We prolong adolescence in this country, but expect commitment from men (and women) who ought to be committed. In a 2004 USA Today article, “It’s Time To Grow Up—Later,” sociologist James Côté, who coined the term “youthhood,” declared, “the traditional adulthood of duty and self-sacrifice is becoming more and more a thing of the past.”
But Mayer’s comments suggest that in 2010, “youthhood” doesn’t so much supplant “adulthood” as it romanticizes it, creating a tug of war between what one thinks they should be doing and what one actually does. For Mayer, there seems to be a tension between wanting to be a 32-year-old ninja warrior and wanting to be a nice white boy who sings songs about love and stuff. Which would explain this piece of Mayer Yoda-ism:
“If you say I’m not adult and stable, it sounds as though I’m someone who’s watching football and playing Xbox …. It’s not like I wanted to be with somebody else. I want to be with myself, still, and lie in bed only with the infinite unknown. That’s 32, man.”
And how many men do I know like that?
Problem is no one wants to admit to their inherent and sociologically supported “immaturity” on the record. It’s always on background, especially once someone hits the big 3-0, the new millennium’s magic number. So kids raised on Schoolhouse Rock!— “A man and woman had a little baby. Yes, they did. There were three-ee in the family. Now, that’s a magic number”—now have a grainy picture of being a grown-up. Marriage and babies—or “the infinite unknown.”