feel Johnny

kahroba

Senior Member
Persian
Dear all
What's meant by "feel Johnny" in the following context from "Manhattan Transfer" by Dos Passos:
Time: 1920s
Location: (I think) Algonquin, a luxury hotel in NY.
Ellen, now Mrs. Herf is working as an editor in a periodical where she's been quite successful like her previous carrier as a famous actress.
"...What we need on such a periodical, that I’m sure you could explain it to me far better.”

“Of course what you want to do is make every reader feel Johnny on the spot in the center of things.”
“As if she were having lunch right here at the Algonquin.”
“Not today but tomorrow.”added Ellen.
 
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  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    The expression is "Johnny on the spot" – someone ready and available at the time needed. See Phrase Finder.

    Here, the expression can be read as "... feel like (a) Johnny on the spot ..."
     

    kahroba

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks a lot dear Copyright from HK.
    The Phrase Finder says "The name Johnny does not refer to any particular person. It is just being used as a generic male name."
    If so why Ellen's companion (her boss indeed) says immediately: "As if she were having lunch right here at the Algonquin."
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Johnny may be a generic male name but Johnny on the spot can be a generic person name. I can say to a girl or woman, "My, aren't you just a little Johnny on the spot?" or "Aren't you just Ms. Johnny on the spot?" The phrase is describing behavior more than gender.

    Added: Did you notice Phrase Finder's use of "someone" in their definition: Someone ready and available at the time needed.

    Someone is gender neutral.
     
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    kahroba

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks a lot dear Copyright. Well noted.
    The magazine is a fashion periodical and that's why he uses "she" there.
    Thanks again.
     
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