"Oh Christ, Bateman," Hamlin groans. "What does that mean?"
"What?" I say. "She does."
"So what? It's all looks. Laurie Kennedy is a babe," Hamlin says, emphatically. "Don't even pretend you were interested for any other reason."
"If they have a good personality then... something is very wrong," Reeves says, somehow confused by his own statement.
"If they have a good personality and they are not great-looking" - Reeves holds his hands up, signifying something - "who f**king cares?"
"Well, let's just say hypothetically, okay? What if they have a good personality?" I ask, knowing full well what a hopeless, asinine question it is.
"Fine. Hypo thetically even better but - " Hamlin says.
"I know, I know." I smile.
"There are no girls with good personalities," we all say in unison, laughing, giving each other high-five.
"A good personality," Reeves begins, "consists of a chick who has a little hardbody and who will satisfy all sexual demands without being too slutty about things and who will essentially keep her dumb f**king mouth shut."
"Listen," Hamlin says, nodding in agreement. "The only girls with good personalities who are smart or maybe funny or halfway intelligent or even talented - though god knows what the f**k that means - are ugly chicks."
"Absolutely." Reeves nods.
"And this is because they have to make up for how f**king unattractive they are," Hamlin says, sitting back in his chair.
"Well, my theory's always been," I start, "men are only here to procreate, to carry on the species, you know?"
They both nod.
"And so the only way to do that," I continue, choosing words carefully, "is... to get turned on by a little hardbody, but sometimes money or fame "
"No buts," Hamlin says, interrupting. "Bateman, are you telling me that you're gonna make it with Oprah Winfrey - hey, she's rich, she's powerful - or go down on Nell Carter - hey, she's got a show on Broadway, a great voice, residuals pouring in?"
"Wait," Reeves says. "Who is Nell Carter?"
"I don't know," I say, confused by the name. "She owns Nell's, I guess."
"Listen to me, Bateman," Hamlin says. "The only reason chicks exist is to get us turned on, like you said. Survival of the species, right? It's as simple" - he lifts an olive out of his drink and pops it into his mouth - "as that."
After a deliberate pause I say, "Do you know what Ed Gein said about women?"
"Ed Gein?" one of them asks. "Maitre d' at Canal Bar?"
"No," I say, "Serial killer, Wisconsin in the fifties. He was an interesting guy."
"You've always been interested in stuff like that, Bateman," Reeves says, and then to Hamlin, "Bateman reads these biographies all the time: Ted Bundy and Son of Sam and Fatal Vision and Charlie Manson. All of them."
"So what did Ed say?" Hamlin asks, interested.
"He said," I begin, " 'When I see a pretty girl walking down the street I think two things. One part of me wants to take her out and talk to her and be real nice and sweet and treat her right.'" I stop, finish my J&B in one swallow.
"What does the other part of him think?" Hamlin asks tentatively.
"What her head would look like on a stick," I say.
Hamlin and Reeves look at each other and then back at me before I start laughing, and then the two of them uneasily join in.
"Listen, what about dinner?" I say, casually changing subjects.
"How about that Indian-Californian place on the Upper West Side?" Hamlin suggests.
"Fine with me," I say.
"Sounds good," Reeves says.
"Who'll make the rez?" Hamlin asks.
Courtney Lawrence invites me out to dinner on Monday night and the invitation seems vaguely sexual so I accept, but part of the catch is that we have to endure dinner with two Camden graduates, Scott and Anne Smiley, at a new restaurant they chose on Columbus called Deck Chairs, a place I had my secretary research so thoroughly that she presented me with three alternative menus of what I should order before I left the office today. The things that Courtney told me about Scott and Anne - he works at an advertising agency, she opens restaurants with her father's money, most recently 1968 on the Upper East Side - on the interminable cab ride uptown was only slightly less interesting than hearing about Courtney's day: facial at Elizabeth Arden, buying kitchen utensils at the Pottery Barn (all of this, by the way, on lithium) before coming down to Harry's where we had drinks with Charles Murphy and Rusty Webster, and where Courtney forgot the bag of Pottery Barn utensils she'd put underneath our table. The only detail of Scott and Anne's life that seems even remotely suggestive to me is that they adopted a Korean boy of thirteen the year after they married, named him Scott Jr. and sent him to Exeter, where Scott had gone to school four years before I attended.