The pack of boys had released their first album in Seoul two years ago, and now they were selling out corporate arenas and Olympic stadiums all over the world. I was familiar with the story of their explosive ascent, how the premiere of their latest music video had triggered a power outage across an entire Pacific island. I knew they were performers of supernatural charisma whose concerts could leave a fan permanently destabilized, unable to return to the spiritual attenuation of her daily life. I also knew about the boys’ exceptional profundity in matters of the heart, how they offered that same fan her only chance of survival in a world they’d exposed for the risible fraud that it was.

At least this was what I’d derived from hours of listening to Vavra. As her roommate, I was subject to her constant efforts at proselytization. But the more she wanted me to love the boys, the more they repulsed me. The healthy communalism of feeling they inspired, almost certainly a strategy to expand the fandom, desecrated my basic notion of love. I could love only that which made me secretive, combative, severe—a moral disappointment to myself and an obstruction to others. So when Vavra knocked on my door to announce that her friend had fallen ill, freeing up a ticket to the boys’ first-ever concert in Berlin, I declined.

“But this concert will change your life,” she said. “I just know it.”

“I don’t want my life to change,” I said. “I want my life to stay in one place and be one thing as intensely as possible.”