Podcast in windowless room. Podcast in windowless room with quiet brown brick walls or quiet brown wood paneling. Podcast in windowless room with brick walls or wood paneling and LED lights controlled by calm and quietly confident podcast host. Podcast controlled by podcast host in windowless room. Podcast host as locus of control, as primary tongue, as relatable young man among relatable young men, not threatening at all, no reflective surfaces and no windows and no crying and no revealed secrets and no unfurled threats.

Podcast in windowless room hosted by nice men with nice postures, nice young men who hail from good and/or clean and/or promising neighborhoods and have all chosen nice apparel out of a sense of respect, unthreatening men in identical headphones. Unthreatening laughter at highly controlled jokes. Highly controlled laughter in windowless rooms. Stage-managed enthusiasm and a surplus of valid points. Mood lighting and brick walls and plastic skulls and an oversized unlit votive candle and logo-free mugs of unmentioned clear liquids swallowed during practiced silences by nice and/or respectful young men in unthreatening shirts.

Podcast hosts in agreement. Podcast hosts in matching headphones laughing and sipping clear liquids in windowless rooms and agreeing “having a good time” is both the method and the goal. Having a good time and asking a few real questions and making a few valid points. Podcast hosts in windowless rooms, young men with careful haircuts and, on average, four days’ worth of careful manageable scruff and low-pitched but flexible voices and small abstract passions agreeing with each other about having a good time, nice young men slipping clear liquids from logo-free mugs in windowless rooms with mood lighting nodding in assent that everything is basically under control, having fun under control, being aware under control, having everything under control or close enough.

Young men in businesswear in windowless rooms sitting with excellent posture in unremarkable swivel chairs sipping clear liquids from logo-free mugs. Podcast hosts or guests who are young men, who are nice, who look nice, who are well-behaved and who have things under control and who are fully aware of the circumstances. Podcast hosts in pale blue dress shirts and slate blue neckties carefully knotted and studiously ignored. Future leaders in agreement that seeming respectful should look natural. Young men in windowless rooms in complete agreement about innocent fun. Young men in businesswear in windowless rooms with controlled lighting sharing strategies for establishing contentment as a goal. Well-dressed young white men in windowless rooms having a good time. Well-dressed young white men in windowless rooms asking each other questions about strategies for unlocking the achievement of total contentment. Clean-looking and well-dressed young affluent white men in windowless rooms wearing matching headphones and having fun and working toward a shared goal of having increasingly unlimited fun and sitting up straight and not fussing with their pale blue dress shirts and slate blue neckties and slim fit gray wool slacks, nice men sitting around a secondhand office table bought off a bright and spacious website, young men making quiet jokes about trust exercises and laughing and smiling and saying to each other in low flexible voices, after each wave of jokes subsides. No, but for real. For real though. Well-groomed young white men interested in civic engagement who say the word “though” in a way suggesting their shared mental spelling of it is “tho.” Young men who agree that maybe the root of the problem lies in being too nice.

Polite young men as self-conscious citizens. Unaddressed or cloth-covered backstories and backdrops. Polite curious young men asking questions. Well-groomed future business leaders whispering about sundowning theatre kids and camp counselors running the world, and laughing about it, and whispering about it, and laughing.

Young men in a young and quiet room, young men in most of a business suit, a preparation, nice young men in matching headphones with headphone cords tucked under their shirt collars, running down their thoroughly inspected and carefully positioned bodies and pooling in coils on the carpeted floor. Everything is almost always plugged in. Everyone is almost always basically fine. No noise but polite inquiry and polite laughter indicating consent.

Podcast hosts in windowless rooms waiting. Young men waiting to continue having a conversation worth both having and sharing, recording and saving, having the kind of fun worth having in windowless rooms, having a good time and sitting up straight and waiting patiently to continue having a good time, asking questions and answering in hypotheticals. Young men with expensive haircuts and slate blue neckties in windowless rooms with controlled lighting laughing at their questions, at their answers, at the silence, at all the controlled contentment yet to arrive in the broad and brightly-lit future. Highly prepared young men in windowless rooms waiting patently for small controlled contentments everyone can understand.

Young men in windowless rooms. Controlled and confident and careful and nice. Self-assured and self-aware. Choosing to dedicate group effort toward unlimited personal growth.

Carefully nice and clean-cut young men in windowless rooms recording themselves waiting patiently to be asked questions. Handsome young white men aware of themselves and each other and the downhill slopes outside them asking questions and having a good time and recording themselves. Careful young men patiently recording themselves in windowless rooms. Recording is both the method and the goal. Podcast hosts in windowless rooms half-saying in low and careful voices, “We have always been here, we have always been here and we always will,” sometimes as a joke.


Nicholas Grider‘s story collections include MISADVENTURE (A Strange Object/Deep Vellum) and FOREST OF BORDERS (Malarkey) and their work has appeared in Conjunctions, Guernica, Okay Donkey, XRAY, and other publications.


image: Christine Naprava is a writer from South Jersey with a soft spot for photography. You can find her on Twitter @CNaprava and Instagram @cnaprava.