The Bitter Truth About Celebrity

Tiger Woods of the US reacts after putting on the 18th green during the second round of the British Open Golf championship, at the Turnberry golf course, Scotland, July 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
AP Photo/Matt Dunham

I was at a lunch in Houston this week where I met one of my longtime heroes, the great home run hitter Hank Aaron. After watching him shake hands and chat with the hordes of people who came up to meet him, I told him it was a pleasure to meet a famous person who was just the way I thought he would be.

Arnold Palmer, the great golfer, was the same way. If Palmer ever ate in a restaurant without being interrupted by a dozen people who wanted to meet him, it went unrecorded. But he always got up, shook hands, and wished them well.

Which is why I loved the story John Feinstein told in the Washington Post about the lunch Palmer had with a 21-year-old Tiger Woods, the year Woods won his first Masters.

Tiger opened up to Palmer. He said he couldn't be a normal 21 year old because he had to sign autographs, talk to the media, do photo shoots for sponsors.

"It just never ends," he said.

"You're right," Palmer replied. "Normal 21-year-olds don't have $50 million in the bank. If you want to be normal, give the money back."

Tiger Woods is 34 and close to a billion dollars now in worth, but as his life came apart last week, he was still complaining about being put upon, about being unable to lead a normal life.

Sorry Tiger, we all make mistakes, but if you wanted to be normal you should have taken Arnie's advice, just played golf with your friends on Saturdays like the rest of us and I promise you no one would have cared what you did - except maybe your wife.