Tiger Woods, Mrs. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Elizabeth Weil (an unlikely trio, if there ever was one) (38 cents)

I have been so busy reading about Tiger Woods. The question is: how many women are there? The count apparently now stands at 9, although I think it’s even money that at least one of them is playing make believe. For a while I have been afraid that we will never know the answer to the question, but now realize that I was wrong. Luckily, it turns out that the Tareq and Michaele Salahi were present at each of Woods’ assignations, so that when the book is written, we will learn the truth.

The person most in the dark is of course, Mrs. Tiger Woods. Apparently, this is always the way it is. I have just read a book called “Adam’s Belle”, the memoirs of Isabel Washington Powell (she was Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.’s first wife of three or four; he was her second husband of two), an interesting (but perhaps hard to find) memoir co-authored by Joyce Burnett and published by DBM Press in Springfield VA last year. Powell was Isabel’s perfect husband, her Prince Charming, until one day after his election to Congress he told her that she would not be coming to Washington with him because, although he would always love her, he had outgrown her and had to move on (and then became very nasty with lawyers and things, trying to kick her out of her house as quickly as possible). But of course it turns out that he had been having an affair with musician (and wife #2) Hazel Scott for over a year, and even Isabel’s best friend knew but couldn’t bear telling her. So, once again, the spouse finds out last.

But of course, you never know what goes on within a marriage, do you? This is a truism, I know, but the exception that proves the rule is the marriage between Elizabeth Weil and her husband, Dan (Weil?), which was the subject of a long article in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine titled “I Have a Pretty Good Marriage”. Well, let me be the first two tell you that Elizabeth Weil is delusional – either she has made up a lot of stuff to make the reader squirm in embarrassment (delusional possibility #1) or she has convinced herself that her seemingly downright awful marriage is “pretty good”. Hard to imagine why anyone would write and publish such an article (and can’t wait to see the reaction of her two daughters when they are old enough to read it), and to think she is working on a “memoir about marriage improvement” just makes my eyes roll. The premise of the article is that her nine year old marriage is pretty good, although the not-so-good aspects she describes seem to me to be so all encompassing that a better description of the relationship would be “quite bad”, but that she decided to make it better by going through every marriage improvement program available, each of which seemed to make things much worse (which was not surprising since the various therapies each seem to focus on one more awful aspect of their partnership). Ignoring the effect of these problems on their overall relationship, she simply concludes that marriage is difficult because the closer you try to become, the more you rebel and want to be your own person.

Going back for a minute to Isabel Powell, her marriage as she describes it was quite good – born to a middle class light-skinned black family in Savannah Georgia, she and her sister Ferdi Washington, became dancers/actors in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance, a career she gave up to marry the man destined to take over the large Abyssinian Baptist Church on Riverside Drive. She had been married before, had a son, and surprisingly one night got into an argument with her husband who struck her. She was out of there immediately; he tried to make amends (it was an isolated incident apparently). She would have no part of it. He responded by committing suicide.

After Powell was elected to Congress and left her alone, she pretty much stayed alone. Alone but active, teaching and mentoring children and keeping up with some of her old acquaintances (many of whom were quite well known literary and entertainment figures), until she died last year, somewhere in her nineties. On the level of moral standing, she, as opposed to Congressman Powell, seems to rate quite high.

As to Elin Nordegren, Mrs. Tiger Woods, we will see what happens to her, and whether she will take after Isabel Washington Powell or not.

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