I smile, raising my eyebrows at McDermott, who sullenly takes the seat next to mine. He sighs and opens the newspaper, silently reading. Since he hasn't offered a "hello" or "good morning" I can tell that he's pissed off and I suspect that it has something to do with me. Finally, sensing that Luis is about to ask something, I turn to McDermott.
"So, McDermott, what's wrong?" I smirk. "Long line at the Stairmaster this morning?"
"Who said anything's wrong?" he asks, sniffing, turning pages in the Financial Times.
"Listen," I tell him, leaning in, "I already apologized about yelling at you because of the pizza at Pastels the other night."
"Who said it was about that?" he asks tensely.
"I thought we already cleared this up," I whisper, gripping the arm of his chair, smiling over at Thompson. "I'm sorry I insulted the pizzas at Pastels. Happy?"
"Who said it's about that?" he asks again.
"Then what is it, McDermott?" I whisper, noticing movement behind me. I count to three then whirl around, catching Luis leaning toward me trying to eavesdrop. He knows he's been caught and he sinks slowly back into his chair, guilty.
"McDermott, this is ridiculous," I whisper. "You can't stay angry at me because I think the pizza at Pastels is... crusty."
"Brittle," he says, shooting me a glance. "The word you used was brittle."
"I apologize," I say. "But I'm right. It is. You read the review in the Times, right?"
"Here." He reaches into his pocket and hands me a Xeroxed article. "I just wanted to prove you wrong. Read this."
"What is it?" I ask, opening the folded page.
"It's an article on your hero, Donald Trump." McDermott grins.
"It sure is," I say apprehensively. "Why didn't I ever see this, I wonder."
"And..." McDermott scans the article and points an accusatory finger at the bottom paragraph, which he's highlighted in red ink. "Where does Donald Trump think the best pizza in Manhattan is served?"
"Let me read this," I sigh, waving him away. "You might be wrong. What a lousy photo."
"Bateman. Look. I circled it," he says.
I pretend to read the f**king article but I'm getting very angry and I have to hand the article back to McDermott and ask, thoroughly annoyed, "So what? What does it mean? What are you, McDermott, trying to tell me?"
"What do you think of the pizza at Pastels now, Bateman?" he asks smugly.
"Well," I say, choosing my words carefully. "I think I have to go back and re taste the pizza...." I'm saying this through gritted teeth. "I'm just suggesting that the last time I was there the pizza was..."
"Brittle?" McDermott offers.
"Yeah." I shrug. "Brittle."
"Uh-huh." McDermott smiles, triumphant.
"Listen, if the pizza at Pastels is okay with Donny," I start, hating to admit this to McDermott, then sighing, almost unintelligibly, "it's okay with me."
McDermott cackles gleefully, a victor.
I count three silk-crepe ties, one Versace silk-satin woven tie, two silk foulard ties, one silk Kenzo, two silk jacquard ties. The fragrances of Xeryus and Tuscany and Armani and Obsession and Polo and Grey Flannel and even Antaeus mingle, wafting into each other, rising from the suits and into the air, forming their own mixture: a cold, sickening perfume.
"But I'm not apologizing," I warn McDermott.
"You already have, Bateman," he says.
Paul Owen walks in wearing a cashmere one-button sports jacket, tropical wool flannel slacks, a button-down tab-collared shirt by Ronaldus Shamask, but it's really the tie - blue and black and red and yellow bold stripes from Andrew Fezza by Zanzarra - that impresses me. Carruthers gets excited too, and he leans into my chair and asks, if I'm listening correctly, "Do you think he has a power jock strap to go along with that thing?" When I don't answer he retreats, opens one of the Sports Illustriated s that sit in the middle of the table and, humming to himself, starts to read an article on Olympic divers.
"Hello, Halberstam," Owen says, walking by.
"Hello, Owen," I say, admiring the way he's styled and slicked back his hair, with a part so even and sharp it... devastates me and I make a mental note to ask him where he purchases his hair-care products, which kind of mousse he uses, my final guess after mulling over the possibilities being Ten -X.