Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tiger’s rough lie II

In re the matter and predicament of one Eldrick Tont Woods: We’re right on the edge, folks, tiptoeing up to that blurry line of no return, that hazy point where it’s harder and harder to wring any more funny out of all this.

When it started, with the fetching Rachel Uchitel, we were ready to smirk with our eyebrows lifted and say something about how maybe Tiger’s best drives weren’t on the golf course.

But that was six disasters ago, and that’s not even counting the Escalade wreck that punched the first hole in the most controlled and image-conscious façade in the history of American sports merchandising.

Since then, we’ve discovered Jamie Grubbs, Kalika Moquin, Jamie Jungers, Mindy Lawton, Cori Rist and Holly Sampson — a list of names for now, some with as-yet unsubstantiated claims despite their sly walkup to the billion-dollar Tiger Woods buffet.

But these serial announcements — heeere’s the Bimbette of the Day! — have already done damage to Tiger’s persona and his biography. And all of a sudden, the matter of a single dalliance most men and women could probably understand and forgive has turned into something just this side of pathological.

They’re still extracting humor from this in ways that cross the threshold of reality; now Tiger’s entered the objectifying realm of the cartoon.

Proof? The wiseasses at break.com created “Tiger Hunting,” an on-site video game in which you “help Tiger escape his angry wife by guiding his Escalade through the obstacles.”

And then there’s the work of Apple Daily News, a Taiwanese news source whose fanciful but graphically faithful computer-generated “recreations” of what may or may not have happened the morning of Nov. 27 — and the months and years leading up to that crash in Florida — have been heavily trafficked on YouTube for the last week.

But the funny has pretty much ended with the latest alarming claims: that Tiger is reportedly a fan of sex on Ambien; that Tiger was a big fan of sex in places that risked being caught in public; that Tiger went to the hospital after the Escalade crash with trouble breathing, and was admitted as a victim of an overdose; that, according to TMZ Elin Nordegren Woods, Tiger’s wife, gave paramedics two pill bottles at the accident scene – one for Ambien, one for Vicodin; that, according to RadarOnline, Elin has moved out of their residence, and into a house nearby.

All at once, we’re beginning to get a queasy feeling, a sense of Icarus auguring in for a bad crash landing. Maybe it’s because the scope of this thing is still undetermined. The Tiger debacle still has no contours; there’s no finality to get our heads around. It's got all the earmarks of one of those toxic media artichokes, day after day each new layer revealing something more troubling, more sordid, than the day before.

And it can’t be funny when there are children involved.  You have to wonder what Sam and Charlie thought when Elin Woods, their mother and Tiger’s wife, bundled them into the necessary limousine and whisked them away from the estate in Windermere. Sam, all of 3 years old, was bound to ask: “Mommy … mommy, where’s daddy?” We don’t need an Apple Daily recreation to tell us that.

It’s starting to feel like we’ve been here before. Helpless to observe a train wreck we couldn’t predict, one we were powerless to prevent.

We’re still hoping that somehow, Tiger (relatively quiet since his sojourn in the deep rough began) will step up and put this in some kind of perspective; we hope Tiger will impart the shape of reality, or at least clarification, to a runaway public narrative, one that doesn’t abhor the vacuum of Woods' silence as much as it feeds on that silence for survival.

For Tiger, this is no opportunity for the superhuman feats he’s performed with golf clubs and towering courage. This is no CGI moment. It’s as real as real can get.
Image credits: CGI Tiger: Apple Daily News. Cori Rist: CelebrityVibe via New York Daily News. Tiger Hunting images: Break.com.

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