Hair slicked back with a part down the middle made to perfection like Moses parted the Red Sea, her hand is usually met with a lipstick pressed bottle of Heineken before it reaches yours, and she can recite the words to “Juicy” before she can “Call Me Maybe”. Maybe you love “Party and Bulls**t” instead? No? Okay. She’ll teach Biggie 101 later on.
She smiles a smile that is hard to trust…there is a Heineken in her hand. In an unlikely matter, this is the woman that deems it appropriate to crack a joke before her counterpart does. She calls it breaking the ice; others may crown her the title “intimidating.” It is true, she judges all those who cannot recite Biggie’s “Juicy” with her, everyone should know at least the first lyric and her expectations cannot be met. This appreciation for classic tracks is enough to decide whether or not she’d be a challenge one wills to accept or not. If she takes her music this serious, what else does she take too seriously? Her beer purchasing talents must prove she has a higher degree of testosterone in her system than the vodka-loving queens, and the joke that was actually funny couldn’t be developed from the mind of a simply wit-filled woman…those are only found in the movies. She can only be Mila Kunis.
Her taste is impressive yet put in question when she orders whiskey. Who taught you about Jameson? From a woman that is consistently considered for questioning (and I am fully aware that my taste in drink, music, and hair style has only half to do with the reason for being donned intimidating), my brother taught me dark liquor was the better way to go and I listened. Maybe the past 4 years of different Cognac and Jack have enhanced my funnies? I am told I inherit more of my brother and father’s jovial personality after a couple of those.
The answer to the above questions can be found in this Chula’s upbringing, and amazingly enough has more to do with what my mother taught me rather than my uncles, cousins, brothers, and father taught me.
My beautiful mother taught me my greatest lessons right after basketball practice: stand tall and walk well in your heels. I spent 15 minutes against a wall every night Monday-Friday for the latter part of my grammar school career while my mom cooked and looked over my homework at the same time. She would test me by making me walk a straight line in heels while bearing her choice of books on top of my head and force merengue parties for 2 in my room on Fridays. There was no way the hips of a Dominican woman would stay stiff for life. I was to learn to have pride in my femininity while playing basketball, and building ramps, and running neighborhood-wide games of manhunt and red rover, which added a new scar to my growing collection every time.
As the mother to the only young female in her United States family, Mami had quite a challenge on her hands. All this child loved was wrapping her hands in oversized tube socks and learning how to fight with her brother via Jean Claude Van Damme: Street Fighter edition. Her favorite pastime consisted of practicing Michael Jackson’s Bad video, and beating her score on Crash Bandicoot. She was super good at the Crash Bandicoot and the Snowboard Kids (got lucky on Tekken, Sonic the Hedgehog was Eh once she couldn’t get past a certain level) and she wanted to be just like her older brother. She tried breakdancing, but was never really balanced enough to do that correctly. She picked up the piano for 10 years, but chose to develop writing skills instead of furthering a music career. She was coming into her own and had a rather unique rhythm to her femininity because Mami said she could do it all, so long as she remembered to stand tall, practiced her walk in heels, and dance while she could still swiftly move her hips.
When I re-tell this story, people who are opposed to gender roles are astonished and look at me with sympathetic eyes. I know they don’t understand yet, my mother was teaching me to be proud of myself. I would become an American woman with traditional values tuned to Dominican culture. A good woman, as much she gave to her husband and family, had certain demands to be respected. She would work to not give anyone, especially a man, a reason to throw something in her face. She’d work hard, play what/when she saw fit, and could not be told what to do. She knew what needed to be done, and would make sure she could count on her partner for their part as well.
Mami Chula was fierce, and it took me about 23 years to appreciate her purpose.
This intimidating woman has pride, the good kind, and rarely seeks for attention further from the one her style or Heineken may attract. She may only speak when spoken to, or have high expectations of herself and her ambitious goals, but it is doubtful she seeks to be compared to. She has standards, as all people should, and only seeks to be tended to correctly by a potential partner with whom she can mutually understand and meet needs. Mutual is the key word in this intimidating Chula’s standards.
I can admit to being the type that is usually surrounded by friends, dancing, and then when I do get approached I have the nerve to poke fun at a bad pick-up line to make the situation less awkward. I once got asked if my personality matched my face, IT’S AWKWARD. I rarely feel the need to walk up and start conversations with strangers, but I LOVE meeting people randomly…when it isn’t uncomfortably forced. The bar is not the place where I am considering anything too seriously (unless a you invade my personal space or threaten my life) so no one else should either. I am usually hoping for someone who dances well, can talk music, and has a beautiful smile. I choose whether or not I’d hand out a number based on how well a person smiles and dance, yet I’m met with men who would think it proves intelligent to start a debate or test my vocabulary. I ONLY care if you can say “drink?” and are wise enough to extend your hand to ask for a dance. If you happen to get excited when the DJ plays some 90s hits, that is just a drizzle of Hersey’s chocolate syrup. . .
Mary B: The Intimidating Chula