You and I have had a tumultuous relationship over the years. Although I generally abhor the public's obsession with fame, I've always had a hard time accepting you as America's Favorite Leading Man and one of Hollywood's biggest box-office draws.
Even though I loved "Bosom Buddies" and some of your earlier work, I think our relationship began to disentegrate when you won the Academy Award in 1993 for "Philadelphia." Mainly, I was pissed because you beat out two of my favorite actors, Daniel Day Lewis ("In the Name of the Father") and Liam Neeson ("Schindler's List) with a performance that was best suited for a Hallmark afterschool TV show.
Then, the next year, you won for "Forest Gump," beating out Morgan Freeman ("Shawshank Redemption") and Nigel Hawthorne ("Madness of King George"). Sadly, I realized that America was getting a case of Hankmania and that only alcohol could serve as an antidote for me.
However, I think the nadir of our relationship really reached unfathomable depths back in 1999. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were on their legendary reunion tour, highlighted by a sold-out, 15-show run at Continental Airlines Arena. Through some good friends, I was lucky to get 2nd row tickets, backstage passes and the opportunity to meet Springsteen afterwards. Aside from my wedding and the birth of my daughter, I don't really remember ever being so excited.
When I got to my seat, you and your lovely wife were sitting directly in front of me. Whereas she danced like a normal person, you spent the entire concert doing that spastic dance you invented for your crappy film, "That Thing You Do!" For more than three hours, I watched as you pointed your fingers in the sky and twisted your hips like a schoolgirl with hemmorhoids. While I should have been watching Bruce onstage, I found myself absolutely mesmerized by your hypnotic Massai rain dance. You singlehandedly sucked out all the joy from that concert.
To this day, whenever I think about that evening, I start twitching and banging my head against a wall.
After that night, I couldn't stand you. When I watched "Apollo 13," I rooted for your demise and hoped that you wouldn't return to Earth's orbit. When you spent three hours talking to a volleyball, nobody was more bummed out than me when that passing ship saved your sorry ass.
But last night, my beloved NY Mets were playing the Reds in Cincinnatti. Suddenly, the camera panned to you sitting in the stands, waiting out an almost 3-hour rain delay with your buddy Opie. When the game resumed, the camera came back to you. Hmmm, I thought. Not only did Hanks wait out the rain delay, it turns out that he knows how to score a game. Maybe I was wrong about him?
Then, I hear that you and your closest friends are celebrating your 50th birthday by touring around in a bus and visiting every single ballpark in the U.S. Fuck! That's pretty damn cool. You could have been like most celebrity egomaniacs and celebrated your 50th by renting out Oprah's private island or taking Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton to the Chateau Marmont for a quick menage-a-trois ride on The Polar Express. But you didn't and I found myself respecting that.
Today, I open the paper and see an article about your birthday adventure, where you're quoted as saying, "the only requisite is that you have to be a serious baseball fan and funny to get on the bus." The article then goes on to recount how you grew up selling soda and peanuts at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum when you were a little kid. When asked which was your favorite team, you replied, "I really just grew up hating France."
Damn, that's pretty fucking funny! Aside from the fact that this birthday bus idea is possibly the coolest thing I've ever heard, could I have been wrong about you, Tom? After all, you seem like a decent guy. You're a loving husband and a devoted father. When the rain delay started, you didn't hide out in some luxury box. You sat in the stands with an umbrella like a regular guy. Maybe it's time I reevaluated our relationship. I hate to say this but I think I actually like you now. Wow, time really does heal all wounds!
But if I ever see you doing that fucking dance again, we're breaking up!
All the best,