My zip is 10012. To most people that doesn’t mean anything. If your zip was 75460, for example, you probably wouldn’t have the slightest idea where 10012 was, and for that matter I wouldn’t know where you were either. But for retailers, real estate hounds, online sellers—I mean a lot. I live on the gold coast of consumer heaven. 10012 means I have money to burn. I am the anointed one. I can consume . . . anything, because I live in Soho.

But they’re wrong about me, I’m not who they think I am. The only thing rich about me is my address. I have lived in a rent-stabilized loft since the time of Jesus. I’ve seen the transformation of my neighborhood go from a warehouse district that nobody wanted to live in—except artists—to one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in the world. I now live in a neighborhood where I can’t afford to shop or eat. I would need a bank loan to go to some of the restaurants or to shop at Prada, Ralph Lauren, or Chanel. When I step out of my building I want to shout, “GET OUT! GET OUT!” to the tourists, revelers, and the crowds of people who stand in the middle of the sidewalks gazing at shop windows, often at underwear.

Soho has many prominent underwear shops. The one that many people know is the one that does not allow anything to stand between you and this famous designer’s underwear. Calvin Klein’s message is fusion-sex. By wearing his underwear I will be able to meld with him, even though I’m not into anorexic old men, and even if I was, I know that I could never be alone with him, and I can’t meld with the images of those who are in his panties—in my heart of hearts I know that I will never be one with Kate Moss and that my desires will never be hers. He should get out of our pants. His message is all wrong. Shouldn’t all good underwear actually be saying, “Yes, Yes, get between me?” Shouldn’t someone that you desire be between you and your underwear? The message from this designer, ultimately, is not about you, it’s about him. He’s an interloper: off with his head! I pass on this media erection—I’m off to the underwear shop whose name begins with La.

La has a luscious picture window featuring a high-priced spread of women’s intimate apparel. Gorgeous silk and lace underwear is modeled on mannequins, and suspended among them—under a little spotlight—was a thong. Lacy, black, and elegant—floating without a body in a pinkish purple light—a bit of silk, lace, and perhaps polymer that held great potential, my great potential. I wondered: How much is that thong in the window?

I didn’t feel quite dressed for this shopping impulse because it was Saturday afternoon and I was just walking down my block in jeans and sneakers, but as often happens, I found myself among the walking who wore Prada, Chanel, DKNY, and Armani. To escape, I went in.

Entering La was like entering a cocoon—soft and fuzzy. A sales person was immediately at my side.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m interested in your thongs.”

She smiled, “We have many models,” and led me to a display case.

Just like the Museum of Natural History, I thought.

“We have the Mezzanotte Thong, isn’t it elegant with this triangular patch of coquetted silk scallops? We also have the Sinfonia Thong, one of our favorites.”

“Why is that?” I asked. Will it make me sing? I thought.

She forced a smile, “It’s versatile.”

What does that mean? I wondered. How is a thong versatile? Can it do things that I don’t know about? Have I been in the dark all these years?

“And we also have,” she smiled widely, “the Smoking Garden Thong.”

This is beyond metaphor, I thought.

“It comes in black and musty pink. We think it’s seductive.”

I nodded.

“And another popular model is the Sweetheart Adjustable Thong.”

This sounded to me like it was for someone who just had a hip replacement or gender reassignment.

“It must be comfortable,” I said.

I looked at the specimens before me. I found myself wondering about the thongs of the prehistoric men and women—they all wore thongs. What would they like?

“Perhaps I can help you select the right one,” she said.

How can she, how can anyone really help me select the right one? I noticed that there weren’t any price tags. These little numbers couldn’t even support the weight of a price tag, so I summoned up my courage.

“How much are they?”

“The Mezzanotte is $155, the Sinfonia is $107, the Smoking Garden is $84, and the Sweetheart Adjustable is $57. My name is Angela, if you need any further assistance.” My intimate apparel consultant walked to the other end of the store.

I knew what I wanted: I was in love with the Mezzanotte. I was even in love with the name. Mezz ah noh tay. I felt that I could go very fast in a Mezzanotte. But it was $155. If we were on a barter system, would the Mezzanotte be worth two lobsters? A pound of sugar? An unlimited metrocard? I suppose it all depends on the hunger of the buyer. Can a person be hungry for a thong at $155? Seeing it before me was not the same as seeing it in the window. Without special purple lighting it looked small—very small.

My intimate apparel consultant returned to my side. “How are you doing?”

“Fine. I really like the Mezzanotte.”

She nodded in agreement. “A good choice.”

“Why?” I asked. “What does it do?”

“What does it do?”

Her mouth twitched, and her eyes shot above my head, toward the security guard at the door. I suddenly felt his eyes boring down on me.

“It’s a joke,” I said.

Her eyes took in my plain tee shirt, my jeans and my well-worn sneakers.

“What polymers is it made from?” I asked.

“Polymers? What do you mean, polymers?’’

“Synthetic materials.”

“It’s all silk and lace.”

“Does that mean it needs to be dry cleaned?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’m afraid of shrinkage.”

She looked to the guard, again.

“There isn’t much room for shrinkage,” I added.

I thought of my Iranian dry cleaners. I wondered how much they would charge. It was cut from a 8” square of silk, if that. But I knew they would have issues with the coquetted scallops and tell me that they would need to charge me extra—I was probably looking at $18.

The guard moved closer.

“Thank you,” I said. I needed to consider this purchase, and my hunger. I walked toward the door. On the street, many people were grazing on the intimate apparel in the window, looking at the teeny tiny thong. It’s amazing to me how we’ve learned to pay more for less. I thought about how I would also have to eat less so that I could always fit into this thong, but that shouldn’t be too difficult because restaurants were now serving smaller portions—that smaller somehow says something about our character, that we have control, that we are in control of ourselves, that we know when to stop eating, that we prize our ability to fit into a thong, that we like making ourselves smaller than we want to be. I opened the door, took a deep breath—it’s a good thing that I don’t really like thongs. They cramp my style.

Susan Mosakowski’s work has been presented at theatres and museums in New York, nationally, and abroad. Commissions include the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Padua Hills Playwrights’ Festival. Among her awards are a Rockefeller Foundation Playwriting Fellowship, a National Endowment Playwriting Fellowship, three Northwest Area Fellowships, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a J.M. Kaplan Fund grant, and numerous foundation grants. She is a 2014 BAU/Camargo Fellow, and she is a resident playwright at New Dramatists. She resides in New York City and currently teaches at SVA.