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Friday, February 26, 2010


As with the terrible verbal crime committed recently by Rahm Emanuel against Mrs. Palin and her son (Google “retarded”), breaking news requires that DBD set aside its regularly scheduled post. Tiger Woods has at last emerged from his long night of the soul. Finally he has shared with a rapt world his guilt, his acceptance of his guilt, and more of his guilt. It would be wrong just to continue on our frivolous way, as though nothing had happened. We trust you understand.

Anyone on the planet who has not watched Tiger in this important moment in his life and in the life of golf and in the lives of twelve or fifteen of his sex partners, and his wife and mom, and his endorsement sponsors is either conducting research deep below the earth’s crust, or is suffering from a terminal illness, and has elected in favor of cryogenic suspension.

Commentators are divided in their reactions. One school of thought points to Tiger’s lack of emotion while delivering his remarks, presenting himself in the stoic pose of someone unaccustomed to waiting in lines, but resigned to the indignity. These analysts see Tiger as a narcissist displaying the self-absorption typical of such people. So viewed, he is devoid of any actual concern for his wife, children, or the team of sexual athletes whose studio glossies (we must assume his choices are confined to women in show business) figured relentlessly during the color commentary.

The other school or view (I was going to say position, but that would almost certainly be seized on by cynics and the prurient in unintended ways) sees Tiger as having made the first, painful step on a long journey--on foot, not in a Buick--down the cart path leading eventually to redemption.

These folks see in Tiger’s performance a young man whose jacket was suitably dark, the somber effect offset by a tasteful dress shirt open at the collar. They are satisfied he thus established an image both serious and informal, as befits the world’s most successful—for now—philanderer. They believe what they heard, and were moved by the embrace he gave his mother after proving to her he wasn’t just about golf, but could also read. Presumably, they also thought it made perfect sense for him to work from a script, never deviate from it, and refuse to take questions.

These people almost certainly enjoyed President Bush’s press conferences, conducted in the same manner, and occurring with about the same frequency as Woods’ apologies.

My own view favors the narcissism theory, but with modifications. First, narcissism is a great word. Seeing a public figure described as a narcissist appeals to me, because I am a narcissist. Especially when I am on the treadmill, looking at myself in the mirror in front of me. But I am not a narcissist when I glance to my right and see myself mirrored in profile.

But aside from being a great word, using “narcissism” to describe Tiger Woods lends to this whole issue a medical or diagnostic aspect. Like “sex addiction,” it contributes to the story what might be called “gravitas.” That is, high seriousness. I want the news to communicate matters of importance, so I think it’s better if coverage of Tiger Woods is treated this way.

But I must add that I think the really gravitas issue is being neglected: if Tiger Woods hadn’t been caught, either by his wife or by all the people making a living off the story, what would any of it matter?

I happen to believe Tiger thinks this as well. At last alone in his massive walk-in closet—his favorite place--hanging up his dark sport coat and then changing into a polo shirt bearing the logo of whatever company he still has a contract with, I see him looking narcissistically into his mirror and asking, “What’s the problem? How am I supposed to feel anything? I know golf really well, that’s all. I’m the best, but anyone watching knows I hate the game. The crowds--disgusting. Ever see me smile on the course? How about the fist jabs at the sky when I sink a put, or win—do I look like a happy camper to you? As far as the rest of it goes, I don’t know shit from Shinola about all this moral crap, all this role-model BS. From the age of six, dad was on my case about one thing. Golf. And that’s what I know now, so give me a break.”

Afterthought: You have to wonder how much story this would be, were we talking about Eldrick instead of Tiger. That’s Woods’ given name. “Today, Eldrick Woods broke his silence” just doesn’t have the same newsworthiness, does it? It’s a little like what happens when you drop the catchy nickname used by the former governor of Massachusetts in favor of his real name, Willard.

Eldrick Tont Woods and Willard Mitt Romney—now there’s a dream ticket for you.


  1. Don't sell yourself short on the narcissism; it's more a matter of self-absorption than of self-delight, so just trying to reconcile the two mirrored images (if done with any real attention) let's you check off some DSM-IV criteria, right there. Poor Eldrick never stood a chance to develop normally. I think your imagined conversation in his walk-in closet is a hole-in-one. And thanks for pointing out that he hates golf...I sensed that, but never really formulated it; it explains why I never enjoyed watching him play, even when I was thoroughly enjoying watching his opponents. There's no depression as bleak as narcissistic depression.

  2. Nance,
    As always, your comment is every bit as good as--if not better than--anything in my posting, and I thank you. Although I play fast and loose with Woods (getting my nose rubbed over and over in trivia presented as Something Big will do that),I really do think he probably hates golf. But his dead father is still "on his case," and probably always will be. Money and mistresses won't alter that.


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