Forget Stand By Your Man , that righteous anthem of marital propping up. The theme song - and perhaps end song - for the Tiger Woods saga has now inevitably moved to Tammy Wynette's other big hit, the sadder but wiser D-I-V-O-R-C-E .
According to news reports, Mr. Woods's 29-year-old wife, Elin Nordegren, is committed to divorcing her pathologically unfaithful husband. They will apparently make it official after Christmas, and word is she has already bought an estate in Sweden and hired a lawyer with the unlikely name of Sorrell Trope. (Jaimee Grubb? Sorrell Trope? Is Charles Dickens writing this serial?)
Well, cue the applause: Tiger Woods may be the athlete of the decade, but he's a disaster of a husband. It's downright ridiculous to expect Ms. Nordegren to stay loyal to this man. When the number of his reported extramarital sex partners hit double digits, and the details were salacious enough to qualify as internet porn, it became clear he is not just a far-too-human, errant husband - he is a man with a disturbingly flawed character and absolutely no regard for his wife or his marriage. None. Zip. Zero.
Perhaps the funniest and most pathetic comment I saw on one website was, "There is no hope for this marriage. There was a smattering of hope seven mistresses ago, but not any more." As if five, six or seven mistresses was the cut-off point in the can-this-marriage-be-saved-sweepstakes. Well, I guess marriage does get cheaper by the dozen: When 12 or so women have had sex with your husband during your five-year marriage, he kind of ceases to be your husband.
It may be old fashioned to talk about respect being an integral part of marriage, but because love naturally waxes and wanes in even good partnerships, it has to be. Tiger Woods' behaviour showed such a lack of regard for his wife and their life together that nobody in the world, nobody even in his world - his sponsors, his fans, probably his own family - could rationally expect her to soldier on.
Why should she? No one should have to live with this level of disloyalty and disrespect. For one thing, the kind of anger it engenders in the betrayed partner is not just hard on golf clubs. It's emotionally corrosive. You can't be a good parent or a productive person when you are engulfed by rage.
Elin Nordegren is young and gorgeous, with two beautiful very young children and a whole life ahead of her. She'll be rich as stink and so long as she doesn't embark on a punitive custody crusade against her husband - no matter what, he should have fair and equitable access to his kids - she should, as one website says, Run Elin Run.
Ms. Nordegren may have some measure of revenge in mind. According to one strange rumour, she may be striking a marketing deal with Puma - to do what exactly? - which is in direct competition with her husband's sponsor Nike.
I think, however, the real payback is being taken care of by the cosmos, generated on a macro level that Elin Nordegren doesn't need to engineer: Tiger Woods, nature's aristocrat, the athletic icon, all concentration and focus, all upright and excellent, has already been firmly displaced in most people's minds by someone not just imperfect - most of us would accept that - but deeply unlikeable . The relentless outpouring of personal dribs and drabs revealing who he really is has painted a devastating picture: cold-hearted (he apparently sent one legitimate pre-marriage girlfriend a scathingly cruel breakup letter). Cheap (one of his dalliance partners said this billionaire role model would ask in restaurants for free meals "because he was Tiger Woods"). Arrogant (he wouldn't even easily shake hands with kids on the course).
As these unsettling descriptions of a Tiger Woods his fans never knew filtered out, it actually made me more interested in this tale - not for the sexy bits, but for the age-old ethos of the slipped mask, the inadvertently revealed character.
"He's like the Mozart of golf," says one woman I know, who is smart enough not to be interested in yet another sleazy tale of celebrity adultery yet can't help, like the rest of us, analyzing the Tiger Woods story. "He was created by his father, everything was devoted to nurturing his genius, and yet, where is the moral centre of Tiger Woods?"
Perhaps on a sailboat called Privacy (hmm, maybe not Dickens, but Danielle Steele). For, despite putting his career on hold to focus his "attention on being a better husband, father, and person," Tiger Woods has apparently gone off to his yacht, no doubt surrounded by loyalists and perhaps sexting anyone he wants to. Now the real pathos begins.
Start running, Elin. And don't look back.