Read CHAPTER IX - THE CITY BACHELOR AS HOST of The Complete Bachelor Manners for Men , free online book, by Walter Germain, on

The bachelor who entertains is a most popular member of society. It does not cost a fortune to return in some manner the civilities once received, and every man, even if his income be limited, can once in a while entertain, even if it be on a very small scale and in a very modest way. Bachelor functions are always enjoyable. For a host of moderate income, I would suggest a luncheon, a dinner, or a party to the play, followed by a little supper.

A bachelor luncheon can be given either at the host’s apartments or chambers, at a restaurant, or in the ladies’ annex of his club, if that organization possesses such an institution.

At all entertainments given under a bachelor’s vine and fig tree, extreme simplicity should be a characteristic. The table linen should be of the finest damask, or the best material his income will allow; the glass perfectly plain, clear crystal, the china of a rich but quiet pattern, the silver good but absolutely without ornamental devices of any kind. In fact, the silver can be limited to forks and spoons, and the rest Sheffield or prince’s plate. Silver is not expensive, but plate is considered quite smart, and it has the advantage of being utterly valueless from the burglar’s point of view.

Individual salt and pepper affairs, cut or colored glass, or the hundred and one knick-knacks which one sees advertised and which eventually find their way to the boarding-house table, are vulgar.

Before your cloth is laid you should have a cover of felt placed over the table, so as to form a shield between it and the damask or linen. In the center goes a silver or plated fernery, filled with ferns and asparagus vines, on a mirror tray, or an epergne with fruit. Two heavy, old-fashioned decanters in Queen Anne coasters should be placed, one at your right and the other at the right of your vis-a-vis. These contain sherry and claret. Four plain silver, plated, or china dishes are at the corners with salted almonds, olives, bonbons, and fancy cakes. If you wish to be very effective and have the money to spare, it is smart at a dinner to have silver candlesticks with candles or tiny lamps gleaming behind red or pink shades at each cover. Two or three forks are laid at the left of each plate. If more are required, your servant will replace them. On the right of the plate are the knives, including one for the roast, with the tablespoon for the soup, if it is a dinner, and the oyster fork. The napkins should be plain and flat, and contain a roll of bread. These hints for arranging the table will do for either luncheon or dinner. Not one of the articles is in itself expensive, and you may possess them all with the accumulation of years. If not, a simpler arrangement could be effected, or you could give the entertainment at a restaurant instead of your rooms or house. The invitations can be either verbal or written, but at best a luncheon or dinner in a bachelor’s apartments is regarded as a little frolic, and you must try to preserve the spirit and waive the formalities.

A chaperon, of course, is necessary. The party can be limited to about eight. If you have a manservant he should be dressed in black coat and trousers, white shirt, standing collar and tie, and liveried waistcoat. His duties are to open the door and to serve the luncheon. But a manservant is not necessary. Some of the smartest bachelors in New York give delightful little dinners and luncheons at their apartments, at which the maid who has cooked the meal, dressed in white apron and black gown, also serves it.

The menu should be the usual one expected at luncheons, but champagne is never offered by a man to women in his apartments, unless at dinner or a theater supper. If a wealthy bachelor has a large house, and instead of one there are a number of matrons chaperoning, the case is different. Manhattan or Martini cocktails could be passed around before luncheon, or some little peculiar dish be served to give a zest to the occasion.

A bachelor’s dinner at his house or apartments is a more formal entertainment, but it differs in nowise from a regular function of that character. The chaperon takes the place of the lady of the house for that occasion. Dressing rooms are arranged for the men and women, and the same ceremonies observed as at any formal dinner. If the affair is given in apartments, of course the character must be more or less informal, as the accommodations are limited. Should you have a man serve at your dinner, he must be in evening dress. Both at dinner and at luncheon he must have gloves, but this is not required of a maid.

A bachelor’s supper in his own apartments is sometimes given after the play. Of the menu, I will speak a little farther on. A chafing-dish supper is, however, an unique and enjoyable entertainment. Several chafing dishes should be ready, so that each course can follow without delay. Terrapin, truffled eggs, curried oysters, and other dainties of this kind comprise usually the menu. It would be well to serve first oysters on the half shell, followed by lobster a la Newburg, the latter being the first plat cooked with the chafing dish. Champagne is a good wine, and allowable for a chafing-dish supper; but if Welsh rarebits are the chef d’oeuvre, then beer or ale would be better.

A theater party should be confined to eight or ten. A parti carre four people is delightful. Unmarried women do not go to theaters or restaurants with a man alone. They must be chaperoned, even at a matinee or a luncheon party at a hotel or restaurant in fact, an unmarried couple is seldom seen at public places in New York, unless they are engaged, and married women are as much compromised as unmarried ones by indifference to this absolute rule of etiquette.

The invitations can be either verbal or written. In the season it is better to write them, to insure the acceptance of guests. Be careful in the wording to give not only the evening, but the name of the play and the theater. For a party, always secure end seats, and there will be no disturbing of others in case you might be a little late. A box is necessary at the circus or at a music hall, but orchestra seats or stalls are the best selection for a bachelor’s party. Many mothers object to their daughters being seen at the theater in a proscenium box.

The rendezvous or meeting place should be at the chaperon’s. The vestibule of the theater is awkward, except for parties of four. A stage is the best vehicle to convey your guests to the playhouse. At the theater the host sees that his guests are provided with playbills. He gives the tickets to the usher, and precedes the party down the aisle. He indicates the order of sitting. A man should go in first, followed by the woman with whom he is to sit, and then, thus sandwiched, the rest of the party file in, the host taking the aisle or end seat. The host sits next to the chaperon. Gentlemen do not go out between the acts at the theater, but sometimes, when there is a party to the opera, they can leave their seats if other men come to visit the ladies. A man going in or out a theater aisle should do so with his face toward the stage and his back to the seat. A host never leaves his guests. After the play go a little ahead and give your carriage check to the porter as soon as possible, so that there may not be a long wait. The porter expects a small fee. All theater parties are followed by a supper given either at a restaurant, at the club, in the ladies’ annex, or at your bachelor apartments.

All luncheons, dinners, or suppers at a restaurant, unless organized on the spur of the moment, are ordered beforehand, and everything, including the waiter’s tip, arranged and settled for. If you have not an account at the restaurant, pay the bill at the time you order the menu and reserve the table. Flowers should be included, and a centerpiece of roses, which are so arranged as to come apart and be distributed in bunches to each of your fair guests, is one of the favorite devices. Small boutonnières are provided for the men. The public restaurant or dining room is the place for a bachelor supper when ladies are guests. A private room is not proper, and your guests want to see and be seen. The chaperon is seated at the right hand of the host, unless the party is given in honor of a particular woman, in which case she has that place. The chaperon is then at your left. Wraps and coats are taken off in the hall of the restaurant and checked. There is no order of entry, except that the host should precede and the others follow.

The usual menu for a theater supper is:

I. Clams or oysters on the half shell.

II. Bouillon in cups.

III. Chicken croquettes or sweetbreads with peas, or lobster a la Newburg.

IV. Terrapin or birds with salad.

V. Ices, cakes, cafe noir, bonbons.

VI. Liqueurs.

With the oysters or clams white wine is served. Champagne follows the bouillon until the end of the supper.

After supper the party usually returns to the residence of the chaperon, where the unmarried women have their maids and family escorts awaiting them. The host accompanies them to the chaperon’s house, but the other men take leave at the restaurant. The chaperon may have it arranged to have dancing at her house, in which case the party return with her after supper.

A supper in the ladies’ annex in nowise differs from this, except that you do not tip the waiter or pay the bill, but have it charged in your monthly account.

The menu for a supper at your own apartments follows the same lines as those already given.

Theater clubs are associations of women and men, all subscribing, meeting at the houses of different members, one of whom gives the supper.

Bachelors’ dances or balls are given at a large hall by a number of unmarried men, who subscribe a certain amount each. A number of well-known matrons are asked to receive the guests, and a cotillon usually follows the supper.

Impromptu lunches, dinners, or suppers at restaurants sometimes require the immediate settlement of the account. Be careful to draw from your pocketbook a bill of large denomination, and not a handful of change. Do not con over or dispute the items. If you have an account, simply sign the check. If not, it is best to give the waiter his tip and go to the desk and pay while the members of your party are getting their wraps.

Dinners at restaurants are frequently given by bachelors, and are followed by a visit to the theater. The rendezvous is either at the house of the chaperon or at the restaurant itself, should the party be limited in number.

The menu varies according to the season. Six courses, including raw oysters or clams, soup, fish, entree, roast and vegetables, birds and salad, ices and dessert, are sufficient. The form and manner of entertaining at a dinner of this kind are similar to those observed at suppers.

To a man who frequently entertains, and at a particular restaurant, an occasional tip to the head waiter would be of service. This is a word to the wise.

Card parties for the playing of whist, domino, or poker are often given by bachelors at their apartments or residences. In apartments this class of entertainment is only for men. Women should not go to bachelors’ apartments except for luncheon, dinner, or supper. In a bachelor’s house, however, any entertainment can be given. Small stakes are played for and the usual supper follows. The farewell bachelor dinner will have its proper place in the chapter on Wedding Etiquette.