My roommates moved out of my Brooklyn apartment just ahead of the pandemic, and their replacements haven’t moved in yet. (At this point, they might not move in at all.) This means I haven’t had much company in the last week, and based on current covid-19 predictions, it might be like this for a long time. I am lonely and scared and anxious, but I have mitigated some of these feelings with my day’s two bright spots: 1) My afternoon run, and 2) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily streamed press conference.
I worked in local New York news for years and developed an intense and reasonable dislike of Cuomo. He has repeatedly hindered attempts to reform the criminal justice system, he took advantage of a once largely conservative state Congress to keep progressive legislation on reproductive health from becoming law, he fucked around with the MTA so much he forced out the only useful subway leader the administration’s ever seen, etc., etc., etc.
And yet, in this time of crisis, with little concrete information available, I need Cuomo’s measured bullying, his love of circumventing the federal government, his sparring with increasingly incompetent city leadership. Not only that, but the less contact I have with other humans, the more I start to think of Cuomo as my only friend. I’ve started laughing at his little jokes. I catch myself touching my hair (not my face!) when he talks about an increase in testing capacity. I swooned when he told a reporter he had his own workout routine. I have watched a clip of him and brother Chris Cuomo bickering about their mother at least 20 times. I think I have a crush???
It seems I’ve fallen victim to Stockholm Syndrome, which Merriam-Webster defines as “the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor.” Cuomo isn’t holding me hostage so much as coronavirus is, but he is the only one telling me what to do, where I can and cannot go (anywhere), who I can and cannot see (everyone), who I can and cannot listen to (President Trump, Bill de Blasio), what I can and cannot eat (anything but pasta).
Each day, he reinforces those rules, and though at first I chafed at isolation, now I know it’s good for me. I’m being kept safe! He really cares! I have completely forgotten about his refusal to legalize marijuana or enact bail reform! I’m sure he’s doing this all for my own good, and for yours too! Should I not have voted for Cynthia Nixon???
And now, when I stream his presser on the governor’s website—every day around 11:30 a.m., complete with a PowerPoint presentation—I feel comforted. I feel alive. I feel protected. I feel... butterflies.
I text my friend Dave, a local reporter and someone I probably won’t see in person for months. “I think I love Andrew Cuomo?” I write.
“You have a deep sickness,” he responds.
It’s not just me. Suddenly, everyone loves Andrew Cuomo. Ben Smith, the New York Times’s new media columnist, wrote a column this week headlined “Andrew Cuomo is the Control Freak We All Need Right Now.” Politico ran a profile on him that digs into his past (and present?) presidential aspirations. Reporters I trust and respect keep talking about how this is Cuomo’s “finest moment.” There is also some intense discussion online over whether or not Cuomo is hot. I say yes. Sandra Lee, please let me have him.
You may think my brain is poisoned. You are probably correct. We are only about one week into New York’s tangible coronavirus crisis. No one knows how long this will last, how many people it will kill, how many jobs will ultimately be lost, or what the city will look like when we emerge.
As I sit alone in my apartment on the couch one of my roommates left behind, wondering when I can escape, if I’m already sick, if anyone will ever hug me again, if my 74-year-old father will survive this, only one thing is certain. Andrew Cuomo, Dear Leader, will take care of me. He loves me. He is the only one who is here for me. He will help me get through this.
And when I finally do, I will need an endless amount of anti-brainwash therapy so I can rightfully yell at him for using prison labor to make hand sanitizer.