Here it is, everyone, my fur … or not-fur … hat:
I went back to the souvenir market Vernissazh to pick up some Christmas presents for my folks at home. I should have remembered that I am horrible at picking out when I go out specifically for that purpose, so I came home empty handed except for this hat.
So, is it real fur? How do I know? Of course, the young dude selling it to me told it was real fur, fox fur –eesh– and did a couple of demonstrations with his cigarette lighter and clumps of fresh snow to assure me that it was real. Of course, what the hell do I know about how fire and fur react, or how snow and fur react? Well, nothing. Then again, I payed thirty bucks for it, so how could it be real? Or, maybe real, but not fox? Because I feel sort of bad if it’s truly fox, of course. I’m kind of stuck between wanting it to be the real deal and not fur at all.
Of course, I can’t trust anything the dude said at all. For example, here was one part of our conversation:
Me: well, you know, a fox to me is kind of like a dog, and I really like dogs… it’s kind of sad…
Dude: oh, you know, it’s not like they kill the foxes.
Me: what, they find them lying dead on the side of the road and then they make hats out of them?
I also met one very wacky old husband and wife pair of vendors as I was ogling their display of hand-painted black, red, and silver posters from Soviet athletic events. Nice wares, and I was tempted to buy one until they utterly barraged me. I let my toothless new friends go on for quite a while because it was entertaining and partially because it was just very hard to leave the premises. They came in real close and asked if I wanted vodka. They waved some bottle in my face and told me it was bootleg, made in Brighton Beach and sold back in Russia for a buck a bottle. They sang various folk songs at me, the old woman waved her “grandmother’s” handkerchief in my face and then presented it to me with much emotional fanfare. They asked me my first name, and after I told them, the man said, “Jew? I noticed it from the first.” The best part was when they confessed to me very seriously that they were in the mafia and taught me a couple of “passwords”. One I partially forget, but it had the word “golubchik” in it, and the other one was to look stern, slam a fist on the table, and say “khochu pit’, pyet’, i plyasat’” which means, “I want to drink, sing, and dance”. After this show, I slowly backed away saying “ya poshla” — “I’m out of here”.