She wears silk underwear. She said it keeps her warmer. “Silk is a really insulating fabric,” she told me once, one time when we were lying against each other on her couch and her shirt was unbuttoned and opened just slightly enough that I could get a glimpse, deep red silk with an intricate design crowning the top. I was running my eyes along that design, which for just that moment suggested that if I could just figure out the language in the pattern, I could understand why that narrow little window into the hidden world beneath her shirt seemed to contain the whole mystery of living. She said, “I need the insulation. I didn’t grow up with this cold. I need all the warmth I can get.” It was very matter-of-fact, as if a silk bra promising to unlock the secret of the universe were a matter-of-fact thing.
The fabric is sleek and light and I still can’t quite believe it insulates. I parted her shirt a little, like pulling back a curtain. The pattern was a lace thing on the top of the cups, which were of an even deeper red, suspended there while her breath made her chest rise and fall. I guess I understand now why someone would buy a fancy bra like that, even if it wasn’t just for insulation. I had never seen such a beautiful thing.
Working around her for so long, I knew she wore some kind of exotic bra. I might see a flash of a deep red strap when she was carrying boxes of food in from the car to put them in the fridge, or a dark shadow beneath her light t-shirt, late on a warm day when it had gotten pretty hot inside the cafe and we were cleaning up and wet with sweat. And I guess I noticed it because I had never seen underwear that color before. Nobody I knew had dressed up that way. I don’t know what other people think about if they’ve noticed that, when she’s wiping the counter at the cafe or whatever. I imagine there were some opinions. She told me once that when she and Erik first came to Jericho a rumor started going around about how they had had to leave Boston because she had lived some kind of high-flying life and had been morally compromised or something. She said someone had asked Erik if she had been a stripper. God, if there was a woman who could never in a million years be a stripper. She told me her first thought was that it was antisemitic. Then she realized people didn’t even have enough experience with Jews to recognize one. Probably they had never thought about, except maybe the people who like to pass around conspiracy theories. I said, “Maybe they just didn’t know what to make of your fancy underwear, which you can see every once in awhile. Maybe people think that’s just the stuff that a stripper would wear and they don’t know what else it could be.” I don’t know if she’s convinced, though. Just as I’m still not sure I’m convinced about the insulation.