Of all the stories the Russian has told me about the Motherland, this one ranks right up at the top of the “interesting” list. We’ll let him set it up:
THE RUSSIAN: This one time I was in Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, I had some business there with guys from Lithuania.
ME: What kind of business?
[ed. note: it’s always cars]
TR: I was just decide to get the bear skin when I am there, because there are a lot of bears in the forest.
ME: Do you have to chase them down yourself for the skins?
TR: I do not take off the skin. I go to the village market. There is bear skin there, but it is row.
TR: Yes, row.
TR: Okey, raw. You know, not prepared for to put on the floor, or the wall. It was just taken off the bear.
ME: Bloody, probably?
TR: Oh yes. Bloody, messy, poop on it.
[ed. note: “poop on it”]
TR: So what? Of course poop, is a bear. Poop and pee, is very stinky. It is unique smell of bear, with pieces of fat. Is big mess.
ME: What does this market look like?
TR: It is outdoor market, like farmers market.
[ed. note: except with poopy bear skins]
TR: Is market for native things, like crafts made from the vood.
ME: Who was selling the skins in the market?
TR: Some guy, he look like hobo.
ME: Hobos hunt bears in Krasnoyarsk?
TR: No, the real hunters got the bear, take off the skin, send this guy to sell it.
ME: I see, the hobo is the salesman.
TR: Egg-zectly. I see leetle sign near this guy, “selling the bear skin.” I want biggest one, but needs to be prepared for using. I ask seller if he knows anyone around who can do job. He says yeah, I know a guy.
[ed. note: Russians always know a guy]
TR: He says, just bring this guy box of vodka, he will do.
ME: Like a box of wine!
TR: No, a case. Like 20 bottles. So hobo gives me address, I take the bus. I was very stinky in the bus. At the moment I step out of bus into the village, all the dogs around were coming to me. Street dogs.
ME: Because of the bear skin?
TR: Yes, I have the skin in the rooook sack –
ME: Ruck sack.
TR: Ruck sack. These dogs, they been insane. A dozen, maybe more. Maybe they will bite me. I try to walk down street, I carry box of vodka and bear skin and all the street dogs are jumping to me.
ME: What could you do?
TR: Yes, what I could do. Finally I get to the guy. He’s doing not only bears, he can do any skin. Cows, minks.
TR: What for, horses?
ME: I just thought…I mean, you eat them, maybe you want to save the skin.
TR: [ignores] I tell guy he will have another case of vodka when I come back, if I like his job. In matter of the fact he did very good job, nice and silky. I go home, I put on floor in house. The bear skin still has head, eyes, teeth, claws.
TR: Is very nice.
Mischka image via.