Before we went to get the milk, my finance Katya and her mother, Elena, decided that it was best for me to wait outside as they entered the small, village grocery shop outside of Dnipropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine. We were in search of edible meat and cheese. While I waited, I noticed a goat chained to a fence. I decided that I had to take its picture. As I began snapping, an elderly man with a long, white beard came waddling up, angrily waving his finger at me, shouting something in Russian.
“Nyet, Russkiy,” I said, pleading my case, but the man continued shouting at me. Moments later, Katya came running out of the shop, coming to my defense, while Elena finished up the grocery purchase.
“Is this your foreigner?” the man asked Katya in Russian.
“Da,” Katya admitted nervously. “Did he do something wrong?”
“Get him the hell out of here! That cheap son of a bitch owes me!”
“What did you do?!” Katya asked me.
“No idea! All I did was take a picture of this goat,” I explained, gesturing toward the bearded animal. The man continued to yell.
“What is he saying?” I asked.
“He said if you want to photograph his goat, then you have to pay the price.”
“As in literally pay money … or is he threatening me?” I asked, equally amused and bemused by the whole situation.
“He wants you to pay him money.”
“I’ll butcher you like a cow if you take another picture of my goat, you hear me you son of a bitch?” the man shouted.
Katya apologized, took me by the hand, as though I were a small child in trouble, and escorted me back toward the shop, leaving the old man grumbling to himself.