Ask a lot of New Yorkers what they remember about Hurricane Sandy, and they are likely to reply “Lydia Callis is amaaaaaaazing.” Callis, the ASL interpreter who became an internet sensation over the past few days as she translated Bloomberg’s pedestrian storm instructions into ASL — and thus into something much more beautiful, interesting, and, in moments, almost operatic — was one of those unlikely heroes who emerges from a disaster. She might not have carried people out of burning buildings, but she did save New York in lots of other ways.
What are those ways? Well, she reminded New Yorkers that despite being underwater, they’re still the best. In New York City, even the mayor’s ASL interpreter is a work of art, in a separate class from all the others. And Callis’ incredibly animated face brought drama to what were otherwise grim proceedings. Could you truly be overwhelmed by panic while watching her? Or would the anxiety just have to loosen its hold a bit?
And then, of course, there’s the hotness. She even looks good standing next to Bloomberg, who has the sort of drippy presence that tends not to throw those standing around him into gorgeous relief, but instead envelops them in his sort of plodding non-personness. Her hotness assured New Yorkers that even though the world was ending, even though sadly they might be seeing more and more mayors telling them to stay indoors and not panic, such announcements will, for the near future, also be sort of stimulating. They say you can’t put lipstick on a pig, but if Sandy was the pig, Callis was the lipstick. The Tumblr feeds that immediately sprang up around her will attest to that.
I, like you perhaps, would very much prefer to think that the world is not ending. I have been reading about past hurricanes in New York City, trying to convince myself that Sandy was just nature doing what nature does, just like it did in 1938, 1954, and 1821. This provides little comfort. But it is comforting to know that New Yorkers could come together and agree that yeah, Lydia Callis is hot. In this one situation, at least, nature was being its same old uncomplicated self.