On another day, Bateman is back with Price on their way to meet their two other friends, Craig McDermott and David Van Patten, for drinks at Harry’s. When they arrive, McDermott begins quizzing Bateman on proper shoe etiquette. Across the room, Bateman sees Luis Carruthers standing at the bar, and thinks he sees him blush at him. He describes how Luis, it seems, is never able to get a bartender to take his order.
Bateman and his friends spend much of their time drinking and discussing appropriate fashions. Many in their exclusive group look down upon Luis Carruthers because he doesn’t carry himself with the same confident, masculine air as the rest of the men; he can’t even command the respect of a bartender.
The four friends continue quizzing one another on style, saying that they’re going to send their questions into GQ magazine, before Van Patten pulls out his Zagat restaurant guide to help them decide where to go for dinner. After dinner, they plan to stop by Tunnel nightclub. McDermott tells a story of the last time he was there and the very attractive woman he took home to have sex with, despite his having a girlfriend. The girl (a Vassar girl), who McDermott had gotten very drunk, would only give him a hand job, he complains, and insisted on keeping her gloves on. Price brings up AIDS, though Van Patten insists that as white men, their chances of contracting the new disease are nearly zero. Another colleague of theirs, Preston, comes over to the table, giving his regrets for dinner and contributing another question (this one about tuxedo shirts) to their list to send to GQ.
If they’re not talking about clothing, Bateman and his friends are either talking about where they’re going out for dinner or attractive women they have had or plan to have sex with. They view these women as objects – tools for their pleasure, to be used as they desire. And so these women must be “designer” just like the products the men buy: they must be beautiful and of a certain social status. Meanwhile, as the men’s conversation about AIDS shows, the men believe that their wealth, privilege, race, and position in society make them more valuable than all others, and, thus invincible to things that affect “regular people.”
The men start to look around the room, surveying to see who else is in attendance. They argue over the identity of one man, who Price refers to as “one of those young British faggots,” judge the clothing choices of the other bar-goers, and eventually spot Paul Owen, another banker, who is “handling the Fisher account.” The men are all envious of this. Preston starts making anti-Semitic remarks at Owen’s expense, but Bateman shuts him down, claiming to be “the voice of reason” in the group of friends. They all start to jokingly (but harshly) ridicule one another until Preston announces that he has a joke to share. While he’s telling the joke, though, he realizes he’s forgotten the punch line and has to fumble his way through – the others jeer him. Meanwhile, Luis Carruthers is still standing at the bar, waiting to be served.
Bateman and his friends often mistake people for other people and spend time arguing over the identities of those they see around town, highlighting how monotonous and similar their lives and even their appearances really are, though those external things are all they focus on. In fact, their emphasis on external as opposed to internal things is what makes them indistinguishable from each other: none of them has a unique internal core. This idea of mistaken identity among Wall Street bankers will become even more important as the book progresses, particularly in reference to Paul Owen. For now, Bateman and his friends envy Owen, whose exclusive account at work seems to make him more valuable than they are. Meanwhile, the “friends” all jockey for dominance among each other.
Eventually Preston remembers the punch line to his joke; it is unfunny and racist, and Bateman calls it out as such. When he does, though, his friends mock him for being uptight and politically correct. Preston excuses himself and the men prepare to go to dinner.
Bateman maintains his front of respectability very intently, even when he is amongst his circle of “closest” friends. As was the case at Evelyn’s dinner, though, Bateman’s reprimand is likely more a show of dominance than of Bateman’s true values, and his “friends” show their dominance in turn by mocking him.