"What did Brucie baby have to say?" McDermott asks, chewing on ice.
"You're a clod. It's an excellent book. His theory remains we shouldn't feel restricted from wearing a sweater vest with a suit," I say. "Did you hear me call you a clod?"
"But doesn't he point out that a vest shouldn't overpower the suit?" Van Patten offers tentatively.
"Yes..." I'm mildly irritated that Van Patten has done his homework but asks for advice nonetheless. I calmly continue. "With discreet, pinstripes you should wear a subdued blue or charcoal gray vest. A plaid suit would call for a bolder vest."
"And remem ber," McDermott adds, "with a regular vest the last button should be left undone."
I glance sharply at McDermott. He smiles, sips his drink and then smacks his lips, satisfied.
"Why?" Van Patten wants to know.
"It's traditional," I say, still glaring at McDermott. "But it's also more comfortable."
"Will wearing suspenders help the vest sit better?" I heapr Van Patten ask.
"Why?" I ask, turning to face him.
"Well, since you avoid the..." He stops, stuck, looking for the right word.
"Encumbrance of - ?" I begin.
"The belt buckle?" McDermott finishes.
"Sure," Van Patten says.
"You have to remember - " Again I'm interrupted by McDermott.
"Remember that while the vest should be in keeping with the color and the style of the suit, completely avoid matching the vest's pattern with your socks or tie," McDermott says, smiling at me, at Van Patten.
"I thought you hadn't read this... this book," I stammer angrily. "You just told me you couldn't tell the difference between Bruce Boyer and... and John Wayne Gacy."
"It came back to me." He shrugs.
"Listen." I turn back to Van Patten, finding McDermott's one-upmanship totally cheap. "Wearing argyle socks with as argyle vest will look too studied."
"You think so?" he asks.
"You'll look like you consciously worked for this look," I say, then, suddenly upset, turn back to McDermott. "Featherhead? How in the hell did you get Featherhead from Leatherface?"
"Ah, cheer up, Bateman," he says, slapping me on the back, then massaging my neck. "What's the matter? No shiatsu this morning?"
"Keep touching me like this," I say, eyes shut tight, entire body wired and ticking, coiled up ready, wanting to spring, "and you'll draw back a stump."
"Whoa, hold on there, little buddy," McDermott says, backing off in mock fear. The two of them giggle like idiots and give each other high-five, completely unaware that I'd cut his hands off, and much more, with pleasure.
The three of us, David Van Patten, Craig McDermott and myself, are sitting in the dining room of the Yale Club at lunch. Van Patten is wearing a glen-plaid wool-crepe suit from Krizia Uomo, a Brooks Brothers shirt, a tie from Adirondack and shoes by Cole-Haan. McDermott is wearing a lamb's wool and cashmere blazer, worsted wool flannel trousers by Ralph Lauren, a shirt and tie also by Ralph Lauren and shoes from Brooks Brothers. I'm wearing a tick-weave wool suit with a windowpane overplaid, a cotton shirt by Luciano Barbera, a tie by Luciano Barbera, shoes from Cole-Haan and nonprescription glasses by Bausch & Lomb. The Patty Winters Show this morning was about Nazis and, inexplicably, I got a real charge out of watching it. Though I wasn't exactly charmed by their deeds, I didn't find them unsympathetic either, nor I might add did most of the members of the audience. One of the Nazis, in a rare display of humor, even juggled grapefruits and, delighted, I sat up in bed and clapped.
Luis Carruthers sits five tables away from this one, dressed as if he'd had some kind of frog attack this morning - he's wearing an unidentifiable suit from some French tailor; and if I'm not mistaken the bowler hat on the floor beneath his chair also belongs to him - it has Luis written all over it. He smiles but I pretend not to have noticed. I worked out at Xclusive for two hours this morning and since the three of us have taken the rest of the afternoon off, we're all getting massages. We haven't ordered yet, in fact we haven't even seen menus. We've just been drinking. A bottle of champagne is what Craig originally wanted, but David shook his head vehemently and said "Out, out, out " when this was suggested and so we ordered drinks instead. I keep watching Luis and whenever he looks over at our table I tip my head back and laugh even if what Van Patten or McDermott's saying isn't particularly funny, which is practically always. I've perfected my fake response to a degree where it's so natural-sounding that no one notices. Luis stands up, wipes his mouth with a napkin and glances over here again before exiting the dining area and, I'm supposing, goes to the men's room.