#2. We Had Very Little Concept of the Outside World
Thanks to Ceausescu's near-complete blackout of all things not communism, there's a ton of information about the world outside that just passed us by. Day after day, year after year, our local papers were pretty much the same: some pro-commie propaganda, maybe some good news about the crop-harvesting quota being reached before the deadline (or "good news" about those who failed to meet quota no longer being a burden on the proletariat).
David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty
Thanks to these government-issue deburdeners.
Meanwhile, the amazing feats of the outside world merited barely a passing mention. In 1969, when America landed men on the moon for the first time, the Romanian national newspaper briefly mentioned "a great success of scientific thought -- men on the moon!" along with a couple of lines from Nixon's telegram. That was it: about half the space you'd expect a tabloid to devote to Beyonce's new haircut. That's how much the friggin' moon landing merited. What could possibly have been a bigger headline that week? Why, Ceausescu driving a Dacia 1100, of course!
It's like a Cadillac pooped out a Datsun.
Yes, it was the debut of the brand-new Dacia 1100 model car, and Ceausescu himself was at the factory inspecting the very first one. The whole moon thing got about as much lip service as a small fire at a local porn store would get in a modern-day American paper, and otherwise that week's news completely ignored mankind setting foot on extraterrestrial ground for the first time in favor of a man pretending to drive a car that would probably burst into flame if he actually started it.
#1. There Were Communist "Store Brand" Ripoffs of Everything
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It wasn't just foreign entertainment that Ceausescu banned -- it was foreign everything. If it wasn't made by commie hands, we couldn't have it. No bananas, no Marlboro cigarettes, no condoms, no nothing (although we did have oranges, also known as "the Dallas of the fruit kingdom," for reasons that were never fully explained).
But hey, childhood doesn't make much sense for anyone.
Everything was not only banned, but replaced with Z-grade commie knockoffs. Coffee, for example, was deemed too much of a luxury for us peasants. We drank Nechezol, a non-caffeinated swill that was one part coffee and 20 parts congealed gutter slime. We cooked with fake oil made out of unrefined soy, ate fake cheese artificially fluffed up with (likely fake) flour, and drank what I suspect was homeopathically diluted demon-urine they called Cil-Cola. Meat? Forget about it. If we got it at all, we got the dregs, like chicken claws, legs that were nothing but skin and bones, and salami made out of bone meal. Mmm, you can really taste the bones! And feel them. Shattering your teeth.
Fortunately, the bone meal makes pretty good creamer for your Liecoffee.
Santa Claus was banned, too. Fat, happy guy that brings opulent presents to the good children? Sounds like a capitalist crony to me! But to the government's credit, they didn't just outright refuse to let us poor children celebrate. No, we still had Presents Day, brought to us by a stern man in slacks and a bathrobe:
That's Mos Gerila. He was slim, sad, and stern, and he came on December 30. So four days later than Santa, but at least his presents were much, much worse.
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