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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Honor Thy Father

The commandment is actually to honor thy father and thy mother, but lately it seems that mothers are getting the honors and dads…well, dads get the blame. For example, look at Tim Tebow and his mother—honor. Look at Tiger Woods’ and his dad—blame. Tiger Woods has the reputation (one of many) of being a loving, loyal, respectful son. Substitute “husband” or “father” for “son” and you get other reputations he once had. Also, “nice guy” and “good role model.”

Woods is attractive, likable, and seems intelligent (though one must wonder). Even someone who is so far removed from the sports scene that she thinks hockey is a game in which men hit each other with sticks and therefore likes it, that would be me, thought that Tiger Woods was a refreshingly sincere, dedicated athlete. This is why Time doesn’t let me pick “Man of the Year.”

Although “Honor thy father and thy mother” is one of the original Top Ten (commandments), its adherents belong to all faiths and no faith. Its top supporters, I suspect, are parents. When I was nine, my fourth-grade teacher (Sister Julia Michael) expanded its scope to include all authority: teachers (surprise!), policemen, politicians, laws; it basically meant do whatever you’re told. We did. Now that I am no longer a young Catholic, but an old Methodist, I learn my lessons elsewhere.

When the July 20, 2009, People” arrived in my mailbox, it was carelessly tossed aside since it was the “Goodbye, Michael” issue. I said goodbye to Michael long before he died (another fallen idol, not mine, but an idol nonetheless). When I was looking for junk to start doing the annual income tax mess, I found the magazine. Oh, how timely. Had I read it in July I would certainly have forgotten by Thanksgiving what Tiger Woods, in an interview, said about his father.

When award-winning photographer FC Etier (my husband) learned of his comments, he was flabbergasted to discover that Earl Woods was nothing more than a lying, philandering [fill in the blank]. This man, so beloved and respected by his son, Tiger, was apparently one of the worst examples of a father that you will find. No, he didn’t beat Tiger when he was a mere cub (not that we’ve heard), and he hasn’t been accused of neglect. Far worse.

Tiger Woods’ dad is the single person most responsible for the problems Woods is now experiencing. In Tiger Woods’ own words, “My dad was my best friend and greatest role model.” Aha! Woods further explained that he still feels his father’s presence and, “I think of him every day. I hear his voice when I have decisions to make.” To be fair, we don’t know if that voice is saying “No, Tiger! Stay away from that ho!” or “For God’s sake, use a condom,” and Tiger is just ignoring it. Pretty damning, though, is the statement “Everything I do and everything I am is because of him.” Everything? Case closed.

There you have it, folks. Still don’t believe? How about “A lot of things he taught me is [sic] just through example”? The only mitigating factor is that Tiger Woods is, undeniably, a liar. Which leads to another question…is he always a liar or just a part-time liar? Was he lying, in that same article, when he said “I’d just rather be home”? Hmmmm…that could be true. But what about when he discussed his $110-million income in 2008 and said, “everything else about my life is normal”? That gross misstatement of the truth lets Dad off the hook, unless Tiger meant for a “normal” horndog.

I don’t know, TW, how normal it is to blame everything on the dead guy. Sure, the government does it, but you’re an athlete. We hold you to a higher standard. While there are some feats attributed to you during your escapades that some “normal” guys might envy, on the whole there’s not too many of us out here that would call you normal. And right now, there are a whole lot of people (sponsors and common folk) who just wouldn’t call you at all.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guilty Pleasures: I Slept with Tiger Woods

Actually, I’ve never slept with Tiger Woods. I’ve never met Tiger Woods. I’ve never even watched golf on television. But, in an inadequate attempt to get more hits on my blog, I thought that “I slept with Tiger Woods” was a good opening.

Currently, I have two guilty pleasures, and in this era of honesty, I am coming out of the closet to admit one of them. It’s People. Not just any people. Peoplemagazine. For some reason, I eagerly devour reports about folks I’ve never seen or heard. Who is Lauren Conrad? Heidi Montag? Leighton Meester? Blake Lively? Megan Fox? (I do know who Lauren Bacall, Robert Blake, and Jamie Foxx are, and I’ve read Heidi. As for Leighton Meester…oh well.) Obviously I’m not hip and happening enough to know who these people are and why they are celebrated. Nevertheless I have to read every issue of People. I missed two last year and was disconsolate. I am also a People snob. I only read Peopleimitators (e.g., US) when offers subscriptions for a dollar or two. Although an avid puzzler, I don’t do the puzzles. I stick to the gossip, crime stories, everyday heroes, reviews, and I occasionally read (and laugh about) the recipes. I am addicted to “celebrity” fashion, and merrily critique gowns and costumes. I do this in my mismatched living room, wearing pajama bottoms, a tank-top, and hot pink pseudo-Crocs.

I have yet to hear Rihanna, Britney Spears, Beyonce, Lady GaGa, or Jessica Simpson sing (and am in no hurry to) but I can pretty much report on their ups and downs and the bums in their lives. Jennifer Aniston? I’ve never watched
Friends, never seen her movies, and know all about her various loves. It’s weird. I will read anything printed about Britney Spears. Anything. Make a list of every day she’s been alive, publish it in People, and I’ll read it. Maybe I should live closer to my family. Not that they’d want that.

It gets weirder. Men. Yeah, that’s pretty weird right there. But the only men I will read about are the ones I
have seen or heard, unless, of course they are involved with women about whom I’ve read. If there’s an item about Spencer Pratt (who?) I’ll totally ignore it. And in some cases, I won’t ever read about a guy who’s been involved with a woman I’ve read about because he is a dog. For example, John Mayer has apparently been involved with everyone, except maybe Laura Bush, and I know this because I read about all the female everyones, but I will not read an article about this musician (?) with whom I am totally unfamiliar. Maybe this essay is a little too revealing. WWFS?*

As long as humans have been able to communicate with each other, there has been gossip. If our scientists were sophisticated enough to understand animal communications, they’d know that even dogs gossip among themselves, “Who does she think she is in that rhinestone collar, Sandra Bulldog?” As for felines…you’ve heard the term “catty” haven’t you?

Is gossip a bad thing? It depends how you look at it--are you doing the gossiping or are you the subject of it? I’ve always liked “good gossip.” That’s the kind that starts with good news (“Mark and May are getting married,” “Peg has been accepted to Harvard,” or “the Petersens are expecting”) and doesn’t end with character assassination. George Harrison once said, “Gossip is the devil’s radio”; perhaps he was right. I don’t have time for conversation that involves judging other people or their behavior. While it may make some people feel superior, I would just feel dirty. If the gossip is about someone close, isn’t it disloyalty? It is beyond me why anyone would want to say mean, hurtful things about someone else. A lot of things are beyond me, though—child abuse, infidelity,
Everyone Loves Raymond

People does offer its share of good gossip, along with a healthy dose of feel-good features. It dishes the dirt, and sometimes throws great shovelfuls around when someone like our friend Tiger Woods turns out to have fooled us all.People also does a good job of boiling down big stories to digestible chunks for those of us with short attention spans. It will cover
Haiti, but it won’t give all the details one would get from the news media. In big, sad stories that’s all some of us need. Whether it’s artifice or editorial policy, People also gives the impression it has a conscience. Unlike the supermarket tabloids, People doesn’t seem to invent stories or attempt to destroy celebrities, though it certainly will report when one is self-destructing.

I suspect that
People satisfies a need I have, a need to feel “in the loop.” Living in a small community, I don’t see women in gowns and furs or men in tuxedos. I haven’t seen a limo in years. None of my neighbors windsurf, race cars, or go to premieres. There are no glamorous night spots, and if there’s a Britney Spears, she’s being kept under wraps. I used to live in the shadow of
New York City. And, now that I think of it, I didn’t read People. I don’t miss the old life, but maybe People keeps me in touch.

* What would Freud say?