"Don't tempt me," I warn her, then looking back at Farrell I mutter, "What a creep."
"Oh my god, Patrick. You have no right to be so embittered," Evelyn says angrily, still staring into her menu. "Your animosity is grounded on nothing. There must be something really the matter with you."
"Look at his suit," I point out, unable to help myself. "Look at what he's wearing."
"Oh so what, Patrick." She turns a page, finds it has nothing on it and turns back to the page she was previously studying.
"Hasn't it occurred to him that his suit might inspire loathing?" I ask.
"Patrick you are being a lunatic," she says, shaking her head, now looking over the wine list.
"Goddamnit, Evelyn. What do you mean, being?" I say. "I f**king am one."
"Must you be so militant about it?" she asks.
"I don't know." I shrug.
"Anyway, I was going to tell you what happened to Melania and Taylor and..." She notices something and in the same sentence adds, sighing, "...stop looking at my chest, Patrick. Look at me, not my chest. Now anyway, Taylor Grassgreen and Melania were... You know Melania, she went to Sweet Briar. Her father owns all those banks in Dallas? And Taylor went to Cornell. Anyway, they were supposed to meet at the Cornell Club and then they had a reservation at Mondrian at seven and he was wearing..." She stops, retraces. "No. Le Cygne. They were going to Le Cygne and Taylor was..." She stops again. "Oh god, it was Mondrian. Mondrian at seven and he was wearing a Piero Dimitri suit. Melania had been shopping. I think she'd been to Bergdorf's, though I'm not positive - but anyway, oh yes... it was Bergdorf's because she was wearing the scarf at the office the other day, so anyway, she hadn't been to her aerobics class for something like two days and they were mugged on one of - "
"Waiter?" I call to someone passing by. "Another drink? J&B?" I point to the glass, upset that I phrased it as a question rather than a command.
"Don't you want to find out what happened?" Evelyn asks, displeased.
"With bated breath," I sigh, totally uninterested. "I can hardly wait."
"Anyway, the most amusing thing happened," she starts.
I am absorbing what you are saying to me, I'm thinking. I notice her lack of carnality and for the first time it taunts me. Before, it was what attracted me to Evelyn. Now its absence upsets me, seems sinister, fills me with a nameless dread. At our last session - yesterday, in fact - the psychiatrist I've been seeing for the past two months asked, "What method of contraception do you and Evelyn use?" and I sighed before answering, my eyes fixed out the window on a skyscraper, then at the painting above the Turchin glass coffee table, a giant visual reproduction of a graphic equalizer by another artist, not Onica. "Her job." When he asked about her preferred sexual act, I told him, completely serious, "Foreclosure." Dimly aware that if it weren't for the people in the restaurant I would take the jade chopsticks sitting on the table and push them deep into Evelyn's eyes and snap them in two, I nod, pretending to listen, but I've already phased out and I don't do the chopsticks thing. Instead I order a bottle of the Chassagne Montrachet.
"Isn't that amusing?" Evelyn asks.
Casually laughing along with her, the sounds coming out of my mouth loaded with scorn, I admit, "Riotous." I say it suddenly, blankly. My gaze traces the line of women at the bar. Are there any I'd like to f**k? Probably. The long-legged hardbody sipping a kir on the last stool? Perhaps. Evelyn is agonizing between the mache raisin and gumbo salade or the gratinized beet, hazelnut, baby greens and endive salad and I suddenly feel like I've been pumped full of clonopin, which is an anticonvulsive, but it wasn't doing any good.
"Christ, twenty dollars for a f**king egg roll?" I mutter, studying the menu.
'It's a moo shu custard, lightly grilled," she says.
"It's a f**king egg roll," I protest.
To which Evelyn replies, "You're so cultivated, Patrick."
"No." I shrug. "Just reasonable."
"I'm desperate for some Beluga," she says. "Honey?"
"No," I say.
"Why not?" she asks, pputing.
"Because I don't want anything out of a can or that's Iranian," I sigh.
She sniffs haughtily and looks back at the menu. "The moo foo jambalaya is really first-rate," I hear her say.
The minutes tick by. We order. The meal arrives. Typically, the plate is massive, white porcelain; two pieces of blackened yellowtail sashimi with ginger lie in the middle, surrounded by tiny dots of wasabi, which is circled by a minuscule amount of hijiki, and on top of the plate sits one lone baby prawn; another one, even smaller, lies curled on the bottom, which confuses me since I thought this was primarily a Chinese restaurant. I stare at the plate for a long time and when I ask for some water, our waiter reappears with a pepper shaker instead and insists on hanging around our table, constantly asking us at five-minute intervals if we'd like "some pepper, perhaps?" or "more pepper?" and once the fool moves over to another booth, whose occupants, I can see out of the corner of my eye, both cover their plates with their hands, I wave the maitre d' over and ask him, "Could you please tell the waiter with the pepper shaker to stop hovering over our table? We don't want pepper. We haven't ordered anything that needs pepper. No pepper. Tell him to get lost.-