I remember the first time I ever saw American Psycho in vivid, vomitous detail.
If you've seen American Psycho, you'll know what I mean when I say watching the movie is like wading through a warm, seductive pool of contempt. The parody of the bankerly lifestyle—throwing cash around, obsessing over business cards, insulting women, hating poor people—was so thick that I couldn't stop laughing. The longer it goes on, the funnier the hyperbole became, and by the end, my entire idea of Wall Street had been painted by Bret Easton Ellis's absurdity.
The year was 2007, and I was in Cambridge taking my second swing at college. For reasons I won't get into, I'd left school a year before and spent a year doing glorified data entry in London where I learned how to drink and how not to act while drinking. My only real contact with bankers tended to take place in the messy minutes after the pubs closed, and you'd see proper Oxford-educated stockbrokers puking on the sidewalk and pissing in the gutters. "So that's what it's like to have money," I remember thinking.
Cambridge was a more sober town, but not for our lack of drinking. In fact, we drank quite a bit, building pyramids of Pabst cans on our balcony and doing dangerous things with energy drinks. Hey, it was college. We weren't the only ones.
We decided to stay in that night. I can't remember if it was too cold or too boring to go out. (It always seemed to be one or the other in the years I spent living in and around Boston. But I'd bought the American Psycho DVD at Newbury Comics and was dying to see it. My friend… errrr… let's call him Patrick. My friend Patrick was dying to play a drinking game while we watched and somehow, regrettably, we agreed upon Edward Fortyhands. So we hustled down to the corner store, picked up a few Colt .45s, and got out the duct tape. The goal was to finish before the end of the movie, and the prize was bragging rights. After all, I'd spent all my gambling money on DVDs and malt liquor.
During the last scene, I finished my beers and started tearing the bottles off my sweaty hands. My friend Patrick was a good ways behind me, but he was a competitive kind of guy and decided that he had to finish second so he chugged both of his bottles. Bad idea. No sooner did he burp the word "Done!" than he spewed the contents of his stomach back into the 40 bottle and then all over my floor. "Damnit," he said wiping his mouth clean with the back of his hand still taped to the bottle. "I was so close to winning."
A year later, I'd left school (and the country) again, and Patrick had taken a job with Bear Sterns in New York. Somehow, everything worked out, eventually. I did finish school. Patrick, miraculously, weathered the Financial Crisis. We never did play Edward Fortyhands again, though.
American Psycho hits Netflix this month. I couldn't recommend it more enthusiastically. Word to the wise: Skip the drinking game and focus on the script. Despite my introduction to it, I maintain that it's one of the best movies this generation's ever seen.