Oh, to be Tiger Woods.
Here's a guy with just about everything. Astounding natural ability honed through disciplined training to near-invincibility on the links. A knock-your-socks-off wife. More gold than Croesus. And a character supposedly matching Moses'.
But then, well, as Rutgers anthropologist Lionel Tiger (obviously no relation) has put it, Tiger -- a serial fornicator addicted to sex -- "landed himself in the worst and oldest sand trap in the world." Mr. Perfect was living a lie. The marble of his statue turned to mush.
That was November. And the golf world went nuts. How would golf survive? What about Tiger's endorsers? What about the TV ratings? What about the hundreds of millions of dollars lost to vendors of golf stuff? The horror and the dread! Oh, and his wife and kids: This must be tough for them, too.
In February, he said he was sorry for making a mess of things for his family. In perhaps the most dramatic public apology since Richard Nixon's "Checkers Speech," Tiger said he was being treated, counseled -- and the therapy would go on. Recovery would take time and hard work. His wife had told him she would accept his words, yet only through his deeds would she know whether he really meant them. He might return to golf, possibly this year.
Now it's April -- and Masters time. And there's Tiger Woods, at Augusta.
TIGER'S wanderings remind that the best and worst parts of us are the secrets we never would reveal.
It also raises, yet again, multitudinous questions about us and our culture -- and the slack we grant celebrity in the realm of forgiveness. Macro and micro questions such as....
-- Is man truly monogamous?
-- Is infidelity always wrong, or just sometimes -- especially when the doer of the deed has the looks of a Hollywood actor or Lady Diana, the ability of a Mark McGwire or Tiger Woods, the vaunted standing of a Bill Clinton or a priest?
-- Are we arrived at a gray relativistic hour -- marked not by black-and-white notions of right and wrong but by judgmentless justification, excruciating excuse, extenuating circumstances, situational ethics ("Hey, man, like, y'know, it depends"), and the collapsed moral standards of even our mainline churches?
-- Does the lie, the cover-up, compound the deed?
-- What about apology -- is it always to be believed, always sincere?
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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