Oh, Tiger Woods, we hardly knew you! On the list of public figures most likely to be a philanderer, who would have put you at the top? Even though you are a pro athlete — and we all know pro athletes are prone to cheating (*cough* *cough* Kobe) — the squeaky clean image you’ve spent your entire career cultivating rendered you so impossibly vanilla that when rumors first swirled about your infidelity with some trashy New York party girl, I dismissed them immediately because I didn’t believe you were interesting enough to cheat on your wife.
Then came the car accident that doubled as a domestic dispute, followed by another trashy girl coming forward claiming that she got a look at your 9-iron, this time an L.A. cocktail waitress who sold her story to a tabloid, complete with racy texts and a voicemail purportedly from a nervous you, saying that, “Hi, this is Tiger… My wife went through my phone and may be calling you.” And then came the cherry on top — your own admission of “transgressions,” published as a statement on your Web site and followed by the standard begging for “privacy at this difficult time.”
Where to start, little cub? Let’s start with your publicist, who should be fired immediately. Because if anyone could have weathered this cheating scandal unscathed, it was you — Mr. Non-Threatening, Smiley-Faced, Mild-Mannered Family Man. The public loved you, and a good publicist would have advised you that sex-with-trashy-waitress rumors, which tend to plague less saintly men like Charlie Sheen, would slide effortlessly off your Teflon exterior and remain largely ignored by the general public as long as you followed the first rule of cheating: DENY, DENY, DENY.
This denial should also extend to your wife, who will surely tell you, “I know you did it. Just admit it,” to which you should consistently reply, “It wasn’t me.” Have we learned nothing from rap music? But wait, the damning voicemail and racy texts make a denial impossible to believe. This leads us to the second rule of cheating: never leave a trail. This means no emails, photos, letters or text messages. Voicemails should consist of the following seven words, “Hi, it’s me. Call me back, please.” If you insist on leaving something behind, take a lesson from the Bill Clinton handbook of extramarital affairs and leave only a stain on her dress. Because you are not the president, it probably won’t result in an impeachment.
And when all else fails and a suspicious car crash on Thanksgiving spirals into a media circus examining your fidelity, rule three comes in quite handy: keep a low profile until the storm passes. Living in a mansion, where every imaginable amenity is at your disposal, should make this easy. If, during this time, you find yourself tempted to release a statement on your Web site that offers an apology and admits “transgressions” that you regret with your whole heart— a statement that will only prompt more speculation and mistresses hoping for a handout to emerge (as of press time, there were eight) — consider turning off the computer and popping in a movie instead. Let your angry wife chose the title, even if it’s an awful chick flick like Marley & Me. Be sure to cry when (spoiler alert!) the dog dies.
But honestly, I don’t fault you, Tiger. Or should I call you Cheetah? Get it: Cheetah like Cheater? OK, lame joke that I’m sure you’ve heard 700 times already. Sorry. We are talking about your life here and it’s serious business, especially since you have two young children to rear and mega-million dollar endorsement deals to keep. Life is messy, love is rough, and the fact that you cheated on your wife does not make you a horrible person in my book.
The fact that you got caught, however, and then decided to play out a very private matter in the court of public opinion when you could have easily used your reputation as boy scout golfer to your advantage and kept quiet until the speculation about your life died down — the Golden Globe nominations next week would have buried this story — does make you a complete idiot in my book. Plus, the fact that you stepped out on your angel-faced, Nordic beauty wife with trashy party girls makes me think you have a serious Madonna-whore complex.
But have no fear. Your wife will stand by you because she signed a prenup, and we will also stand by you because we are a forgiving public that loves a good comeback story, and we know you’ll make it up to us. All you need to do is a bit of charity work that will remind us of your heart of gold — a charitable foundation for children should do the trick — and then agree to an exclusive interview with Barbara Walters where you will speak candidly about how you’re an imperfect person who has transgressed the past and become a better man by learning from your mistakes.
Hopefully among those lessons is how to be discreet when having affairs in the future.
Milla Goldenberg is an L.A.-based writer and editor. Visit her blog @ MillaTimes.com, or send her hate mail @ MillaGoldenberg@aol.com.