Supper-Time Ceremony

by Bryan Edenfield

Originally produced for the Foolish Oracle Variety Show at Bulldog News on April 1st, 2023 by Ilsa Olsen and Bryan Edenfield.

Supper-Time Ceremony

A CUSTOMER sits at a table, waiting patiently. The SERVANT approaches.

SERVANT: Welcome! I’m so very happy to see you here. You’re in for a treat. 

CUSTOMER: [Nodding eagerly] Thank you. I’m really looking forward to this.

SERVANT: As you should be. Now first, I’ll be placing a napkin in your lap.


The SERVANT begins placing the napkin from their pocket into the CUSTOMER’s lap. As with clowns and birthday-party magicians, this napkin does not seem to end. As they continue to fold it onto the CUSTOMER’s lap, they speak. 

SERVANT: So, are you from around here?

CUSTOMER: [Flummoxed by napkin] No…

SERVANT: Well, this’ll be somewhat new to you, then. See, we operate according to the ancient supper-time rules of our colonial ancestors. They were a very high class sort with many unusual customs. We seek to emulate their supper-time experience, so that it can be experienced by lowly middle class folks like yourself! Tell me, friend, where you coming from today? 

CUSTOMER: I’m just on vacation—

SERVANT: Delightful. [Finally finishing napkin]. Well, now that that’s settled, I’ll be right back with your first course.

The SERVANT walks away. The CUSTOMER sits, slightly befuddled still, fiddling with excess napkin.

CUSTOMER: [mumbling to self] I’m not really middle class…

The SERVANT returns, holding an invisible tray. They begin to set various items onto the table from the tray. The CUSTOMER can see no objects, only gestures. Likely the audience sees this too.

CUSTOMER: Um. Is this part of the experience?

SERVANT: [Arranging invisible cutlery] That’s a silly question. Stop being so silly. You’re experiencing it, aren’t you? [Laughing gently]. Now, I bet you’re wondering: have I lost my marbles? Or are all these dishes invisible? [The SERVANT finishes, stands straight, with excellent posture] See, long ago, our aristocratic ancestors felt eating food to be rather animalistic. So they didn’t do it! For nutrients, they had their daily juice blends, consumed in a dark room created explicitly for juice drinking, Like a confessional booth, here meant to hide the vile act of consuming liquified foodstuffs from the watchful eyes of a very debonair god.


SERVANT: Supper-time became a highly ritualized time, not for eating, but for enacting a kind of supper-time ambiance and psychic offering to the god of good etiquette. One could consider both a form of worship, and a sensual pastime.

CUSTOMER: Sensual?

SERVANT: Of or Pertaining to The Senses. What does sensual mean to you?

CUSTOMER: But not the sense of taste?

SERVANT: Oh no. Only civilized senses stimulated. Do not ever stimulate the purely animal senses, lest one be consumed by animal sensations and animal desires. [Laughs lightly] Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go get the rope.


The SERVANT leaves. The CUSTOMER worries, wringing the napkin.

CUSTOMER:The website didn’t say anything about rope. Maybe it’s for some kind of lasso act? [Distracted by the table, CUSTOMER begins fiddling with invisible dishes] I didn’t save for three months for this, did I? Dammit, Sam. Why must you be consumed by these uppercrust aspirations! This desire to act above your station is going to be the death of you! I should learn to enjoy the dirt and toil fated to my people.

The SERVANT returns with rope.

SERVANT: Here’s your rope.

CUSTOMER: [Taking rope] What do I do with this? Will I be fed in any way at all? I came here on an empty stomach… or are you going to be feeding me to

SERVANT: Don’t worry, dinner will be served to you! We’re not aliens. The rope’s symbolic.


SERVANT: [Winking] You’ll see.

The SERVANT walks behind the CUSTOMER, which makes the CUSTOMER uncomfortable. The SERVANT takes the CUSTOMER’s arms.

CUSTOMER: Hey! Uh. What are you doing?

SERVANT: Don’t worry. I’ll be guiding your arms through a series of very specific ritual motions meant to signify The Eating of The Meats.

The SERVANT manipulates the CUSTOMER’s arms and hands, simulating the eating of, say, a steak.

CUSTOMER: Uh. Um. [Mimes eating] Well, yeah it’s good. I guess. I don’t know. [Still eating] I’m not really into meat. [Eating] I’m vegetarian.

The SERVANT stops. Stands straight. 



Suddenly disgruntled, or perhaps afraid, the SERVANT throws the CUSTOMER to the floor.

SERVANT: [Angry] Get out!

CUSTOMER: [Alarmed, on the ground] I.. I… I.. paid for this?

SERVANT: [Making a big show] We can’t serve you here! [Eying surroundings, leaning to CUSTOMER’s level, still speaking loudly] I’ll help you up so you can leave. But know: You are not welcome here! Banned for life! [Leaning closer to CUSTOMER, whispering] For your own sake, go. I’m doing you a favor.[Pulling the CUSTOMER up, shoving them lightly.] Out, riffraff! You and your insinuations can leave. Let memory of this event never take shape on thine lips! [Leaning, whispering] Don’t mention this to anyone, or things’ll get real weird.


SERVANT: [Leaning, whispering, eying perimeter] People follow you. Make you feel crazy. Tie strings to your limbs. They brainwash you, with weird little symbols. They tell you memorize. And you do. We all do. But you don’t have to. Be free. You can break down walls.[Loudly, performatively] Be gone, urchin!

CUSTOMER: [Stumbling, confused]I’m still hungry.

The CUSTOMER leaves. 



Supper-Time Ceremony © 2023 by Bryan Edenfield is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International 

Published by Bryan Edenfield

Author, Mistake