Growing up in Los Angeles, I discoverer the magic of cholas at an early age. A chola promised to kick my ass in 7th grade, so I left school early and ran all the way home. She was mad because I’d been hanging out with her ex-boyfriend, a Mexican boy who wore a white t-shirt with khakis and a plaid Pendleton. What the hell was his name?? The main thing about him was that he was taboo.
Fashion changes but chola style is eternal. I’ve only just realized why Amy Winehouse struck suck a resonant chord for me: She’s a Jewish chola, a hybrid I longed to be but couldn’t really pull off.
Thanks to youTube, everyone knows about cholas now and they are widely parodied. For me, they are too magnificent to make fun of. They are girls who want to kick your ass after school. They know how to use eye-liner and they look sexy in the most masculine get-up.
Mexican gangs go back several generations in Los Angeles, and have a nobility lacking in Crips and Bloods. Not that long ago, I was still planning to have my (imaginary) gang name tattooed on my bicep: “Lil’ Spiteful.” I went around asking my Hispanic friends to find out how to say ‘spiteful’ in Spanish. The closest I got was the word for ‘vengeful.’
Max grew up loving cholas, too. The first girl he ever brought home, when he was around 13, was a chola he met at Magic Mountain. She was 14 going on 25, with earrings the size of dinner plates.
His last girlfriend before the crazy one was the perfect chola, even though she was born in Israel. They met in rehab, and when he brought her home, she let me do her make-up.
It was easy to see what he loved about her. She’d been arrested fourteen times, and she could text a dirty joke at lightning speed.
All of his girlfriends were beauties. But beauty without brains was a deal-breaker for him. He always had friends who were women and he wasn’t afraid of intimacy.
God bless the Mighty Chola. Maybe I should get the tattoo after all?