The next time you go to a sedate dinner party in old Back Bay, don't be surprised if that immaculate young man begins to proffer whispered comments on your dirty collar. He may even inform you of the dandruff on your dinner jacket. Take a good look at him before you get too embarrassed.
If he looks like a Harvard man, chances are a hundred to one that he's the mysterious prankster "Jeeves" hired by your hostess to amaze and dismay the guests. Jeeves has been an institution in the Harvard Employment bureau as long as people remember. Sometimes, on busy weekends, there are even two or three such cavorting "servants" raising havoc at affairs ranging from quiet little home dinners to giant hotel men's dinners.
"The degree to which convention is outraged is up to the hostess,' declares the little pamphlet issued by the employment office. 'I am an opportunist,' says Jeeves, who happens to live in Lowell House, 'and I grab my chances where I see them.'"
"I don't go in for the thumb-in-the-soup technique, though. That's toe coarse. My main strategy is to concentrate on individuals. That works best at small gatherings, where there isn't too much liquor being served and nobody is drunk. Then I can work up a beautiful tension between the guests and the hostess. They fell terribly sorry and embarrassed at my antics, because they imagine I'm ruining the whole evening."
Jeeves opens his campaign by nudging, winks, side remarks, or some times by just staring at "some stuffy woman," following every motion from hand to mouth. Some people go to the headwaiter and complain, if the event is large enough to merit such a sizeable staff. "Once", he said, "the headwaiter was an old actor, just dying to work something up. So I pretended I was drunk, and he fired me in front of all the guests. I left, but I kept coming back again, out one door and in another."
The size of the group determines what he will do. Large banquets are more difficult to work at, and much less effective, because the drinks flow freely and nobody cares much about some inefficient waiter.