"Patricia. Hi. It's Pat Bateman."
"Oh hi," she says. "Listen, I'm on the other line. Can I call you back?"
"Well...," I say.
"Look, it's my health club," she says. "They've screwed up my account. I'll call you back in a sec."
"Yeah," I say and hang up.
I go into the bedroom and take off what I was wearing today: a herringbone wool suit with pleated trousers by Ciorgio Correggiari, a cotton oxford shirt by Ralph Lauren, a knit tie from Paul Stuart and suede shoes from Cole-Haan. I slip on a pair of sixty-dollar boxer shorts I bought at Barney's and do some stretching exercises, holding the phone, waiting for Patricia to call back. After ten minutes of stretching, the phone rings and I wait six rings to answer it.
"Hi," she says. "It's me, Patricia."
"Could you hold on? I've got another call."
"Oh sure," she says.
I put her on hold for two minutes, then get back on the line. "Hi," I say. "Sorry."
"So. Dinner," I say. "Stop by my place around eight?"
"Well, that's what I wanted to talk to you about," she says slowly.
"Oh no," I moan. "What is it?"
"Well, see, it's like this," she begins. "There's this concert at Radio City and - "
"No, no, no," I tell her adamantly. "No music."
"But my ex-boyfriend, this keyboardist from Sarah Lawrence, he's in the backup band and - " She stops, as if she has already decided to protest my decision.
"No. Uh-uh, Patricia," I tell her firmly, thinking to myself: Damnit, why this problem, why tonight?
"Oh Patrick," she whines into the phone. "It'll be so much fun."
I am now fairly sure that the odds of having sex with Patricia this evening are quite good, but not if we attend a concert in which an ex-boyfriend (there is no such thing with Patricia) is in the backup band.
"I don't like concerts," I tell her, walking into the kitchen. I open the refrigerator and take out a liter of Evian. "I don't like concerts," I say again. "I don't like 'live' music."
"But this one isn't like the others." She lamely adds, "We have good seats."
"Listen. There's no need to argue," I say. "If you want to go, go. "
"But I thought we were going to be togeth er," she says, straining for emotion. "I thought we were going to have dinner," and then, almost definitely an afterthought, "Be together. The two of us."
"I know, I know," I say. "Listen, we should all be allowed to do exactly what we want to do. I want you to do what you want to do."
She pauses and tries a new angle. "Mis music is so beautiful, so... I know it sounds corny, but it's... glorious. The band is one of the best you'll ever see. They're funny and wonderful and the music is so great and, oh gosh, I just want you to see them so badly. We'll have a great time, I guarantee it," she says with dripping earnestness.
"No, no, you go," I say. "You have a good time."
"Patrick," she says. "I have two tickets."
"No. I don't like concerts," I say. "Live music bugs me."
"Well," she says and her voice sounds genuinely tinged with maybe real disappointment, "I'll feel bad that you're not there with me."
"I say go and have a good time." I unscrew the cap off the Evian bottle, timing my next move. "Don't worry. I'll just go to Dorsia alone then. It's okay."
There is a very long pause that I am able to translate into: Uh-huh, right, now see if you want to go to that lousy f**king concert. I take a large gulp of Evian, waiting for her to tell me what time she'll be over.
"Dorsia?" she asks and then, suspiciously, "You have reservations there? I mean for us?"
"Yes" I say, "Eight-thirty,"
"Well..." She emits a little laugh and then, faltering, "It was... well, what I mean is, I've seen them. I just wanted you to see them."
"Listen. What are you doing?" I ask. "If you're not coming I have to call someone else. Do you have Emily Hamilton's number?"
"Oh now now, Patrick, don't be... rash." She giggles nervously. "They are playing two more nights so I can see them tomorrow. Listen, calm down, okay?"
"Okay," I say. "I'm calm."