the first time in his life was difficult, both emotionally and financially. Winter that year seemed especially dreary, and the school year was particularly wearing. Once the weather started to warm up, Johnny started thinking about working in the flower shop again. Though that job had worn him out by the end of last summer, he definitely needed some relatively mindless work to after all of the mental stress that came with being a teacher.

Just before Mother's Day, Johnny got a call from Stewart asking if he'd like to work the Saturday before the busy holiday. Johnny jumped at the chance as he was excited to get back to Southampton. It had been months since he'd seen Stewart, Kona or Jackie and he was looking forward to seeing them again. Like any other group of working people, they'd become another sort of family to him. He hadn't spoken to Kona since last January and he was really looking forward to more good times with her.

Soon enough, the day to start back at the flower shop had arrived and Johnny raced all the way to Southampton, excited to see everybody. He parked the car and went into the flower shop.

"Hey Johnny!" Stewart walked over to greet Johnny and give him a welcoming hug as he entered the back door. "How've ya been? How's school? Are you ready for a crazy day?" Stewart's reaction to seeing Johnny was mutual to his. It already felt good to be back.

They chatted for a few minutes when Johnny heard someone coming up the stairs from the basement. "Kona!" he thought, the excitement welling up inside him at seeing his long lost friend.

Continue the story here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Author Talks about the Johnny Driver series

About three and a half years ago, things in my life had gotten tough financially. As a school teacher, summers are always the leanest of times, and the summer of 2007 was especially tough. During the last week of school, I was told that summer school had been cut and I needed to find summer work fast!

In a past career, I'd had a client who had owned a limousine company and he'd had me register for a Class B driver's license, which would allow me to drive a limo for him part time. Though I got the license, working for him never panned out, but I held on to the license just in case. That summer I figured that maybe I could find work driving a limousine for extra money so I put an ad on Craigslist: "Teacher with Class B license looking for part time work for summer.

I got a couple of bites, but they were just too far from home for a part time job. Then one day I received an email that intrigued me...all the email said was "Why don't you call Wellington flowers?" The email had a phone number...

And so began a part time, summer job that's lasted for four summers to date. Wellington's is a flower shop located in Southampton, New York, the summer playground for the rich and famous. Working as a delivery guy for Wellington's has provided me with more interesting experiences than you can imagine. Some of the things I've witnessed during my summers in Southampton have both shocked and amazed me. Eventually, towards the middle of last year's summer season, I decided to start a series based on the fictional me, Johnny Driver.

The Johnny Driver series has been well-received by many, including the folks at Wellingtons. Every time I pen a new piece, I have to email Stewart, who always gets a kick out of them. Some of his responses to them have been priceless, and we've shared many laughs about the series. At one point, he even began to share them with some of the folks at the flower market in New York City and hopefully soon, Johnny Driver will be a link on the shop's website.

Though I've had to be very creative in tip-toeing around some issues on occasion, I've tried to stay true to experiences and situations that really happened. It's been great fun to get reaction from the real people upon whom these characters are based, and I enjoy writing these misadventures as I see them.

The Hamptons is a very unique place, with all sorts of characters from the "upper echelons" of society. Attitudes and behaviors among these people are not what you'd encounter in everyday life, and it gives me great pleasure to share some of my experiences with you. The Johnny Driver pieces have been greeted with great comments and encouragement to continue here on AC, as well. There are surely a handful of fans who became fans because of Johnny Driver, and I'm very greatful for that.

All of the characters in the Johnny Driver series are based on real people and all of the situations come from real events. Though Kona is no longer a part of Wellington's, I still keep in contact with her through Facebook and she still makes me laugh. All of the Johnny Driver stories to date are from that first summer at Wellington's and there are definitely more great misadventures and new characters yet to come. Season 2 is almost completed and will be posted here soon in its entirety. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Message from Johnny Driver

Hello everybody,

This is Johnny Driver, you know, the guy that works out at that flower shop in the Hamptons...the one with all of the "misadventures." Well, I was telling John Myers about something I saw in the paper the other day and I wanted him to tell you all, but he's been really busy lately so he told me to write this myself.

John tells me he hasn't put out a Johnny Driver piece in awhile. He says he's been writing about other stuff, like music and his trip to Canada. Blah, blah, blah. He tells me that it's hard to be in the Johnny Driver mode during the winter. I guess I can understand's kind of hard to think of all that crazy stuff that goes on out there in the middle of summer when the snow's piled high to your knees every other day.

Anyway, getting back to that newspaper article...wait, wait, gotta go back a second.

I've been working at Wellington's for three summers now. Every year, right around Mother's Day, I gotta make a decision whether or not I want to drive again for the summer. I like delivering flowers and just being out there in the summertime. It's never boring and exciting stuff can always pop up anytime. But it's hard work and long days, and I'd really like to have a summer off like all the other teachers I know once in awhile. All my teacher friends are going to Puerto Rico or Aruba or just laying on the beach everyday and I'm always working my butt off.

I really try to save enough money so that I don't have to work in the summertime. It's really expensive living on Long Island, especially when you're single and you've got a mortgage to pay. But every year I end up without the money to get by so I go back to Wellington's. From the looks of things already, I think I'll be delivering flowers once again this summer. Only this time I'm a little excited.

I know John's told you how much I love Madonna, the singer. Yeah, my first year at Wellington's I thought I was going to get to meet her, but it didn't quite happen. I don't want to rehash that story, but it brings me back to this article I saw in Newsday the other day.

The article was called "Madonna reins in more land" and is about how she bought two properties in Bridgehampton. Bridgehampton! I go there all the time on deliveries! I almost jumped out of my pants when I read that! Maybe, I thought, just maybe I'll get to deliver some flowers to her. I mean, Wellington's is the most well-known flower shop on the East End, and who doesn't like flowers.

I can just see it now...

Johnny gets back from his first round of deliveries. Stewart tells him to grab lunch quick because he's got another long list for the afternoon. He peruses the list to mentally map out his route and he sees the name. He starts palpitating a little.

"What's the matter Johnny?" Stewart asks.

"Ma Ma Madonna! Is it really her?"

"Yes, Johnny, and she specifically asked for you to deliver her roses!"

"Really? Oh my God! I've got to get a new shirt. This one's filthy."

So I run to Saks across the street, but they've gotten rid of their men's department. "Damn, now what?" I run up and down Main Street looking for something to wear for my Madonna delivery, skipping lunch altogether. I end up with a Southampton t-shirt, but at least it's clean.

I quickly change and get the van loaded for the deliveries. I'm going to the Ciccone residence first! I hop into the van and take the Wikkepogue shortcut in anticipation of my moment. I've loved Madonna ever since I first heard Everybody back in 1982. I've got all her albums, t-shirts, and I've seen her in concert more times than I can remember. I'm really excited!

I pull up to the gated driveway and nervously push the button.


"Flower delivery for Ms. Ciccone."

The gate opens and I slowly drive the van up the meandering driveway. I pop a mint in my mouth to cover up any mal odor I've got and check my teeth and hair in the rearview mirror. I grab the flowers from the back of the van, a mix of beautiful multi-colored mini-roses in a gorgeous vase, and make my way towards the front door. I ring the bell.

A young Ecuadorian woman answers the door. It figures! I glimpse over her shoulder to see if I can see any blonde hair moving around inside. Nothing. The woman grabs the flowers from my hands, says thank you and shuts the door in my face. Damn! All that excitement for nothing! Damn these Hamptons and their servants! Doesn't anyone answer their own door around here? I walk away dejected, peering towards the windows of the house as I pull away. No Madonna! Nothing!

So maybe I won't work at Wellington's this summer!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chapter 13: Kona heads west for winter

The birthday party in the city with Bill was the last job of the season for Johnny. He went about his life, teaching out on the East End, far removed from Wellington's and Stewart and Kona and all that Hampton's stuff. He didn't think about it too often, except when he spoke to Kona. The two of them had become fast friends towards the end of the season and had gotten together a few times after that party for drinks or dinner.

Read on here.