A few months ago my faculty advisor asked if I enjoyed living with ambivalent purpose and suffering through the consequences of my wayward life decisions. When I answered with an affirmative informalism, he recommended I pursue graduate school. “The party continues,” he said with a gleam in his eye, “loans toll repayment and you don't have to get a job.” I was convinced and ran off write the graduate entrance exams. Fast-forward through an arduous process of alternately playing the vendor (“Look what I have to offer your school”) and the buyer (“But what are you offering that xyz school isn't, specifically can you offer me some money?”), I now have to make a choice between a handful of universities that, I am promised, will not disappoint the derelict.
To help make an informed decision, I have to actually visit the campuses of the schools in question. To that end, I am sitting on a scantily-cushioned waiting chair at Terminal C11/9 of Detroit Metro airport, an important regional hub in Michigan. My final destination is upstate New York. For this airport's size and puissance in the plane-flying world, it has surprisingly spartan food and entertainment offerings.
Fortunately for the Faithful Few, my walk through Terminal C did produce something more noteworthy than a rude giggle and a bottle of colored fizzy water. As I exited one of over a dozen moving walkways – “please watch your step...please watch your step” – I noticed a crowd gathered at the Martini Cove. Ever notice how airport restaurants name themselves after popular food or drink items? It's not The Watering Hole, it's Jose Cuervo's Watering Hole. It's not a Food Den, it's Coney Island Food Den. I think I had lunch in Minneapolis at the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich Shop, a glorified Subway.
The folks in the crowd were not waiting in line for overpriced and ostentatiously titled airport fare or even being remotely social. They were watching The Masters, a professional golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia, which, in the immortal voice of Jim Nantz, is on CBS. Every year the world's best golfers compete to win a claim to a hideous green jacket by trying to out-golf each other. An explanation of the “sport” of golf is both beyond the scope of this blog and utterly boring, but it suffices to say that the game more slowly than a salted slug on frozen molasses.
The disgraced Tiger Woods was getting ready to putt. He took a couple of practice swings, shook his head as if trying to banish the mental image of mistress number eight and hit the ball. It didn't go in. Woods gave his best “I'm disappointed” mime as he fell to his knees clutching his metal stick in angst. Then he got up and finished the hole with an easy stroke for par. Golf clap. The crowd dissipated quickly as soon as Tiger's infamous image left the screen. The parting mass was clear evidence for the view that the “sport” of golf is very much benefited by Tiger's scandals. My anecdotal experience here in Michigan suggests that Masters viewership will be through the roof. The number of people who tune in this week or watch the final this weekend if Tiger is playing might even rival the Super Bowl. Sure, Bill Simmons probably said it before me, but you heard it here first.
I wonder if golf would be more popular it were broadcast by Scott Hamilton, the ice skating legend. Instead of talking about dimpled girls twirling in toilet-paper dresses, he'd be commenting on dimpled golf balls being hit into holes in the grass. Using his signature grunting, Hamilton would describe the golfer's movements with an encouraging “It miiiiight go iiiiiin....Oh it did!” He could partner with the sarcastic commentator from that NBC reality show where contestants run through obstacle courses (please volunteer his name in the comment section, I'm too lazy to hunt it down) saying things like “that must have hurt” or “he'll feel that in the morning.” Now that's TV that I would watch.
Interested in locating airport goers -- any in the terminal -- who were not entranced by Tiger's performance, I spied a woman reading Cosmopolitan Magazine (Playboy for women). Her devoted attention to the text's glossy pages was not deterred by replays of the unfaithful golfer. An elderly gentleman with a legal pad was busy scribbling something important-looking. He did not look up either. Then Tiger reappeared to challenge another hole. The old man set aside his notes and the woman put down her girl porn. Woods had center stage and I looked around the terminal to see everyone sitting in rapt attention. I could have hijacked a plane right off the tarmac and no one would have noticed until Tiger left the frame.
No one, not even Fred Couples (Fred who?), demands the undivided attention garnered by Tiger Woods. The entertainment provided by his return to golf is enough, even, to make a visit to Detroit Metro interesting. Bravo Tiger!