The narrator of "Los Boxers" speaks to a woman about her child, saying “Whoops!” as the boy spills her soda water in the Laundromat. Cisneros only includes the man’s voice, so readers only experience his side of the conversation. Making small talk with this stranger, he says, “But oh kids, they’s cute when they’re little, but by the time they start turning ugly, it’s too late, you already love them.” He then starts talking about how expensive this Laundromat is compared to one he used to go to before his wife died. This leads to a longwinded explanation of how he likes to do his laundry, as he tells her that he’d rather hang-dry his jeans than spend an extra fifty cents to use a drying machine. Rambling on, he tells the woman that she should separate her wash loads by weight, putting “towels with towels” and “jeans with jeans.”
The narrator of “Los Boxers” is marked as a lonely man by the way he eagerly seizes the opportunity to talk to a stranger. Laundromats are particularly good places for lonely people to hold long-winded conversations with people they don’t know, since everybody sits helplessly in front of their machines waiting for the clothes to finish. And although the narrator isn’t an unlikeable character—most readers probably pity him for his lonesomeness—it is true that he deigns to tell the woman he’s talking to how to do her laundry, as if she herself is incapable of successfully completing such a straightforward task.
The best way to prevent a stain from setting into clothing, the narrator of "Los Boxers" explains, is to put an ice cube on it. He proudly attributes this knowledge to his late wife, saying that though he used to think she was crazy for setting forth such an unconventional method, he now swears by her technique. “Oh boy, she was clean,” he says, describing how tidy she kept the house and all of his clothes. “Starched and ironed everything,” he says. “My socks, my T-shirts. Even ironed los boxers. Yup, drove me crazy with her ice cubes. But now that she’s dead, well, that’s just how life is.”
When the narrator says, “But now that she’s dead, well, that’s just how it is,” he abandons any attempt to make sense of his loss; instead of teasing it out and analyzing the fact that he now misses something that used to annoy him (his wife’s laundry techniques), he accepts the reality of his situation, which is that his wife is dead and never coming back. Despite his loneliness, then, he shows himself to be rather well-adjusted, a person who has made peace with the notion that life and love are fleeting.