Bateman has plans for dinner with McDermott and Hamlin. They’re on the phone discussing where they want to go and having a number of disagreements about it, all refusing to go to the places the others want to go. McDermott tells Bateman that Hamlin wants to bring Luis Carruthers along, and Bateman squarely refuses; Luis absolutely may not come to dinner. They have reservations at a place called 1500, but now want to go to Zeus Bar. Someone has to cancel one reservation and make the other, and McDermott volunteers.
This chapter is one of the novel’s most confusing, for both the reader and characters alike. It begins like a typical night, with Bateman and his friends discussing dinner reservations and Bateman completely averse to even the notion of Luis Carruthers.
Bateman gets another call; it’s Jeannette, upset that Bateman stood her up the night before. To make peace, he invites her to join them for dinner at Zeus Bar. Over on the other line, McDermott has made them a reservation at Kaktus – Zeus Bar was full. Regardless, they’re still arguing confusedly over where they’ll go and when and which reservations they still have to cancel. Hamlin gets off the line, planning to meet them at Kaktus at 9, and Van Patten beeps in, asking Bateman about cummerbunds (an accessory that can be worn with a tuxedo).
In typical fashion, Bateman attempts to buy favor with Jeannette by inviting her to a fancy dinner. Also typical: it works. The back and forth between Bateman and his friends over where they will eat dinner is only beginning to reach the level of complication and confusion it will rise to by the end of the chapter.
While on the phone, Bateman is watching a new rat that he’s bought and poisoned drag itself around a Habitrail rat cage. He gets another call; it’s Evelyn, who wants to see him. He lies and says he’s having dinner alone, but Evelyn already knows his plans because Hamlin’s girlfriend has told her. Back on the line with the men, Bateman curses Hamlin out and declares that no women are welcome at dinner. Bateman switches back over to Evelyn and now tells her to meet him and the guys at Zeus Bar at 9:30. Bateman then calls Hamlin’s girlfriend, attempting to convince her to invite Evelyn to dinner so the men can have their own night. She isn’t convinced.
Bateman has little concern for the multiple women he’s dating. He doesn’t feel bad for standing up Jeannette and will go on to invite both her and Evelyn to the same dinner. The play-by-play of this whole conversation, especially the clichéd moment when the men’s girlfriends ruin their plans by conferring behind their backs, is comical, but it also serves another purpose. This incredibly confusing chapter greatly destabilizes the reader, again creating a sense of unreality or unreliability.
Back on the line with McDermott and Van Patten, Bateman is exasperated. McDermott gets off the call and Van Patten suggests that they, again, change the reservation, though neither he nor Bateman have kept track of how many people and what time it should be for. Van Patten leaves and McDermott kicks back in. An hour passes as they debate restaurants and reservations, and now Bateman has no way of reaching Jeannette and can’t remember which restaurant he told Evelyn to go to. Van Patten returns and starts asking about Donald Kimball, the detective looking into Paul Owen’s disappearance. It’s now after 10, and the restaurants they wanted to go to are closed or not accepting reservations; they’ve even cancelled their non-existent reservation at Zeus Bar. It is a confusing mess.
The confusion of this chapter, for both reader and character alike, continues, though the characters seem to be entirely unbothered by the chaos of their conversations.
Bateman suddenly gets another call: it must be one of the girls. It’s Evelyn, furious, stranded at Kaktus with a woman named Jeannette who is also there to meet her boyfriend. Bateman assures her that he’ll be there shortly and to just relax, and then switches back over to the line with McDermott and Van Patten. Bateman starts talking about driving lead pipes into women’s vaginas, but his friends make nothing of it, suggesting that they just go out in search of some drugs. Bateman, his mind a blur, agrees.
For most people, an accidental meeting of their significant other and the one with whom they’re cheating on them would be terrible and something to avoid, but for Bateman, his relationships are all so shallow that he could care less. Once again here, Bateman discusses his love of violent acts openly with his friends, any they pay him absolutely no mind. (Which again calls into question whether he actually said these things aloud at all.)