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How to apologize: a primer from Tiger Woods

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we now officially exist in the Post-Tiger-Woods-Apology Era. It all started with a few forgettable murmurs, and before long, every other headline involved some new woman confirming that yes, she and Tiger Woods had been simultaneously naked. The repercussions were massive: Tiger Woods’ fanbase dwindled practically overnight, endorsements were pulled, contracts were torn in half, and stocks literally plummeted. In an ironic twist of events, his wife chased him out of the house with a golf club [1]. Simply amazing.

While people have started to revile Tiger, and consign him to being another entry on urbandictionary.com, I’ve actually begun to like him more. I assume that about 90% of celebrities are spoiled sociopaths with absolutely no conception of basic cause and effect, much less abstractions like personal responsibility. In fact, that’s what I like about a lot of them.

Now, I don’t like that Tiger cheated on his wife, or blew thousands of dollars on his escapades in Vegas. I certainly don’t like that his poor wife had to find out about all of this by inspecting his cell phone. But I do admire Tiger Woods’ confidence. He is, at the time of this writing, married to one of the most beautiful women on earth. This is a simple, widely-accepted, scientific fact. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that pure sunlight curves around her because it doesn’t want to face its own ugliness. I’ll freely admit that my own plan, in case we ever cross paths, involves a large dog-suit, a basket, a little bit of luck, and a note that details how I’m “hungwy” and “free to a gud howm ©”

Well, Tiger Woods looked at this and decided that he could do better… 16 times. He was disastrously wrong, of course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t admire the man’s moxie. And frankly, he continues to impress me, as I watch his official apology. I’ve bolded the take-home points, but read carefully anyway, folks. There might be a quiz afterwards.

Things to take away from Tiger Woods Apology Conference:

· Always wear khakis when you apologize for something like this. I’m not sure I see the connection, but I haven’t won several Masters tournaments either. Just remember that it’s key to look like you’re doing a fake newscast for your 8th grade civics class when you’re addressing the issue of how many creepy pelvises you’ve recently been in contact with.

· His wife’s name is pronounced EE-lin, and not EH-lin, like I originally thought. Or, very possibly, he’s the one pronouncing it wrong, because he forgot it about 3-4 Hooters waitresses ago. Either way, he’s saying it with confidence.

· When you’ve done something stupid, the best way to look good is to take on too much responsibility. What he did wasn’t especially admirable, but Tiger’s acting as though he was busy putting a fire out at the animal shelter, and just wasn’t fast enough to catch the giant globe that fell off the top of the Daily Planet before it landed on a school bus.

· “I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply.” Think about what golf really is. My theory is that when you’re married to a supermodel, endorsed by multiple companies, and personally richer than some countries because you happen to be some kind of savant at wearing collared shirts/bonking things, then it’s probably safe to say that normal rules don’t apply. Sh*t, gravity might not even apply. But it’s nice of him to say it anyway.

· Always take the high road: When he started to say “I ran through” I thought he’d finish with “this many bitches,” and hold his hands really far apart. Then he’d sort of nod knowingly at the audience, and maybe raise his eyebrows. Instead it was “the rules that a married couple should live by,” which was sort of a letdown, but probably the wiser of two choices.

· Visual placement is important. I’m really enjoying the close-ups of how disappointed his mom looks. I bet she grabbed him by the ear and gave him quite the lecture. And I don’t know the stern-looking frumps on either side of her, but they seem like very solid choices to me. It reinforces the message that he did something wrong, but doesn’t present him with any new temptations. It’s the same theory behind placing the fruit juices prominently on the snack table at AA meetings.

· Some things are best left unsaid: “It’s not what you achieve in life, it’s what you overcome.” Tiger once heard this and believes it’s true. I like to think that it was from a really sleazy chick with an orange tan, and she was pointing to the giant dollar-sign belt holding up her snakeskin pants. But he doesn’t have to tell us every last detail.

· In a move clearly calculated to minimize danger, Elin is absolutely nowhere to be seen. There’s any number of reasons why she isn’t there, but my guess is that Tiger was worried she might love him so much that she’d just start slamming his head into the podium until she turned it into borscht. Sometimes, the line between affection and money-stifled, importunate rage is almost indiscernible.

· Deciding to just get it all out on the table, Tiger goes on to talk about other accusations he’s faced – specifically, when he was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs. But when was that? And what the hell would you use them for in golf? I’ve taken a look at some of history’s greatest golfers, and as a rule, they look as though somebody put Jabba the Hutt on a forklift and then repeatedly dropped him into dumpsters full of sweater vests and stupid hats until something stuck.

· I wanted to make a Buddhist joke about Tiger’s mom somewhere in here, but thought “Hey, that’s racist.” But then Tiger brings it up at the 10:24 mark, and it turns out that not only did she teach him Buddhism, but that he’s practiced it for most of his life. Also, I know that yoga and Buddhism aren’t precisely the same thing, but there’s a sexy “downward dog” joke somewhere in all of this, and I just can’t seem to find it. Maybe I should be the one apologizing.

· “I. ask you. To one day. Find room in. your heart. To believe. In me. Again.” His speech writer has obviously told him to go slowly, and pause meaningfully. I’m not really on board with this, to be honest. This entire apology could have taken five minutes if Tiger hadn’t decided to think and read in slow-goddamn-motion. Are his speech cards written in some sort of elementary code? He sounds as though some mean-spirited geneticist decided to create a hybrid dumb five year old/crash test dummy and then taught it to read by dropping a box of thesauruses on its head.

[1] As a comedy writer, I have to admit this is pretty proves the theory of intelligent design.


Joe Sapien

Joe Sapien is a regular columnist. He is currently floundering through grad school and running up debt. He never got to be a bully as a child, but he would have been pretty good at it.

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