- November 10, 2021
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Shrinking violet? Secondhand rose? Please. Our gov is so together she’s tighter than a Lego block.
Gov. Kathy Hochul arrived in my home exactly 6:15. Departure precisely 7:15. No handbag, phone or emergency Kleenex. No need for the john or a button sewn. Pantsuit creaseless. No stain or rumple. “Fresh clothes are in my car. It’s where I get dressed,” she said.
Indecisive as a rocket. “Penn Station’s a hellhole. New Yorkers shouldn’t have that. I’ll redo it and change the name. Why’s Penn Station named for another state?” She’s controlled. No grazing my hors d’oeuvres like an unemployed actor. She sampled. Her father was a steelworker. She knows tough.
“Empathy came from my mother. Risk from my father. My mother’s sign on the refrigerator read ‘Go into the world and do good.’ A social justice Catholic, she opposed the Vietnam War, went to rallies, talked civil rights at the dinner table. At 10 I knew about Martin Luther King.
“No money. Home was a trailer park. Me, sassy even at that age. Rebellious with the nuns. When I talked back my mother pulled me out and into public school. I’m second oldest of six kids. My brothers played sports. I didn’t. I watched. Felt inferior. Not your normal kid,
I was nerdy. Bullied. Not one of the cool kids, I got knocked around.”
“I was rebellious. Homely. Crooked teeth. Bad skin. Not an attractive teenager. I babysat and worked four nights a week making pizzas with an abusive boss. After working for hours Saturday and Sunday, I wanted one day off to graduate. The boss said, ‘Piss on that. Shut up or you’re fired.’ But I wasn’t, because he needed me to make the chicken wings.
“In high school I was never voted the one likely to succeed. I belonged to no glee club. No time. I had to work. In college, Syracuse U, I was very plain-looking . . . My mother said, ‘Put makeup on.’ My sister taught me about cosmetics. I cleaned up and became an associate with an old established Washington law firm. The only woman in the room. When they offered me a cigar I said, ‘Thanks. Not my brand.’ ”
After marrying an attorney who prosecuted terrorists and assorted bad guys, then what?
“I needed baby care. It was stay with Sen. [Daniel] Moynihan or go back home. So I walked away, returned to Buffalo and dragged those kids door to door working for social causes. The era was a hotbed of activism and signs began to happen. I’m a dealmaker. I know the state better than anybody. Nobody’s more qualified. So I saw options . . . Told I’d lose, I still ran for Congress. Fear is debilitating. I’m fearless. Halloween, the Republican party demonized me on a broom dripping blood. Scarring people. I have scars. But it made me tougher.
“People said I’d never make lieutenant governor. I’m still standing. My mother was raised by a single mother. There’s the toughness. Never let anyone underestimate you — but always have heart. One reporter said, ‘It’s an iron fist in a velvet glove, but you don’t want to take that glove off.’ I’ll do a handshake but if I have to punch, I will. Being against me is only an issue — it’s not personal.”
OK, but when she’s not being a lion tamer, what’s existence like?
“Still my same weight. PowerBar in the car. Cup of tea.” [Spoken through my chocolate chip cookie.] “Do my own makeup. Set of curlers in my room which I put in myself. My hairstylist’s in Buffalo.” [Since NYC has the greatest beauty salons in captivity, Buffalo’s like ordering a custom evening gown in Yuma!] “Stop at Shake Shack wearing a baseball hat. What I need is a facial and a manicure.
“But I tell you one thing. I’m going to fight.”.
How come all this about her early days and upbringing and who she was growing up none of us ever knew before?
“Because nobody ever asked me.”
Oy. Only in New York, kids, only in New York.