I know, I know, you’ve all been holding your breaths, waiting to hear what I think about the Tiger Woods affair or as the French say, if they spoke French as badly as I do, L’affaire du Tigre Dubois.
So, what do I think?
That’s not to say that I don’t think there is anything to think about Tiger and his women. I’m not saying that it’s not an interesting story. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t be interested, if you are, and you probably are, even if you say you aren’t, although I’m sure you’re not as interested as the Media seems to think we all are.
It’s not even that I’m not interested. I’m certainly not claiming any sort of superior moral detachment. No hypocritical liberal sniffing that other people’s sex lives are none of our business from me. No pietistic pontificating about judging not lest ye be judged.
What I’m saying is that when I read the stories and watch the news clips nothing particular occurs to me.
I have no insights, profound or even commonplace.
My mind doesn’t go blank.
I just have trouble getting past two words.
Or, to revert again to the French, le batard heureux!
If I do manage to get past those hose two words, they’re usually by two more.
To tell you the truth, while I am interested in the story, I’m not all that interested, and that’s not because I’m not all that interested in the sex angle.
I’m just not all that interested in Tiger himself.
I don’t play or watch golf.
But to the degree I am interested in him, I am interested in him only because of how well he plays golf.
I only know who he is and care because of his amazing success on the golf course.
Off the golf course, he is a complete stranger to me. Who he is as a person, what he thinks, what he does around the house, who he does outside of the house, all of that matters to me as much as what the private life of any stranger matters to me. By matters, I mean its effect on my life not its hold on my casual interest, and without its having any real and direct effect on me, it’s not just hard to care, it’s hard to even see it. I have to work on imagining what Tiger is like as an actual human being, same as I’d have to work on imagining what your brother-in-law’s second cousin’s boss’s plumber is like if you told me a story about a contracting nightmare.
In other words, what I know about Tiger, like what I’d know about your brother-in-law’s second cousin’s boss’s plumber, is the work of imagination, which is to say, fiction.
I’d be making it all up, and what I made up would be full of projection. It’d be a story that was more about me than about that plumber or about Tiger Woods.
And if I’m going to spend time caring about what might as well be fictional characters I’m better off reading actual fiction, novels and short stories by talented writers who can invent good and truly interesting characters and who can tell me the truth about them. Simply put, whatever I think I know about Tiger Woods is pure fiction. Whatever Anthony Trollope tells me about the Reverend Mr Slope or Mrs Proudie is the truth, and I prefer the truth because I’m literal-minded that way.
As for any prurient interest I might have, again, it’s based on imagining the private life of a complete stranger, and other people’s sex lives are only intriguing to me if they spark my own erotic memories or inspire specific fantasies.
Nothing I’ve read or heard about Tiger’s running around reminds me of my own romantic and erotic past. Nothing I’ve read or heard makes me wish I was getting what Tiger’s been getting. I’ve never been a fan of the casual pickup. My cheatin’ heart doesn’t beat faster at the thought of taking home strangers. I sure wouldn’t mind being like Tiger, young, good looking, rich, famous, extremely talented, and therefore attractive to many and a wide variety of beautiful young women. But if I was those things---and assuming that I would still be me if I was---and if I was inclined to run around on my wife, I’d be more likely to have affairs than flings, and my romantic partners would be women I’d gotten to know well while on the tour, journalists, women in the business, women golfers, somebody’s wife or girlfriend. In short, I’d probably get myself in bigger trouble faster.
But I’d bet the occasions of my trouble would be sexier.
Here’s the thing, though.
If I was as young, good looking, rich, famous, talented, and as attractive to beautiful young women as Tiger is, I wouldn’t cheat on my wife---because I wouldn’t have one.
I wouldn’t be married.
Not yet, at any rate.
Last night, when I went to pick up some milk at the dairy store, I happened to overhear a bit of the conversation of some of the gang of old coots who make the place their clubhouse---The Cracker Barrel Club, the blonde calls them---who were sitting at one of the booths, having their coffee and discussing the affairs of the world. They were talking about Tiger and the thing one of them couldn’t understand was why he had gotten married, and the other men agreed they didn’t understand it either.
They did not mean they didn’t understand why he got married if he was only going to turn around and cheat on his wife.
They meant why would he risk losing all that money in a divorce.
As far as they were concerned, Tiger’s marriage was a bad business decision.
Tiger became a celebrity at a very young age, celebrity marriages are notoriously short-lived, only a moron would marry someone as rich and powerfully lawyered as Tiger Woods without an extremely favorable and tough pre-nup, Tiger’s wife doesn’t seem to be a moron, so, the Cracker Barrel Club agreed, it was Tiger who was the moron for signing a contract he should have known he was bound to break to his great cost.
The old coots weren’t being cynical. They were being realistic, and their realism about the Woods’ marriage applies to all marriages.
Marriage is not a romantic adventure. It’s an economic enterprise.
A marriage is a business deal that’s complicated by the fact that the two people who contract to it are in love with each other.
Love isn’t the reason to get married. It’s simply an asset to the business. If you’re lucky.
The reason to get married is because you’ve found someone who will make a reliable partner in the business of living a life.
The business of that business is keeping body and soul together. Marriages are partnerships dedicated to feeding, clothing, sheltering, and, if there’s money to spare for it, entertaining and comforting the partners. If there are children, then the business expands to include feeding, clothing, sheltering, educating, and, if there’s money to spare, entertaining the children.
Once upon a time, all those tasks and expenses could only be done and afforded if they were shared. And once upon a time that didn’t mean shared by only two people. Marriages merged families into larger economic enterprises, with more people to help carry the load. But it’s been a very long time since two people could live more cheaply than one, at least here in the United States, and at least among the middle class and the well-to-do.
These days, most people can afford to provide for themselves what it used to take at least two people working together to provide. Most people can buy everything essential that our ancestors needed a spouse’s talents, skills, salary, or help to acquire.
It’s still easier for a couple---a middle-class couple---but it isn’t absolutely impossible or a great hardship for a single individual to manage on his or her own.
Basically, there isn’t a good, practical reason for most people to get married, and what reasons there are things that don’t kick in until later in life.
If you’re young and reasonably well-off, that is, if you have a job that pays your rent and covers the cost of three squares a day, with money left over for other necessities like clothes and, if you’re foolish enough to live in a place where a car is required, a car and gas, marriage is in effect an agreement between two people to share living quarters while they wait around to get old together when they will then need each other.
Or it’s an agreement to raise children together.
If you’re rich or at least relatively so, then you don’t even need a spouse to help you do that. You can hire people.
(Some feminists might want to point out here that that’s what a lot of men do, only they call the hired help wives. And Tiger Woods appears to be one of those men.)
What I’m finally getting at is that there is one other thing I think about Tiger Woods. Why?
As in, why did he get married?
He’s been rich as well as famous since he was a very young man. There was no economic benefit to him and a major potential downside. Yes, his wife is beautiful, but so are the eleven (and counting) other women.
The blonde thinks that it’s a case of his wanting to have his cake and eat it too. She thinks he wanted the picture perfect traditional family and to be free to have sex with any beautiful and willing woman who came his way.
If that’s the case, though, then here’s something else I think about it all.
Tiger’s problem isn’t that he’s selfish, or compulsive, or devious, or misogynistic (in thinking that women exist only as things to be used for his pleasure or convenience). He may be all of those things, but how would I know? Like I said. He’s a stranger and whatever I think he thinks or feels is pure projection on my part---fiction.
But there is something I can objectively conclude about him.
Or rather he wasn’t as patient as Warren Beatty.
Now, leaving aside that Warren Beatty’s romantic adventures are more interesting to me than Tiger Woods’, because Beatty slept with far more interesting and beautiful women---doesn’t look to be any Julie Christies in Tiger’s many ports of call---leaving that aside, what I admire about Beatty is that he had the good sense not to get married until his days of being irresistible were just about over.
He didn’t try to have his cake and eat it too. He showed patience and discipline and self-awareness. In his way, he was considerate.
So if I was as young, good looking, rich, famous, and talented as Tiger Woods, my role model wouldn’t be Tiger Wood.
It would be Warren Beatty.
If you’re going to be a selfish, narcissistic, philandering jerk, you ought to at least be a gentleman about it.
Related: Over at the Agonist, Numerian thinks more than not much about Tiger Woods, the brand as much as the man. Read Tiger Woods Falls Into a Trap.