My college roommate was notoriously secretive about her dating life. Though she never admitted to liking a guy until they were practically engaged, we all knew when she was more than a little interested. When she pulled our apartment’s copy of Top Gun from the shelves, you could almost guarantee her date for the evening would still be there in the morning.
As we gaze upon the 30th anniversary of Top Gun, I remember my college years — the ones where Tom Cruise in a fighter jet was its own kind of foreplay.
Here are a few reasons this movie was so damn sexy.
1. Classic Ray-Bans
I don’t know the history of the iconic aviator shades, but I do know they make everyone who wears them look more confident, more put together and just a little unreachable. There’s something intriguing about not knowing exactly what people are thinking when they’re walking toward you with a smile on their face.
2. The eye candy volleyball scene
Shirtless and sweaty, the volleyball scene highlighted the guys’ competitive natures — and their impeccably toned abs. Try not to think about how unrealistic it is to play volleyball in jeans: Get sweaty and dive for shots without getting a single grain of sand stuck to your skin.
3. Val Kilmer’s Iceman
He might have been the most arrogant flier in the sky, but he did it all with a smile that made you think — hope? — there might be a good guy somewhere underneath his trash-talking bravado. You’re cheering for him in the end, when he and Maverick put aside their differences and earn each other’s respect.
4. An entire bar singing to you
College dance floors typically involved dancing to lyrics you wouldn’t want your mother to hear, on a floor sticky enough to keep you from moving your feet more than a few inches at a time. The serenade scene in Top Gun is so wholesome it hovered on the dividing line between over-the-top and romantic.
5. “Danger Zone” flying scene
When you’re stuck walking to class every day — sometimes across a campus covered with ice and snow — or sitting on the expressway in the middle of rush hour, you can’t get anywhere fast enough. The adrenaline of catapulting through the sky in a fighter jet is enough to get anyone ready for a little excitement.
6. Dress whites and bomber jackets
The juxtaposition between the tailored Navy dress uniforms and the deconstructed leather jackets basically plays on the fantasy that your man can be almost anyone you want him to be. No matter which type of guy you are actually with, there are times when it’s fun and flirty to imagine him in a totally different persona.
7. Tom Cruise before he started jumping on talk show host’s couches
Long before (most) of us knew anything about Scientology, Tom Cruise was able to flash his smile and charm his way into our hearts. It makes perfect sense that his misunderstood bad boy set the scene for some late-night romances.
8. The allure of the open road
Poised on the precipice between adolescence and adulthood, there was something about motorcycles that tugged at the part of us that wanted to feel wind on our skin as we rode into the next phase of our lives. The mother in me cringes at the disregard for helmets, but there might always be part of me that looks at a road trip as an invitation for adventure.
9. The Maverick-Goose bromance
The friendship between Maverick and Goose might be the most compelling relationship in the movie. Poor Goose doesn’t survive to see it happen, but his death is a pivotal part of Maverick’s self-realization. Thanks for the memories, Goose.
10. Sex in the blue light
Years later, the sex scene between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis seems cliché to the point of cringe-worthy: billowy curtains, a song primed to top Billboard charts and slow, tender, missionary-style sex after a fight outside her house. For college girls looking to find redeeming qualities in quintessential bad boys, though, the scene hinted that reckless behavior was only a thin veneer covering an uncertain, loving soul ache to find the right person to crack through that exterior — and leave a paper airplane note on the nightstand if he sneaks away before the sun rises.