When Togo first found out that Lars was a musician, he immediately wanted him in his band, thinking that he’d skim off some of the girlies for whom Lars just couldn’t find time. Lars was absurdly good-looking in those days — good-looking enough, in fact, to obscure his having no clue about self-presentation, and an apparent aversion to stylishness. Women didn’t seem even to notice his appalling wardrobe choices, though. The two friends would go together to, for instance, a dance club in the Marina, and Lars would have the most striking blonde on the premises on his arm almost before he’d gotten his ID put away after showing it to the gatekeeper. Togo was reasonably cute himself in that era, and of course stylish to the limited expense his income permitted, and on a couple of occasions women amazed him by seeming to prefer him to Lars.
Years went by, and then decades. The two friends were separated by — stand back! — irreconcilable differences, the width of a continent, and the Atlantic Ocean. Togo continued his pattern of serial monogamy for stretches lasting up to a decade, Lars his own of Not Committing. The friendship got revived. Decades before, when Togo’s second extended flirtation with monogamy had ended, Lars had kindly invited him to collect his thoughts in the house he was housesitting at the time. They’d gotten along well, and decided, nearly a decade and a half into the second century of their friendship, to share an apartment.
Lars had let himself go, had become rotund, had become a lumberer, a jovial fat uncle who went religiously to the gym every week whether he need to or not. His taste hadn’t improved. Indeed, it seemed to have gotten worse over the years. He seemed terribly out of tune. When he and Togo invited a pair of young sisters from the adjacent apartment over one evening for a glass of wine, he regaled them with quips about, rock musicians from decades past of whom they’d clearly never heard. As they smiled obligingly, Togo hoped no one noticed him wincing.
The friendship ran aground again, and Togo resolved to move far away. One evening, Lars invited over a prospective replacement roommate. She was breathtaking, with luminous long blond hair, a magazine cover face, a lovely figure, and style to burn. Togo was reminded of the Swedish movie star Britt Ekland.
Lars showed her around. If she was dismayed by the ugliness of the living room, in which Lars’s large collection of wooden tables was juxtaposed, jarringly, with black hi-tech elecronic equipment and graphics personally selected by Lars, whose visual taste has never extended beyond women, she didn’t let on. As Togo made himself scarce in the kitchen, the two prospective future roommates stood and chatted, and the most remarkable thing happened. Around 20 years fell off Lars. His blue eyes twinkled as in decades past. His hair looked somehow less gray. He was handsome again, and slender, at least in his former friend’s eyes, no lumberer, cordial, but not avuncularly so. But then Britt, as we’ll call her, was gone, and with her, Lars’s restored beauty.