Thursday, December 03, 2009

Never apologize...

Tiger Woods' current mess has got me thinking about the phrase, "Never apologize, never explain."  Which Tiger certainly should have taken to heart, but let that pass.

This is one of those phrases that you hear, or read, and you can never quite remember who said it.  I had a list of names in my mind that I thought were responsible for "never apologize, never explain" - they included Disraeli, Napoleon, and the Duke of Wellington.  I'm not the only one who thought of this in connection with Mr. Woods, and there's been some web discussion, which led me to Google the phrase.

Apparently nobody knows where it really came from.  What seems to be the authoritative research was done on a site called Ask Metafilter - I've found multiple links to it and of course, here's another one.  One source, according to Metafilter, is:
... the screenplay for the 1949 film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, written by Frank S. Nugent and Laurence Stallings. The line is spoken by John Wayne and the exact quote reads, "Never apologize and never explain--it's a sign of weakness."
Evidently I had the wrong Duke.  The Ask Metafilter site has a series of posts about the phrase, and a lot of interesting back story, but apparently none of the people I had it associated with ever said it.  So much for my erudition; John Wayne, indeed.  I've never even seen She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.  If you read the whole thread, though, the screenwriters copped the line from someone - but no one is quite sure from whom.

But back to the Tiger. On December 1, the day before it all came out about the girlfriend and the voicemail message and the sheaf of emails (can emails be in a sheaf?), somebody on a local forum I follow posted the following link to the Wanda Sykes show - and Wanda summed it all up, and it's even funnier considering what came to light the next day:

Poor Tiger.  I wonder how he likes the taste of crow.


  1. I can't recall exactly where I heard the phrase either. I'm sure I read it in a poem or essay by someone in the New York School of Poets -- probably by Berrigan or someone like that. A toss-away line.

    I'm not sure I'm sorry for Tiger. Everyone says it's his "squeaky clean image" that's reached around and bitten him--is an "image" something you ride like a mount? --well, whatever. His squeaky clean Nordic wife seems to have really lost her temper with him that night. Mothers-in-law in attendance! Yikes!

    Anyone who could play golf as well as he can, certainly must have a strong will. Maybe it was a frustration with circumstance that drove him to flee. Perhaps the same self-centered drive that made him seek the company of Las Vegas bimbos on those lonely nights away from home.

  2. I'm ignoring the Tiger Woods imbroglio, but I have to recommend She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. It's one of the best John Wayne films (the best is almost certainly The Searchers), and it won an Oscar for cinematography (with Monument Valley as the backdrop, it should have!).

  3. Wanda Sykes. Awesome.