How many times I found myself in the exact same scene? Talking with friends or fellow designers about imperceptible details or complicated print techniques?
It might sound silly but us -designers- do this all the time. It happens every time I go to the printer. It happens every time I pay visit to a client. It even happens at home talking with my wife…
It’s absurd how much obsessed and passionate we can be about the subject.
That’s why I love this scene. A classic scene from American Psycho, a film based on a novel by Bret Easton Ellis and directed by Mary Harron, where Bateman and his co-workers pit their business cards against each other, debating the merits of bone, eggshell, and off-white.
I’d wanted to transcript the dialogues from the scene in the movie but instead I will share with you the original dialogues taken from Ellis’ book, from the chapter called “Pastels”, and as you can see, even-though the location in the film has changed the dialogues haven’t been changed that much.
If you haven’t watch it, it’s definitely worth watching the film and of-course, read the book as well.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
“Price pulls it out and though he’s acting nonchalant, I don’t see how he can ignore its subtle off-white coloring, its tasteful thickness. I am unexpectedly depressed that I started this.”
The maître d’ stops by to say hello to McDermott, then notices we don’t have our complimentary Bellinis, and runs off before any of us can stop him. I’m not sure how McDermott knows Alain so well —maybe Cecelia?— and it slightly pisses me off but I decide to even up the score a little bit by showing everyone my new business card. I pull it out of my gazelleskin wallet (Barney’s, $850) and slap it on the table, waiting for reactions.
—Is that a gram ?— Price says, not apathetically.
—New card.— I try to act casual about it but I’m smiling proudly.
—What do you think ?—
—Whoa-ho.— McDermott says, lifting it up, fingering the card, genuinely impressed. —Very nice. Take a look.— He hands it to Van Patten.
—Picked them up from the printer’s yesterday.— I mention.
—Cool coloring.— Van Patten says, studying the card closely.
—That’s bone.— I point out. —And the lettering is something called Silian Rail.—
—Silian Rail?— McDermott asks.
—Yeah. Not bad, huh?—
—It’s very cool, Bateman,— Van Patten says guardedly, the jealous bastard, —but that’s nothing…— He pulls out his wallet and slaps a card next to an ashtray. —Look at this.—
We all lean over and inspect David’s card and Price quietly says, —That is really nice.—
A brief spasm of jealousy courses through me when I notice the elegance of the color and the classy type. I clench my fist as Van Patten says, smugly, —Eggshell with Romalian type…— He turns to me. —What do you think?—
—Nice,— I croak, but manage to nod, as the busboy brings four fresh Bellinis.
—Jesus,— Price says, holding the card up to the light, ignoring the new drinks. —This is really super. How’d a nitwit like you get so tasteful?—
I’m looking at Van Patten’s card and then at mine and cannot believe that Price actually likes Van Patten’s better.
Dizzy, I sip my drink then take a deep breath.
—But wait,— Price says. —You ain’t seen nothin’ yet…— He pulls his out of an inside coat pocket and slowly, dramatically turns it over for our inspection and says, —Mine.—
Even I have to admit it’s magnificent.
Suddenly the restaurant seems far away, hushed, the noise distant, a meaningless hum, compared to this card, and we all hear Price’s words: —Raised lettering, pale nimbus white…—
—Holy shit,— Van Patten exclaims. —I’ve never seen…—
—Nice, very nice,— I have to admit. —But wait. Let’s see Montgomery’s.—
Price pulls it out and though he’s acting nonchalant, I don’t see how he can ignore its subtle off-white coloring, its tasteful thickness. I am unexpectedly depressed that I started this.
—Pizza. Let’s order a pizza,— McDermott says. —Doesn’t anyone want to split a pizza? Red snapper? Mmmmm. Bateman wants that,— he says, rubbing his hands eagerly together.
I pick up Montgomery’s card and actually finger it, for the sensation the card gives off to the pads of my fingers.
—Nice, huh?— Price’s tone suggests he realizes I’m jealous.
—Yeah,— I say offhandedly, giving Price the card like I don’t give a shit, but I’m finding it hard to swallow.
—Red snapper pizza,— McDermott reminds me. —I’m fucking starving.—
—No pizza,— I murmur, relieved when Montgomery’s card is placed away, out of sight, back in Timothy’s pocket.
—Come on,— McDermott says, whining. —Let’s order the red upper pizza.—
—Shut up, Craig,— Van Patten says, eyeing a waitress taking a booth’s order. —But call that hardbody over.—
—But she’s not ours,— McDermott says, fidgeting with the menu he’s yanked from a passing busboy.
—Call her over any way,— Van Patten insists. —Ask her for water or a Corona or something.—
—Why her?— I’m asking no one in particular. My card lies on the table, ignored next to an orchid in a blue glass vase. Gently I pick it up and slip it, folded, back into my wallet.
—Red snapper pizza… red snapper pizza…— McDermott has found a mantra for the evening.
I’m still tranced out on Montgomery’s card -the classy coloring, the thickness, the lettering, the print – and I suddenly raise a fist as if to strike out at Craig and scream, my voice booming, —No one wants the fucking red snapper pizza! A pizza should be yeasty and slightly bready and have a cheesy crust! The crusts here are too fucking thin because the shithead chef who cooks here overbakes everything! The pizza is dried out and brittle!—
Red-faced, I slam my Bellini down on the table and when I look up our appetizers have arrived. A hardbody waitress stands looking down at me with this strange, glazed expression. I wipe a hand over my face, genially smiling up at her. She stands there looking at me as if I were some kind of monster -she actually looks scared- and I glance over at Price -for what? guidance?— and he mouths —Cigars— and pats his coat pocket.
Business Cards are serious business. Patrick Bateman obsesses over Paul Allen’s card.
Notes: American Psycho is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, published in 1991. The story is told in the first person by Patrick Bateman, a serial killer and Manhattan businessman. The book’s graphic violence and sexual content generated a great deal of controversy before and after publication. A film adaptation starring Christian Bale was released in 2000 to generally favorable reviews.
Bret Easton Ellis (born March 7, 1964) is an American novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer. His works have been translated into 27 languages. He was at first regarded as one of the so-called literary Brat Pack, which also includedTama Janowitz and Jay McInerney. He is a self-proclaimed satirist, whose trademark technique, as a writer, is the expression of extreme acts and opinions in an affectless style. Ellis employs a technique of linking novels with common, recurring characters.
Though Ellis made his debut at 21 with the controversial 1985 bestseller Less Than Zero, a zeitgeist novel about amoral young people in Los Angeles, the work he is most known for is his third novel, 1991’s American Psycho.
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