Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wedding Days: Johnny's First Wedding

Once that first summer was over, Johnny went back to school and Wellington's went on without him. The school year begins right after Labor Day, and with it all the summer residents go back to their multi-million dollar apartments in the city. Business at the flower shop tends to slow down, and this was one of the reasons Johnny was such a good fit for Wellington's. Though the day to day business at Wellington's slowed down considerably, business didn't go away completely after Labor Day.

Autumn is a popular time of the year for weddings, and Stewart Wellington made the bulk of his fall business in the world of these (...at least in the world of the rich and famous!) super extravagant affairs. Weddings and other such events keep Wellington's going throughout the fall. Besides, big events like these provide a quick boost in profits without all the headaches of day to day flower business, and one event can equal a lot of gift deliveries!

Read more of part 1 here.

It was a beautiful autumn day in late September, a perfect day for a fall wedding. The setting was appropriate for such an elegant affair: a matrimonial ceremony performed beneath a white gazebo amongst rows of grapevines; a cocktail reception in the courtyard of a monasterial edifice overlooking miles and miles of vineyards; the upper crust of the Hamptons, dressed in their most elegant evening wear, and Wellington's was responsible for making it beautiful.

Read more of the conclusion here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Brushes with Celebrities

One day, early on in his days at Wellington's Flower Shop, Johnny was sweeping the shop floor when the phone rang. Kona answered. It was one of those worldwide floral networks like FTD, only for a more upscale clientele. For those few moments, the shop was quiet, except for Kona's voice speaking to the other person on the line. Johnny wasn't paying too much attention until he heard the name Madonna.

"I'm delivering flowers to Madonna?" Johnny ran over to Kona the moment she hung up the phone.

"No, no...the order was from Madonna, not to her. Besides, she lives in England these days."

Johnny's excitement vanished as quickly as it came. Well it was still cool to be delivering flowers for Madonna.

"We're not even doing the arrangement," Kona added. "They're going to the city, so we're passing it along to another shop."

"Dang!" Johnny thought. He'd had a feeling when he started at Wellington's that he'd get to deliver flowers to some famous people, and Madonna was definitely high on his wish list of celebrities. It didn't take too long, however, before Johnny did get to make some deliveries to and from some of the famous people that hung about the Hamptons during the summer.

The first one he ever did was to a funeral. Russell Simmons ordered an arrangement sent to the wake of a friend who had passed. It wasn't too exciting, except Johnny got to write out the message from the famous record producer. "With Deepest Sympathy, Russell Simmons." Though that was nothing really, Johnny did eventually get to have some real brushes with some big stars.

There was that time when Johnny brought an anniversary arrangement to Jimmy Buffet's house in Noyac. That was pretty cool! He had like five houses on his huge property, like a little village. Candace Bergen peeked at Johnny through her window as he handed a "Congratulations on your Emmy nomination" arrangement to her housekeeper. Kelly Ripa wasn't home when Johnny brought a Mother's Day bouquet for her and her mom, but she enjoyed the flowers so much she ordered some to be sent to another Southampton couple as a thank you for dinner.

Johnny's biggest firsthand experience with a celebrity came when a magazine editor called the shop to order flowers to be sent to Billy Joel, a year round resident of Long Island. They were a thank you for a recent interview the singer had done for the magazine. As he anxiously waited for Kona to finish making it up, Johnny tried to find the address on the local map of East Hampton, which included the pretty seaside town of Sag Harbor.

Sag Harbor is unlike the rest of the towns in the Hamptons. Most residents of the town are working class people, and Johnny couldn't recall seeing any of the McMansions there that he'd seen in the rest of the Hamptons. He figured that since Billy Joel lived there, though, there had to be a street or two where some big, expensive houses existed. The address was close to the water, so Johnny kept his eye out for just such a street once he got close to the area.

As it turned out, Johnny passed the Joel residence about five times before he realized it. The house was ordinary and very unassuming, completely the opposite of what Johnny expected. Johnny was nervous as he went into the back of the van to retrieve the gift arrangement. He opened the gate to the driveway and walked up to the front door, with butterflies in his stomach. Johnny knocked on the door.

"Hi." (It was him!)

"These are for you," Johnny said, holding out the flowers.

There was no mistaking the famous singer. His deep set eyes were instantly recognizable. He was looking a little ragged, dressed in sweats and a t-shirt, and he seemed a little grumpy. "Maybe I woke him up," Johnny thought. As he opened his door a little wider to take the flowers from Johnny, two little Pugs ran out the door.

"Hey, get back here!" he yelled to the two dogs. Johnny had left the gate open and Mr. Joel was visibly agitated that they were going to run into the street. Johnny Driver quickly became Johnny on the Spot as he ran ahead of the dogs to close the gate. Crisis averted. Before Johnny could make it back to the front door, the dogs were already back in the house with Billy, and the door was shut. He didn't give Johnny a tip, and he never even said thank you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Flower Emergency

Unbeknownst to Johnny, the loss of the Robinson account was only a small part of a larger discord growing between his new friend Kona and their bosses Stewart and James. Kona was a free spirit, and never minced words whenever something bothered her. She didn't take things too seriously, especially when it came to the strange "flower emergencies" that clients would have fits over. This didn't bode well for her in the long run.

Hydrangeas are the unofficial flower of the Hamptons. During the blooming season in late July/early August, hydrangeas would line the fronts of seemingly every Hampton garden. Hamptonites not only love their hydrangea outside, but many just have to have them inside, as well, adorning their foyers, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. Rather than cut from their own gardens, however, they quite often would pay upwards of fifteen to twenty dollars per stem of the puffy flower to be included with their weekly orders from the shop. For Stewart, hydrangeas were a must each week at the flower market, and they were very profitable!

One particular week, the demand for hydrangea was unusually high. The shop was running low on them and Stewart desperately needed some for a dinner party that was upcoming. On the way to the Robinson's that Thursday, Kona was telling Johnny about the shop's own "flower emergency." Along the way, Johnny couldn't help but notice some of the beautiful specimens lining the entrances to some of the gates on Captain's Neck Rd.

"We should just come back tonight and cut some of these," Johnny suggested jokingly.

A light bulb went off in Kona's head. "That's it! After work, you and I are gonna come back and clip some. We'll wait til after dark and take some from here and some from there. No one will ever know."

"I was just joking Kona. We can't do that. We'll get caught!"

It took the rest of the day for Kona to convince Johnny to go with her on this scheme. In the end, it all went off without a hitch, and Stewart unknowingly made a little extra in profits that week. All in all, it was fun for Johnny. He wasn't used to breaking rules and got some sort of a thrill from doing something underhanded. It was the kind of thing he liked about Kona, non-conformist that she was. Eventually she confessed to the scheme and Stewart, with only a slight disapproval, let it go, but in the end it would turn out to be another nail in Kona's coffin.

Drama at the Flower Shop

Kona lived upstairs from the flower shop. The apartment was part of her contract agreement with Stewart and James. She'd get to stay there as long as she worked for Wellingtons, but it didn't take too long for some drama to surface with regards to the apartment. Kona's extracurricular activities would ultimately prove to add to her already tense relationship with James and Stewart.

It wasn't bad for Kona living in Southampton because she'd had roots there and she was by no means shy. Once the shop was closed for the day, she'd always managed to find ways of keeping herself busy, going to the local meeting places and having fun. About halfway through the summer she started dating a much younger guy, Troy. Troy was a pup, much younger than Kona at a mere 21 years of age, and her attraction to him seemed to be more physical than anything.

Apparently, Troy had also been within the sights of Kona's cousin, who also lived in Southampton. Johnny never really found out the true story of what happened, but Kona's relationship with Troy ended up into a developing war between her and her family. At the same time, Troy had had a falling out with his own family and at first only quietly moved into the apartment with Kona, but since the apartment was right upstairs, it didn't stay quiet for too long.

Read more here.