the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Table Settings: A Story Pitch for a Screenplay

Do you see how white I become after three days of not shaving?

Meet Bob. He lives in Redondo Beach. He’s a…uh… an accountant… but a loveable one. Imagine a cross between Tom Hanks, Luke Wilson, and Perez Hilton. One day, his girlfriend suggests he move out. He is distraught. He turns to his friends for help, but most of his friends are female and too busy getting ready to attend AccountantHer. When he asks if he can go to AccountantHer with them, they laugh at him. No man goes to AccountantHer! This makes Bob feel even more alone. He wanders the streets until he finds himself at a County Fair.

Bob may be alone, but this photo was taken by Sophia.

At the fair, he stumbles onto something he has never heard of — the table setting competition. Different “artists” compete by creating themes for their table settings. Bob is fascinated by this unique artform. He has found his calling. He decides that HE will become THE next table setting champion of America and regain his confidence.


He tells all his friends about his new dream, and they mock him, calling him “a dreamer.” Just when Bob is about to give up, he meets Mrs. Migashi, a mild-mannered health food store owner from Torrance, California, who just happens to be a famous table setter from Kyoto, and an expert in the Japanese form of this art. Mrs. Migashi does not have a son, and has always wanted to impart her wisdom to someone worthy of her knowledge.

“Teach me everything you know,” says Bob.


Bob immediately takes to the art, creating artistic table settings based on exotic locales and scenes from movies. He is especially proud of his dessert table titled “Lord of the Ring-Dings.”

Mrs. Migashi is not impressed.

“Table setting is not about throwing random paint around, like a Jackson Pollock painting.” she slowly says, educating him. “It requires discipline. Did you know that the dinner plate MUST be exactly one inch from the edge of the table? Or that points will be deducted if the knife does not perfectly align with the center of the water glass? Do you know the correct position and direction of the dessert spoon? Did you even know there WAS a dessert spoon?”

This one might have done better than 3rd Place if the artist didn’t use The Two Buck Chuck (the two dollar Trader Joe’s wine).

“But how will I ever learn all these things about table settings?” asks Bob. “How will I ever be ready for the National Championship in Tucson, Arizona?”

“You must focus.” says Mrs. Migashi. “You must wash my dishes every night, for two months, give me foot massages every other night, and take care of all my needs whenever I make a “booty call.”

“What does this have to do with table settings?” asks Bob.

“Do not question the master!” she shouts.

Two months and many booty calls later, Bob wins the National Tablesetting Championship, and regains his confidence.


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Sex Advice for Men


  1. Rhea

    And I thought you were kidding when you said there was a table-setting competition. It’s a competition only an accountant could win.

  2. kapgar

    What in Samhail is a dessert spoon? And what the hell is wrong with Three-Buck Chuck (we get an upcharge of a dollar with the transit costs to the Midwest)?

  3. steppingoverthejunk

    Heh. HEH!

  4. tamarika

    What can *I* say? I love the white that you become after the three days of not shaving!

  5. Bre

    If Bob ever outgrows Mr. Magashi, I have a former etiquette school teacher who could surely teach him a thing or two!

  6. alissa

    I had no idea there was such a competition! And, I think your white stubble looks great.

  7. amanda

    nuff said.

  8. whoorl

    I’ve never been to the OC Fair. Fun?

  9. patois

    There is just something about your table setting that makes me so hot. Oh, right, it’s the hot sauce.

  10. Nance

    Do you really put RedHot on your corn-on-the-cob? Is that a “California Thing?”

  11. Finn

    Mmmm. Corn.

  12. LauraH

    Less is definitely more here. All of your elements are easily visible against the stark contrast of…what is that? a concrete porch step? Very nicely done. I imagine this to be a great hobby for those afflicted with OCD.

  13. Neil

    Nance — Yes, a lot of people were putting hot sauce on their corn, including Sophia. I thought it was just weird.

    Whoorl — Have you never been to any fair? You should definitely go. Bring your stroller. Let your husband win you a giant teddy bear by shooting water into a clown’s mouth! Sadly, I have bad aim, much like when I’m peeing on the toilet seat.

  14. churlita

    People actually set their tables? Next you’ll be telling me about a mythical tribe who makes their beds every morning.

  15. Postmodern Sass

    Neil, I’m not going to Accountant-her. I think it’s just plain silliness. I’m working on a screenplay. Any time you want to mosey up to San Jose and go all Good Will Hunting on me, I’d be happy to inflate the Aerobed.

  16. kanani

    Fish fork! Fish fork! Where’s the damned fishfork, Bob?

  17. melanie

    corn… mmmmm. corn on the cob… even mmmm-ier.

    Now I want to set a table. sheesh. I need a life. seriously.

  18. leahpeah

    dude – i don’t know who started this rumor that men aren’t allowed at blogher. they totally are, some show up every year and they are made out with at every panel. next year, just go.

  19. Liz R

    Neil, honey. That photo of the corns on the cob is positively, how do you say, PORNtastic. Is it just me?? Perhaps I took too much estrogen this morning. Oh well.

  20. Caron

    I’m willing to admit it. I participated in a few table setting events when I worked at a funky kitchen store in college.

  21. Alice

    i had no idea table-setting was a… i hesistate to say “sport”.. a competition? who knows what other random competitions are out there that i might be REALLY GOOD at but just don’t know about? perhaps a “tripping up stairs” competition? a “getting really tangly hair” competition? i could really rock both of those.

  22. leiselb

    Gosh I love the zany-ness of fairs. Almost as much as I love this totally random tale that made me laugh. It’s definitely ready to be pitched, I think. 😉

  23. pia

    Too funny Neil

    but, uh, my father was an accountant and I could set a perfect table for any Jewish holiday and Thanksgiving–for 40, by age 8–my biggest accomplishment. He had been a waiter in the Catskills first

  24. butterfly

    Hey Neil! Totally off topic here, but I was just wondering if people constantly ask you for your autograph because they think you are Brent Spiner aka Data from Star Trek NG???

    Perhaps, during the times that the wife “suggests” that you move out for a while — you could go on appearances / autograph-signing tours — your exile could be quite lucrative! Plus, you might get some hot Vulcan ass while on tour [total bonus!]…just a thought. 🙂 V

    P.S. Check out your separated-at-birth twin — totally rocking the white stubble at

  25. Neil

    Butterfly — I’ve been called by many names, but never “Data” from Star Trek.

    Pia — Where did he wait? Would you believe that I spend a summer waiting tables at the Catskills myself, just like in Dirty Dancing.

  26. plain jane

    My daughter entered the table setting compitition at our teeny, tiny, county fair. A picnic theme if I remember correctly.

    That is one naughty photo of corn.

  27. Shelby

    You forgot about the poor contestant who lost points for having a “long brown hair” on one of the plates. Oh the iniquity!

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