'They Don't Have a Good Bathroom to Do Coke In'
American Psycho—Chapter Four
This chapter begins with one of the most beautiful sentences that I’ve ever read, “I’m positive we won’t get seated (at Pastels) but the table is good, and relief that is almost tidal in scope washes over me in an awesome wave.” This being Bateman’s narrative I am reminded of his extensive intellect, an aspect of his character that I believe often goes forgotten. His sizable relief is due to not being turned away from one of New York’s bar scenes, which I imagine is much like one of Ellis’ socialite’s own personal Holocausts. Quite ridiculous to you and I, I know.
We learn that it was McDermott that secured the reservation ‘only minutes’ earlier from a cab to the bar. Price’s erratic nature resurfaces in frustration at the realisation that nobody had initially made a reservation for the evening. Price decided to ‘[slip] his Walkman on and [turn] up the volume so loud that the sound of Vivaldi was audible even with the windows halfway open and the noise of the uptown traffic blasting into the taxi.’ Now, this is extremely loud. For the other guys to hear it even with the windows open must mean the music was dangerously deafening. Perhaps Price is that vacant and hollow that it simply doesn’t hurt or even register with him. Alternatively, he might’ve just become accustomed to the New York nightlife; a part of the world where the volume always resides at a booming 10.
Quite a significant character of this chapter goes to the waitresses of Pastels, who are all given no name yet are referred to in the same manner as each other. Bateman and his associates all use the term ‘hardbody’ in a derogatory and dehumanising way, quite fitting with preceding examples of how women are talked about in this novel so far. It is unclear as to whether or not there was one waitress or numerous as every time a waitress approaches Bateman’s table they are simply referred to as ‘hardbody’. I think it is highly possible that either there was only one waitress and Bateman looked through her so easily that he thought it was someone different every time, or there were several different waitresses and they all blended together in Bateman’s male head. I’d quite happily go along with either of those options and that is sickening.
Bateman’s male ego takes centre stage in this chapter on multiple occasions, an element of his character that I think can only grow the more I read. ‘The hardbody waitress…who I’m fairly sure is flirting with me, laughs sexily when I order.’ This is a clear example of a man taking any woman’s attention directed at him, no matter how brief or insincere as a sign that she wants him. In an effort to convince us as readers that she of course isn’t interested, Ellis writes later on that the waitress ‘flinches’ when Bateman ‘[pulls] her towards [him]’. Bateman soon forgets her trepidation of him after he smiles and she relaxes somewhat.
Later in this chapter, Bateman, McDermott, Price and Van Patten compare business cards; the cornerstone of every socialite ‘friendship’. Bateman’s is under inspection first, whipping it out at the first opportunity. This seems like a cry for attention almost childlike. In my head it mimics a child showing his parents what they’ve drawn but in this case, it’s laced with designer luxury. When Van Patten references the colouring of Bateman’s business card, he tells him: ‘That’s bone’. This is quite sinister to me, that Bateman had an affinity with the colour of bone when choosing the design of this card reminds us of the Ted Bundy reference made towards him in the chapter prior. All of the men’s reactions to each of the cards on display that aren’t theirs are made ‘guardedly’ or with a ‘croak’. None of the men want to be outdone by something as innocuous as a business card. These men are boys.
A fleeting character of this chapter is Montgomery, a typical socialite that spends no more than a minute with our principle characters yet he remains on their minds for the majority of the evening in Pastels. The reason he sticks in their thoughts is because he has ‘a repulsive amount of dough.’ I find it hard to believe that these men find ‘eight hundred million’ dollars ‘repulsive’. This all smells to me. The only thing about Montgomery’s money that these guys find repulsive or distasteful is the fact that it’s not theirs. Again, another sign of the fragile male ego.
What a bunch of fucking pussies.