Everywhere Marie Folger goes people point at her.
She goes shopping or to dinner, and people take notice, immediately recognizing her face from her picture in local newspapers, national television and even a syndicated story in the New York Times.
Someone always recognizes the fact that she had once posed for a picture with Tom Cruise.
"They point at me and say you're the one," Marie says one late December day a few weeks after filming of Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds had ceased in Bayonne.
In her store where Cruise came for espresso one day in October, Marie seems a little startled by the attention, as if she had become a movie star just by rubbing shoulders with one of the biggest movie stars of our time. Her eyes show an odd look, a mixture of pride, awe and - concern.
While she admires Tom Cruise and cherishes that moment when she got to meet him face to face, got to sit in her café and listen to him talk about the film in which he is starring, she seems unable to understand how she suddenly became a celebrity because two local police officers directed the star to her store when he asked about places to purchase coffee.
"People have been calling on the telephone to ask if Tom Cruise is here," she says, washing her hands after making a sandwich for one of her customers. "They seem to think he's here all the time."
She's received Christmas cards, too. Perhaps the people sending them are joking when they address the cards to her, her husband, her family and Tom Cruise. But she isn't sure.
Most the attention comes from local residents who know her and have seen a lot of the local media featuring her and her café, Chez Marie on West 22nd Street in Bayonne. But some people - she's never seen before - walk through her doors and glance around as if expecting Tom Cruise to pop up from behind the counter, reverting to a former job when he had worked as a waiter.
Marie, of course, never tires of relating that fateful morning when her husband called her on the cellular phone to have her hurry back to the store, and how she abandoned her chores to rush back on her day off to greet the move star as her husband stalled making the espresso so that he could arrive.
She remembers vividly the moment she rushed through the door.
"I ran up to him saying, `Tom, Tom,'" she recalls. "I pinched his cheeks and said, `Now I know why Ophra loves you. You're soooo cute.' I told him I loved the fact that he was a Yankee fan, too."
Marie said she admired the great patience Tom Cruise displayed, and said he was as charming in person as he was in the movies.
"He was a real gentleman," she says.
Yet she still frowns with all the attention she's been receiving, not merely from the media, but from everyone who walks in or sees her or knows her from the past.
"It's almost too much," she says.Contact Al Sullivan at email@example.com