Tom Cruise brings most of this on himself, really. Between the boundless enthusiasm and the part where he’s the public face of a weird religious organization that periodically is the subject of 7,000-word magazine articles about how secretive and creepy it is, it’s just kind of easy to poke fun at him and write him off. “I loved him in everything up until A Few Good Men,” you’ve probably said at a party when the subject came up, “but he’s just gotten so… strange now.” Yes, fine. This is an understandable and defensible position to hold given the things we know — and don’t know — about Tom Cruise here in 2014. But I have this theory, and the more I think about it, the more sure I am it’s true: I think you would like Tom Cruise if you met him.
I don’t even think it would take long, either. Oh, you’d talk a big game before it happened (“Hey, did you hear Tom Cruise is coming to this party?” “Pfft. That weirdo?”), but you’d probably roll over within minutes due to the sheer force of his friendliness. He’d walk up to you at the snack table, take that charisma that won over millions around the world via large two-dimensional screen, focus it all in on your real-life three-dimensional face with the intensity of a laser, and you’d just melt all over the floor like a Rocketpop on the sun. In fact, I bet the whole thing would startle you so much you’d choke on the pretzels you had just piled onto your plate.
And who would come to your aid when you start turning blue due to the jagged chunk of sourdough pretzel that is preventing oxygen from getting to your brain? Why, Tom Cruise, obviously, because of course Tom Cruise is the kind of guy who jumps up to perform the Heimlich while other partygoers stand around in semi-shock. He would squeeze your abdomen until the pretzel became dislodged, and then, as you desperately gasped for the sweet, sweet air you feared you’d never taste again, he would stare into your eyes with that earnest, innocent look of his, like a puppy who is concerned his master leaving for work means he’ll never return again. Then you’d cough and regain your normal color and he would smile his bazillion-watt smile right into your big stupid face. Seeing it for the first time in person, you’d realize that those sunglasses he always wears are a necessity, not an accessory. They’re to protect his eyes from his own radiance. You’d begin to understand.
Later in the evening Tom Cruise would swing by to check on you, see how you’re doing. After he’s convinced you’re okay, asking you if you’re sure three times and telling you to remember to chew thoroughly and hydrate (and not as a joke, either … very serious), he’d ask what you’re up to the rest of the night. Thinking he’s just making conversation, you’d tell him: you and a few friends are going to a little dive bar to do karaoke.
"I love karaoke! We can take my car!"
You, a person who is new to the experience of an international film icon who just saved your life inviting himself to karaoke, would say “Uh, sure,” because you wouldn’t know what else to say. Also, you’d already be in his car. You wouldn’t even be sure how it happened. It would be like his excitement teleported you all there.
And guess what? Tom Cruise would be REALLY GOOD at karaoke. Not just the performing either, because of course Tom Cruise is great at performing, committing fully to the experience and using the unbridled power of his personality to get the rest of the crowd to sing back-up on his rendition of “Suspicious Minds.” No, he’d be great at the whole shebang. Patting people on the back after their turn on stage, using his infectious enthusiasm and self-esteem to convince bashful wallflowers to give it a go, buying pitcher after pitcher of beer every time one gets half empty, all of it. And not just for you and your group, either. He’d do this for everyone at the bar, for the entire night, save the 20 minutes he’d spend listening to the bartender tell him about the problems she’s having in her relationship, which Tom Cruise would be happy to do. Later, the bartender would tell you in private that he provided excellent advice, as though he’s known her for years.
Anyway, the night would end and you’d wake up the next day unsure if it all really happened. I mean, it couldn’t have, right? But just as you were convincing yourself that maybe it was a hallucination triggered by bad hummus at the party, your doorbell would ring, and a giant man in a suit would be standing there with a gift bag.
"Mr. Cruise wants you to have this," he’d say, before turning and walking back to his jet black Mercedes. Inside the gift bag you’d find Vitamin C tablets, Gatorade, gourmet coffee beans, and a card for a Dr. Torberg in Beverly Hills. There would also be a note. It would read:
Thanks for a fun night. Hope this helps with the hangover. Call Dr. Torberg (my personal Ear, Nose, and Throat guy) on Monday. I’m worried that pretzel may have scratched your esophagus. He’s expecting your call.
Months later, at your office Christmas party, you’d overhear hear two tipsy secretaries gossiping. Tom Cruise’s name would come up. One would say to the other “I just don’t know about the Scientolgy thing. He’s so weird now.” You’d walk over and lean in, just as the other secretary is about to see that statement and raise it some baseless speculation.
"You know," you’d say, "I think you would like Tom Cruise if you met him."