"I am Tiger Woods," writes Mike Wise in a bracing column in today's Washington Post, "and I have poked fun at his travails because I use humor as camouflage." Not anymore.
With a history of writing awkward love letters to strapping male athletes, or comparing a dong broadcast on the Internet to a raisin up one's nose, Wise could easily have been responsible for a groaner of a "take" on the Tiger Woods situation. But the essay, in which he admits to his own improper dalliances, is raw and conflicted and pointedly honest.
Writing that hearing Woods' leaked voicemail brings him "old, awful feelings of shame, guilt, and humiliation," Wise refers to his own personal "crash site" and alludes to a long journey of self-discovery. He is not alone:
If Rick Pitino, Alex Rodriguez, David Letterman, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton and Mark Sanford are also Tiger Woods, so are many anonymous people who never played sports, hosted a TV show or ran for office.
And like the potentates and poseurs, they too probably cringe when they hear the voice mail begin, "Hey, it's Tiger," and wince when they read the explicit text messages between a panicked guy and one of his other women.
I know I did. It's a little too real. Haven't we all found ourselves on one side or another of that voicemail? Wise, in the column's most devastating graf, admits that he certainly has:
if I were to deal with the truth, if the world were to know the details of my sad, pathetic electronic communication with other women at one time in my life, the horrific embarrassment would not just send me into seclusion; it would send me off the ledge.
Wise notes that the nature of the industry is one in which "infidelity isn't merely condoned, it's strongly encouraged," and concludes by saying that "having known this hollowness, I can neither excoriate [Tiger Woods] nor exonerate him."
Maybe you can choose one. I think it's tougher than that.