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.

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