The chapter begins abruptly, mid-sentence, as Bateman is standing in a phone booth. He’s experiencing a heavy anxiety attack and is rifling through his pockets for a pill – Valium, Xanax, Halcion, anything – to help him. He can’t remember where he had lunch, with whom, or what he ate, and doesn’t even know who he’s called as the phone continues to ring. On the other end of the line is Jean. He tries to have a conversation with her, struggling both to make out what she’s saying and speak for himself. They go back and forth about reservations and names and appointments before Bateman tells her to just stop sounding so sad. She apologizes and he hangs up on her.
Bateman’s mental state is beginning to deteriorate, and this is tied to his drug use. He’s experiencing anxiety (likely a result of his cocaine habit, his crimes, or a mix of both) and is using even more drugs to help control this since he’s not able to control his mind on his own. Not only is he unable to conduct business because of this, but he’s barely able to even have a conversation; the drugs are beginning to have a huge impact on his daily functioning.
Bateman continues walking up the street, relaying to the reader the stream-of-consciousness mess of his mind with barely a single period. He feels the sun melting the mousse in his hair and hears Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” playing as he stumbles past people who are handing out flyers, old women, and more. He stops in a doorway, nearly doubled over, collects himself, and runs into a nearby Potter Barn, where he purchases a set of knives. Bateman then runs into a supermarket and steals some canned ham, which he shoves into his mouth and immediately throws up. He stops to kiss the face on a “Les Misérables” poster. He passes a man who recognizes him and calls him by the wrong name, and then Bateman bumps into a Korean deli stand, sending food flying.
In his drug-induced state, Bateman begins to let go of the things he cares about most. He lets his appearance (his hair) slip, and acts embarrassingly in front of people to whom he normally would want to display an air of superiority and perfection. Gripping for normalcy, Bateman starts purchasing things; he thinks his money and spending will fix this situation like they do all others, but he ends up vomiting on the side of the street. His behavior with the “Les Mis” poster is not only strange but highlights a shift in the normal power dynamics of Bateman’s life. But not everything has changed: even in this very crazed moment, Bateman’s identity is mistaken by a colleague.
Eventually, Bateman stumbles into a deli. He tells the woman working that he has a reservation, and she just tells him to sit down. When a woman comes to take his order, he can hardly read the menu. He tried to order a cheeseburger. She tells him the deli is kosher, and doesn’t serve cheeseburgers. Bateman doesn’t understand and tries unsuccessfully to order several other items, including a milkshake, before cursing the woman out, calling her a racial slur, and stumbling out of the deli into the street. The chapter ends as it began: mid-sentence.
Bateman foolishly acts as if he’s in a fine restaurant when he’s really in a corner deli. He’s making a fool out of himself, barely able to speak, let alone understand the concept of “kosher” and order appropriate things. In his “right” mind, Bateman might play it cooler or, more likely, make anti-Semitic remarks and demands, but he is here rendered completely incapable of doing anything.