Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

Tiger by the Tail


The holiday season of 2009 began rudely with revelations of Tiger Wood’s
secret life, prompting thoughts on the meaning of celebrity and on who
ought to be whose heroes.

To have a tiger by the tail is to have a problem: whether to hang on or let go. Neither is much of an option, and so it is with the strange case of Tiger Woods.
I write for deadlines that are often several days before readers lay eyes on my words. More surely will come to light, given the vagaries of whatever did or did not happen in the early hours of Nov. 27. Whatever it was, Tiger needs for all of us to go find something else to do or think about than to obsess over his domestic tranquility–or lack thereof– whichever the case may be.

But the public isn’t like that. Tell them to do something, and they won’t; tell them not to, and they will, especially when it comes to their celebrities, whom they love–except when they have an excuse to stop loving them. Ain’t love grand?

All of which is to say that America stopped going to work, lost interest in the NFL and whether more troops are going to Afghanistan, and ceased to use their bedrooms for sex until by god they found out what went on that day inside and outside his home in Florida or, more precisely, what occurred before and after he got in his Escalade and when he got out.

Do I have an opinion? I sure do, and it’s worth exactly what you paid for to read this, but at least I know that, unlike some writers who think we give a damn what they say about the matter. I’ll keep mine to myself.

I caught on early in life that heroes are not worth having, especially if you expect more of them than something they are extraordinarily good at, like giving me a reason to live. I try to be my own hero, which may seem presumptive on my part, but given I’ve done so with precious little success, it’s made me sympathetic to others who have the bigger job of fulfilling all the world’s expectations.

Tiger Woods is a fabulous athlete, though I care not a fig for golf or for people who chase little balls all over the world’s greens and fairways; but the first time I saw Tiger in mid-swing, I knew I beheld perfection, and hereafter have watched televised golf only at moments that he approaches tee.

His gift however is part blessing, part curse. Now he also has to be everybody’s hero. Elsewhere on the planet, people have a more realistic view of life but America, half-grown puppy that it is, and a pampered one at that– hence all ass and appetite, demands that a talented person be the hero for their kids that they can’t and won’t be themselves. Now there’s presumption for you.

Tiger is also a “brand,” as they say: besides ogling him with our mouths open, as with all sports we throw good money after bad for anything that reeks of them–their gear, cards and memorabilia–and feel we have a personal investment, along with a claim over the brand’s life. So when something goes wrong at, say, Tiger’s house, as it does at yours and mine, we behave as if our stock fund tanked and took the farm with it.

Enter The National Enquirer, which sometimes trips over accidental truths amid its outright lies and often is the only editorial room that can first get a story out, and you have real drama. Who knew they’d be right or wrong about a supposed Tiger affair? But so he did boing somebody who didn’t live at his address and his wife turned into Cat Woman, scratched him up big-time, and he wisely split for the safety of his locked car. Let’s say further that she took his prized golf club (there’s irony for you) and blasted out its windows, the glass doing a number on his handsome mug; no, say more–say that both regretted their behavior and suddenly remembered a third party in their lives, to wit, the Golden Goose of fame and fortune–and one to be protected at all costs.

Does that hurt me? Do I lose sleep over all his endorsement income now at risk? No, because it’s his and Nike’s, not mine: my tacky little bank account stays tacky and little. Should I feel sorry for Nike? No, screw them, they stopped making the cross country shoes I counted on for years. Do I become depressed because buying his brand hats and shirts has less appeal?If the answer to any of the above were yes, I don’t need a shrink, I need Big Papi to smack me upside the head with his bat and knock some sense into me.

If you hear your kids say, as his brand suggests, “I am Tiger Woods” (dreamed up by Nike, not Tiger, you may be sure) tell them to go to the little boys or girls room and wash their mouths out with soap. Say further that their lives aren’t dependent on any celebrity, but on themselves. And if you want them to have a hero, be one for them. And if you can’t, why not?

It’s your job, not Tiger’s.

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