This time last year, we saw Tiger Woods as a happily married man with a beautiful wife and family: a toddler, a baby. In a world of celebrity bad behavior, his was the rare happy family, and even people who didn’t care much about golf–like me–had him at least pegged as a good guy. Now, of course, he’s completely disgraced. His wasn’t just infidelity but cheating of the shoddiest kind. He’s tabloid and joke fodder, and gossip sites ( I favor the Hollywood Gossip today) are reporting that his divorce settlement will be the highest in any celebrity divorce, ever: $750 million. He’ll share “legal” custody of his now 3- and 1-year-old children, but his ex-wife will have them full time. He can never bring any other women around the kids.
And his soon-to-be-ex wife, Elin, can never, ever speak publicly about the events surrounding their divorce. No interviews. No TV. No books. Not now, not ever (even after Tiger’s death). Why? Because Tiger Woods knows that more than anything else: more than the cheating, the texting, the betrayal–what made people angry about his actions was how thoroughly he hid what now appears to be his true self. The only remaining mystery about him is whether he was able to hide from his wife and family as well. Spill that–either way–and while he will probably always be able to bring off a golf comeback, a personal comeback of the kind he seems to crave seems impossible. The only way he can replace a mask of bland public behavior is by preventing the public from ever finding out how deep his deception did or didn’t go.
Over on Famecrawler, when the details of the probably divorce settlement first began to appear, whether Elin would be right to accept confidentiality as a part of the deal was a topic of hot debate. In general, silence seems to benefit the women in these cases–for example, neither Elizabeth Edwards nor Rielle Hunter is looking particularly appealing now that they’ve opened up. And silence is bound to be better for the kids, who may have to read their father’s texts one day (I was going to quote one, but the idea of a kid reading any of them about her father makes my skin crawl…but I think I must. How does “I want to treat you rough, throw you around, spank and slap you” strike you as reading for, say, a web-savvy 9-year-old?) but can at least be spared their mother’s emotional reaction until she wants to give it to them face-to-face.
But oh, it’s so hard to imagine giving up that particular revenge. And here’s a final question: does the confidentiality cover the kids, too? Because someday, you can imagine that one or the other might want to have a say.