context bump against it rudely. And that Caucasian culture has often (but certainly not always) viewed Latinas as “Hot Tamales,” without first even asking this (then) single Latina, “And what is your name?”
“The Myth of the Latin Woman” contains two examples of Cofer’s signature humor that enables her to present and discuss incendiary issues like racial clashes without being harsh or furious. This humor gives her direct prose a genuine gentleness and opens readers to hear and accept the truth of the sometimes humiliating experiences Cofer has faced because she is a “Latina.” Humiliation is the obvious point in a story Cofer tells about her encounter with a tuxedoed middle-aged man, “probably a corporate executive, well educated, even worldly by most standards,” who accosted her and a colleague one evening in the early 1990’s, raised his champagne glass towards her, and “half-recited, half-bellowed ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina’” as she was walking toward her room in a classy metropolitan hotel (151).
His young daughter was with him, in satin and lace, but he did not stop with the insulting song. He followed this act with a ditty shouted-and-sung to the tune of “La Bamba,” except, as Cofer summarizes wryly, “the lyrics were about a girl named María whose exploits all rhymed with her name and gonorrhea” (152). That sophisticated, brave humor flashes again when Cofer describes how she replied to this embarrassing fiasco in a tuxedo: “When he finished, I looked not at him but at his daughter. I advised her calmly never to ask her father what he had done in the army. Then I walked between them and to my room.” (152)
Cofer next reminds her reader that this same man would have been less likely to entertain a white woman with a dirty song in public. She points out that he would have more likely stifled his impulse by considering that a white woman is someone’s wife or mother or, as Cofer