Tad Johnson

Mirror Essay



There is a belief that I have encountered in society that indirectly states that a person, regardless of gender, should be settled down or at least trying to do so around their late twenties to early thirties. When a person chooses to wait longer than this, it is often declared that he or she is not complying with this unwritten rule for some mysterious reason. Maybe it is said that the individual is in denial of their age. Or maybe it is even worse, they truly cannot find a partner to settle down with and are extremely ashamed of this. I believe there is another, much more positive, alternative to this. In my case, I proudly remain single for the simple fact that I am not ready for settling down, nor do I think it fits my personality. It is very possible that a person can wait as long as they wish to settle down for the simple reason that they enjoy being single and are in no hurry to make an impulsive decision.

I am a thirty five year old heterosexual male who loves every bit of my single life and am sometimes offended by social media’s various takes on the “single older guy”, as well as some occasional statements from my family members. Family members who touch on this subject are usually searching for the, “when are you having kids?” question. For the most part I am not affected by comments that seem to expect a response pertaining to the matter of having children. However, there have been moments where the conversation of starting a family comes up and I become a bit saddened that I can’t “deliver” anytime soon. Generally, my sentiment towards the idea sorts the conversation out through various body language expressions that exemplify the confidence in my life choices thus far. I am very confident this is currently the right lifestyle for me and am just trying to live my life as well as I can.

In a 2003 movie by Director Todd Phillips titled “Old School”, a group of thirty plus year old males start a fraternity near a college campus. They are reliving their “younger days” and are supporting a stereotype that exists in society where most single older men in their 30’s are viewed as big irresponsible kids. In this movie not all of the men are single like myself, but I often get compared to these characters as if I party all of the time and live “the dream.” This insinuation is aimed at me not caring all that much about responsibility and just floating through life without a problem. Unfortunately I do not have time for such an extravagant freeloading type of lifestyle. For over eleven years now I have worked on the railroad while focusing on securing my future as best I can. Responsibility is something that I pride myself on, and my career as well as my financial decisions are very much so dependent on that very thing.

I have found that because I am a single 35 year old male who has made a few good choices, one of which was starting a career, that my responsible decisions have awarded me to take the “next step” and settle down. Apparently I am now ready to find a wife and start a family. Many times a year I am asked when I am going to “join the club.” I realize this is not everyone’s view but it certainly is a common view in my experience. In these conversations, I generally respond with, “I only want to get married once so I am taking my time” or “I didn’t know it was a mandatory thing to settle down!” Speaking of “settling down”, this term gets misused all too much. If I decide to always remain single, then my retirement will be one of many versions of “settling down.”  This term is aimed at the idea of a person becoming more accountable with his or her finances and for the most part, using everything that has been learned so far in his or her life, while applying it towards a predictable more simplified lifestyle. That sounds like a great mindset for someone who is starting a family for obvious reasons, however, it also sounds like an intelligent decision for anyone on the entire planet who has learned through trial and error that life can be tough so you’d better think ahead and prepare for hard times. I will definitely “settle down” one day but there is no certainty of which kind of “settling down” I will have.

A good friend of mine not too long ago said to me, “hey Tad! your like that Dupree guy from that movie!” My friend was referring to a movie starring actor Owen Wilson titled “You Me, and Dupree”, directed by Joe and Anthony Russo. In this romantic comedy there is a buddy from the past named Dupree who randomly shows up and crashes on his friends couches, because he has accomplished little in his life, and basically couch surfs and chases women around. It is because of these social media perspectives that I fall into a stereotype that offends me from time to time. I am often excluded from social functions because I am single and am thought to be doing “single guy stuff”, whatever that means. I am comfortable enough to where I have no urge to seek a partner and feel that anyone who rushes such a thing may fall into an unhappy situation such as the character “Ed Bundy” who plays an unhappy husband that works as a shoe salesmen on the hit TV show “Married with Children.”

This show ended in 1997 and was certainly a very extreme example of an unsuccessful marriage, even though it had it’s good moments. In my opinion, the over all the message was, “oh well I guess i’ll just go along with the role of society and make fun of my wife all of the time while I complain about everything else.” Although, there is also a message in this television series that supports my point on the single lifestyle, and that is to be patient and happy with yourself first and foremost. That way, if and when you do meet someone, it will be a better situation. I choose to be single for many reasons but one may very well be that due to my parents both having been married multiple times, as well as many unhappy marriages I have witnessed, I wish to “season” myself as long as I can so that I can be a better man for my friends, family and possibly a partner for when ever that time comes. I will enjoy my life on this planet and continue to explore the world through single eyes for now.  It just makes sense for me.

Works Cited:

IMDB; “Old School”, 2003, Directed by Todd Phillips

IMDB; “You, Me and Dupree”, 2006, Directed by Joe Russo and Antony Russo

IMDB; “Married with Children”, 1987-1997, Created by Ron Leavitt and Michael G. Moye

Artifacts: (movies)

“Old School”

“You, Me and Dupree”

“Married with Children”


International Movie Database (IMDB) for all three artifacts.

3,586 words

6 thoughts on “Male/Single/35

  1. Tad,
    You really deliver on connecting your audience into your own experience as a single male in his 30’s who has no real urge to indulge in the “ideal” lifestyle that media and other popular culture artifacts seem to focus on; that all men (or women for that matter) want to live a certain way or be in a certain place in their life by the time they reach their 30’s, and that is to be married and have a family. I do feel that in more recent years, there has been more acceptance of individuals and couples, waiting until later in life to have that white picket fence lifestyle. This is present with many celebrities, for example Jennifer Lopez, and Mariah Carey (just two from the top of my head); who have both had families later in life. Whether that is by choice or not, I am not sure. But either way, it seems to not be the ideal to anymore to graduate college and have a family, a lot of people are wanting to travel, experience other parts of life before “settling down” into that certain lifestyle of a wife and kids, or in your case husband and kids.
    Another thing that I noticed was that many of your artifacts seem to showcase this idea that if you are an older male who does not have a family, then you are either partying all the time; trying to be young, or you are someone who just doesn’t seem very appealing to others when it comes to wanting to settle down and be in a romantic relationship (such as that of Dupree in your references). Overall, you do a great job of showing how your particular identity is just not very well broadcasted in popular culture, although it would seem many people are waiting until even their 40’s to have children. Great job!


  2. Dear Tad,
    I thought this paper was excellent. It was very personable and you were able to convey the stereotype of single older males. The examples were pretty flawless and did a great job at showing this stereotype that males that are still single in their thirties are viewed as guys who are afraid of commitment or simply trying to hold onto their youth–trying to never grow up. It’s a ridiculous stereotype to me–the single older guy still chasing after relationship after relationship, who don’t take things seriously. All people need their own time and this stereotype, though many people laugh at it, is a bit ridiculous. Anyway great paper!

  3. Tad,

    I was really looking forward to reading your paper after writing your peer review letter, and I must say, I am impressed with your final. You touch base on various matters relative to “settling down”, including defining settling down, and this made the paper overall very effective. The way that you introduced each of your sources was strong too; your transitions were not repetitive or simple. I really liked that your paper was more about your life than it was about the sources. You used just the right amount of source-analysis so that your own opinions and story really stood out. Your three sources really helped me as a reader understand how your identity is stereotyped and portrayed in popular media. Your conclusion was also effective because you ended it on a personal note. There were a few minor grammar issues here and there, but overall, your language and vocabulary are both stellar. I was hoping to see a secondary source that analyzed your sources, especially You, Me and Dupree, just a bit more. Regardless, your paper was well put together, and I enjoyed reading it.


  4. Dear Tad,
    After I read your paper I would like to say you have done well on your final essay. I’m very impressed with everything you said on the paper. You really attracted to the audience by your own experience . Moreover, the sources which you used for this essay are very helpful for the reader. It helps for the reader truly understanding how your identity portrayed in Pop cultures. Overall, you do a great job and it is a good final essay. Thanks for sharing
    Han Ly

  5. I loved this essay! I felt as thought I was really able to connect with you – you had a great voice throughout. It was clear that this is a topic you feel passionate about and have spent a lot of time mulling over. Your examples were not only relevant, but practical specifically to the stereotypes you face. Great job, Tad! This was an awesome paper.

  6. Dear Tad,
    I really enjoyed reading your essay. I think your reflection on growing up and learning from those lived experiences for your own future is important. Your self awareness is really interesting and I think will serve you well in life. You made me think of the marshmallow experiment ( I think you would have been the kid who waited longer 🙂
    Great job.
    -Andrea K

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