In the year 1986 when I first saw Tom Cruise in the movie Top Gun, I was an impressionable 18 year old. Tom Cruise was all of 26. Undoubtedly it was my first experience of a crush. I realized for the first time, these feelings of love and passion. How the heart melts at a mere sight of another human being, how the flutters never stop and you have that foolish grin all over your face. How there is always a gentle breeze around you and how your mind is filled only with the thoughts of "love" and romance. You even catch up on all the romance novels and listen to those sappy lovey dovey songs.
When Tom Cruise as Maverick, a dashing young Naval airman, walked in his uniform with undeniable determination, my hormones raged. I discovered that I had these feelings for this god like man whose eyes had such a piercing effect on my heart that I thought I would die. He had it all - the smile, the looks, the eyes, and the fluttering hair. Oh that fluttering hair. He did not have the height but that didn't seem to matter at all. He had personality. Tom Cruise remained as my idea of a cool handsome dude for a long time after that. Through his Mission Impossibles and three marriages Tom always remained the number one handsome man for me. I didn't think his jumping on the sofa in the most controversial Oprah show expressing his feelings for Katie Holmes was stupid or his obsession with Scientology and strong opinions on it ever mattered to me. After all the heart is biased.
Scroll ahead to 2010, I went to see Knight and Day a much awaited Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise starer. I was looking forward to seeing the man of my dreams once more. I was waiting to experience that same fluttering and same going weak in the knees feeling all over again. The movie had all the ingredients Tom Cruise is usually seen with. A bike, lots of action including guns and stunts, cool dark glasses, happening blue pair of jeans; but something was amiss. Tom Cruise had aged. He still looked like a stud and he smiled a lot in the entire movie but he had aged. Aging in the film industry is brutal. Paired with the also aging Cameron Diaz, Tom looked worn out. At 48 he still has a great body but his eyes and face told a different tale. His famous dark glasses were still there but only to cover the tired look, his hair still fluttered in the breeze but to take away the attention from his face, his body was chiseled like a Greek god but every time you looked in his eyes you notice sag lines. But it was still Tom Cruise.
My heart was still biased. I ignored those tired eyes and focused on his fluttering hair and deadly smile. I also tried to ignore Cameron Diaz who frankly needs to put some make up on. She looks old too and has a role of a bumbling idiot who we want to know nothing about. She does not look like a car repair person at all and just bores us through the movie. Frankly the overly emoted Charlies Angel was a better suited role for her. She still has the flat stomach and great figure and those deep blue eyes but her California skin looks dull and worn out. She makes Tom Cruise look bad. I mean really!!!
At 48 Tom Cruise still rocks as the dude for me but I felt pangs of pain at that fleeing image of my man. Age had caught up not just for him but perhaps for me as well. I don't feel that flutter or that gently breeze any more, hot flash perhaps but no cool breeze. How has the idea of romance changed for me? I like the idea of still keeping that part of my mind and heart for those special guys who trigger happy hormones in me separate from my marriage. And feel no guilt absolutely. Its interesting how at 41 my perception of a fluttering heart is merely momentary. I flutter frequently. By that I mean that my heart no longer flutters but it flits. I hold biases for others no more and I get attracted and distracted between breaths. Like how I feel currently for the football players like David Villa and Diego Forlan. Perhaps- for me it is my marriage and kids and a changing role - an evolution of sorts.
The value of an actor diminishes with age but does it also diminish the value of the person. Do we look at people differently because of their age? After all what is age to us? It is a mere number when we pause and recount the number of years in our journey of life. As we grow older we reflect how many more we would have with us to walk on. At work place, discrimination due to age is common. The success is attributed to experience in the name of age and failure to the perception of it. The world is not meant to stay stagnant.
We sometimes see aging as an inability to perform or trigger happy thoughts? The fading of beauty despite it being only skin deep? Hypocrites are we or only human. Cruel are we or only fickle?
Perhaps those adolescent images of romance stayed a bit longer in my mind than I realized. I was hoping that I had relived the feelings as well. It was a wake up call but my heart still remains loyal and biased. He still stays in my heart as the handsome, confident super hero, cool and collected and definitely takes my breath away.