Another birthday without a boyfriend. That makes three in a row. Last year, I spent the big 4-0 alone, except for my 7-month-old daughter, who didn’t know or care that it was my birthday.
Anyway, my failure at love. It’s nothing new, really. I’ve been looking for a man to give my heart to when I already gave it away years ago.
The gent who has my heart? Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. That’s Tom Cruise to you.
OK, you might be thinking: Tom’s a Scientology weirdo, an adulterer, a couch bouncer. So what? You may only think Scientology is weird because you don’t know a thing about it. It’s easier to label Tom a freak than to try and understand his religion.
Scientology may not be my thing, but it’s cool with me if Tommy’s into it. I like a man with a spiritual side. Besides, he’s a lapsed Catholic who quit seminary school. Hot!
The affair during his marriage to Nicole Kidman was despicable. But good people do bad things. Tom Cruise is not the first actor to have an affair. At least he didn’t impregnate the maid like a certain movie star/former governor.
As for the couch bounce on “Oprah" — that was adorable. Exclaiming, “I love her, I love her!” and bouncing like Tigger on national television — now that’s love.
Haven’t you acted silly for love? You haven’t? Well, then, you haven’t loved.
“Taps,” “The Outsiders,” “All the Right Moves.” Which was my first Tom Cruise movie? I don’t remember. I think the infatuation began when I saw that iconic scene from “Risky Business.” You know the one: You see a fireplace and hear the opening notes of “Old Time Rock and Roll." And then Tom slides across the hardwood living room floor and into the scene wearing a pink oxford shirt and white socks. And no pants. He dances around the living room in his tighty-whiteys, leaping onto the coffee table to play air guitar. Hasn’t everyone done that at least once, or wanted to?
The crush began with “Risky” but it was “Top Gun” that won my eternal love. Tom plays Maverick, the aptly named hero in aviator shades. He pilots a rocket-like Kawasaki Ninja 900 motorcycle on the streets and an F-14 Tomcat in the sky. Sexy stuff.
But the scene that makes my heart leave my body and soar in Tom’s pocket is when Maverick sees Kelly McGillis in a bar and attempts to woo her. Rebuffed again and again, he sits down at the piano and serenades her with “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” When the closing credits roll, I know I’ll fly anywhere with Mr. Cruise.
Since then, I’ve seen nearly every Tom Cruise movie in a theater. I anticipate the opening of a new Tom Cruise movie the way hunters anticipate rifle season. In nearly 30 years, he has starred in more than 30 movies. I’ve seen them all. At least twice. Some I love, some I like. There’s not one that leaves me indifferent, not one I wouldn’t watch again.
In three decades, Tom Terrific has never let me down.
This is what happens in the movie version of my life: Tom Cruise strolls the boardwalk incognito during a break from filming a movie in downtown Grand Haven. Oblivious as always, I bump into him, dropping my ice cream cone on his Prada shoes. I splutter apologies and sully his shoes even further by attempting to wipe them clean.
Meanwhile, my toddler races away from me and toward the water. Tom rescues her, laughs off my graceless destruction of his shoes and flies me to dinner at his favorite restaurant. We enjoy a magical courtship, he adopts my fatherless baby and we all live happily ever after. Or he accompanies me to my high school reunion to make up for the fact that I went dateless to prom.
But life is not a movie. The only time I will occupy the same room as Tom is when he appears on a TV or movie screen.
When I was a college sophomore, I taped a “Days of Thunder” poster to the wall beside my bed. For a decade, that poster moved with me from dorm to dorm, apartment to apartment. Tom’s face was the first I saw every morning and the last I saw every night.
That’s the closest I’ll ever get to sleeping with Tom Cruise. On the other hand, he will never stand me up, cheat on me or leave the toilet seat up. He’s the perfect boyfriend.
I’m actually getting excited for my birthday — I’ve got a date with my TV. And the love of my life.
— By Kelly O'Toole, Tribune community columnist