Tiger Woods and the two impostors

Tiger, Tiger, Tiger. You’re making me … re-write my manuscript.

My book, as a reminder, is about success and failure and how the two can be, as Kipling put it so poetically, impostors. The main character is Hannibal, and his story introduces the various themes that come up in the course of a life, each of which is then illuminated with other lives, ancient or modern.

Here is how I went about it:

  • Mainly I chose relatively obscure people for my characters studies, which is to say people who are interesting or known for a good reason but not ‘famous’.
  • When I did include somebody conventionally famous (and there had to be a good reason!) I focused on an obscure or non-obvious aspect of that person’s life.

Well, Tiger falls into that latter category. I examined one aspect (I won’t say which) that he shared with Hannibal, and one that he didn’t, both of which made him unbelievably successful.

And now… the babes. So many of them. They’ve started keeping a cheat sheet to keep track of them. Plus: Wives swinging golf clubs after mid-night car crashes; cable-TV know-it-alls pontificating about morality; coy mea culpas and a career inter- and perhaps dis-rupted.

What can I say? I notice that everybody suddenly has a strong opinion about this young and immature genius. Tragic hero? Victim of hubris? Pervert?

Somebody from Pakistan informs us that it is entirely normal to have lots of women if you can. Somebody else explains why black women are not mad at Tiger. And so on.

My own default position in these matters is to be cavalier. But Tiger’s self-immolation now looks to be epic in scale. And tragic if the flames sear his children.

Among athletes, Diego Maradona comes to mind–the best in his sport, only to waste it all in decadence. Among politicians (well, where do you start?), perhaps Eliot Spitzer.

Yes, they were successful. Yes, their success was an impostor, by goading them, psychologically, into self-destruction. Is it simply the old Greek theme of hubris? Was it a character flaw? More subtle?

One thing is clear: I have to adjust my manuscript.

And one other thing should not be forgotten: Kipling said triumph and disaster are impostors. Tiger is young, as is his wife (not to mention their kids). As a great advertisement featuring Tiger (before his fall) once put it:

It’s what you do next that counts.

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21 thoughts on “Tiger Woods and the two impostors

  1. How far the mighty can fall.

    Before Tiger Woods there was John Profumo (anyone remember him? or even heard of him? Hint: Profumo Scandal). As a result of his Tiger-like sexual transgressions, Profumo resigned in disgrace from being Secretary of State for War in the British cabinet. He had also belonged to the Privy Council, and had served with distinction as a Brigadier on various WW 2 battlefields, being mentioned in “dispatches”. In short, Profumo came from, and belonged to the highest echelons in British society.

    After his fall he began his penance by cleaning toilets at a charity in the poorest part of London. In a self-effacing way, he devoted the rest of his life to charity, and eventually was awarded a medal at Buckingham Palace for his work for the poor, thus regaining his position in society.

    Quite a story.

  2. Triumph and disaster are like profit and loss in the market then? A sort of quid pro quo? A general evening out?

    I know a lot of people in the village who only talk about their profits and not their losses.

    • I had quite a shock when I pressed the “submit” button and read the double meaning included. What repressed desires have emerged there?

  3. This fits nicely (IMHO) with my earlier comment about Hercules. Death was a good career move for Hercules if indeed his wife’s anticipation was justified.

    I feel strange passing judgement on people who are hugely successful? (and ‘lucky’)

    I just realized (having made a Venn diagram in my brain about the qualities of characters in your book) that I am drawn to fiction that describes obscure traits about obscure people. People not in your book. Who writes such fiction, Ms. Sabraw? I’m thinking Cheever, Maugham, Waugh. My favs. Non fiction is another story.

    • Please ignore that first question mark (above). I don’t know where it came from. It reads the way bad acting sounds. Me and the Village Id.. (I mean Gossip).

    • Of course it will be ignored, Mr Crotchety. How could it not be? Your comments are never mean or cruel. Your absence has been like an eclipse of the sun. Do not accuse yourself. Never feel you have to stroke egos. (And that doesn’t take an ‘e’ like heroes, because I checked.)

    • spot on,

      i think that is why i like this blog so much. people post my thoughts for me! indeed indeed had “his wife’s anticipation was justified”.

    • For sure Somerset Maugham. The Razor’s Edge is one of his best. Now you have me thinking…obscure traits from obscure people. How about Mann? And Zola? and Virginia Wolfe?

      How about Sinclair Lewis? Loved Arrowsmith Your humor, Mr. C, would be tickled by <Arrowsmith.

      What is interesting is how most famous people end up just like the rest of us (except they have special burial places with lots of adornments).

    • No, no. My point is that, since you organized things so succintly, I realized that traits of fictional characters that interest me are not the same as those for non fictional.

      I love this sort of thing. Let’s organize all of literature: obscure traits about obscure people, obvious traits about obscure faults, obvious faults in odd places, etc.

      This is not to say that I’m not interested in your book (yawn) when your publisher gets around to it. Your patience is an inspiration.

    • What is so inspirational about A’s patience?

      After all, he has a book contract and will be published. He’ll go on a book tour. Groupies will want his autograph and meaningful comments on their purchased books. ( I know because I have signed books from Amy Tan and Mignon Fogarty and Billy Collins who all said To Cheri…I wish you happy reading…blah…blah…)

      You and I, Mr. C, two people who have read this blog– almost from its inception in an alley to this very wintery morning– now WE are the people holding up the patience sign ( Andreas 813.52 ) behind the goal posts.

      By the time this book is published, you and I may have moved on…


    • Oh, but I have no patience at all.

      But what can I do? It’s out of my hands. If we’d gone according to my schedule, it would have been out last summer and I’d be on to the second one.

    • You mean, AK could be the next Tiger? The higher they climb, the farther they fall? One week he’s the pedant’s poster boy, the next week he’s Prejean’s publicist. We see AK and Prejean on Donald Trump’s yacht in a blurred photo in the supermarket tabloid. A stock photo of his wife and children photographed on the steps of the library look on with tears in their eyes. Little Andreas is holding a copy of the OED and a yoga mat, waving good bye. I wasn’t going to blame the publisher, but he (AK) probably hasn’t gotten me anything for Christmas yet. (There, I said it. Christmas). *Starbuck’s gift cards make a great last-minute holiday gift.*

  4. This post reminds me of something that has been bothering me about the Heroes thread discussion and it probably all comes back to my hang up about the need to define terms. Is Tiger Woods a hero, heroic, great? He is a very good golfer. I imagine that there are some very good fork lift drivers (Klaus excluded), golf course mowers, window washers, etc., who may live equally duplicitous and sordid lives. If their partner finds out, are they victims of hubris or heroic tragedy? If no, then why does Tiger Woods deserve such analysis? If yes, then aren’t we talking about ‘normal’ human travails?

    So in purely human terms, what is going on with Tiger Woods? Is it schadenfreude on the part of all of us who cannot do what he does and earn the money he does? Is it because we (probably wrongly) assume that excellence in one aspect of life means excellence in all aspects? Is it because our lives are so boring and insignificant that we have to create an uber society of royalty/ celebrities to emulate and envy and delight in exposure of their foibles?

    I wonder if a discussion of heroes should also include an exploration of our need to have heroes in our lives.

    • Good thoughts, but just to clarify: We’re not calling Tiger a hero. (Ie, this post was NOT part of that thread). A genius, yes.

      Also, a friend who read this post just emailed me this:

      Hey, Hannibal showed up on my Bloglines this morning and the fact that you wrote “young and immature genius” leapt out at me. It’s the second time I’ve read this; in an AP article in my local paper, Tiger’s agent asked reporters to “Give the kid a break.”

      Do you think we’re stuck in a way of looking at Tiger that’s fifteen years old? When he was eighteen and got caught out in that Esquire article he was an immature genius; now he’s a 34-year-old father. If he were in the US Army at this age he would be a Captain, in charge of maybe 150 soldiers.

      My point was not to correct you, but your your word choice triggered a question: do you think that Tiger’s locked-down brand machine has kept us imagining him as the same Wunderkind we were introduced to more than a decade ago? Do you think that some of this disappointment is based not on just new information about a man, but the shattering of the myth of a boy?

      I like that: “shattering the myth of a boy”

  5. The point about Profumo, Phil, was that he lied to the House. All the rest, apparently, was highly commendable. The Denning Report (I’ve lost my copy) was a bestseller at the time.

    • Yours is a good reminder, Village Gossip, that, yes, lying to the House of Commons (or what Churchill called engaging in a “terminological inexactitude”) was absolutely not cricket, and the bounder who did this got his just desserts.

      But, if memory serves me correctly, Christine Keeler, with whom Profumo allegedly slept, was also allegedly sleeping with a Soviet naval attache to Britain. This also wasn’t cricket, given the Cold War.

      It’s all coming back now……..Mandy Rice-Davies, Stephen Ward, Peter Rachman…….where are they now?

      Incidentally, for lovers of film among the commentors on the HB, I recommend a just-released film, called “An Education”, set in the Britain of around the time of the Profumo Scandal.

      “An Education” invokes the name of Peter Rachman, and deals with the issue of young women and education, and reminds us that until relatively recently, most mothers and fathers considered it a waste of money to send their daughters to university, because they would go there just to get their MRS (this used to be a joke in the times of the Profumo Scandal).

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