Romania these days is packed with long and wide food lines. People wait for hours to buy rationed meat, soy or sunflower oil, sugar, bread, and vegetables. Hunger is the everyday norm.
In a potato line, one super-hyper man spits cusses at the “hunger system” and blames it on the communist government.
Angry and loud, he puffs on his cigarette and monologues about the old days when food was healthy and plenty, when old Romania was the grain supplier of the Entire Europe.
Some people in line nod their heads but no one comments; talking publicly against the system can cost one dearly.
The restless man gets in and out of the line, and suddenly he lays eyes on a friend waiting at the back of the line.
A trivial conversation issues, and after the banal exchange, he asks out loud, “Did you hear the one with the old lady at the soccer game?” Before getting a reply he continues, “An old lady was on a soccer stadium during a world cup match when all of the sudden the entire audience jumped to its feet screaming: O-ble-men-co, O-ble-men-co [the name of a famous Romanian soccer player]. Confused and curious, the old lady grabs a man by the sleeve and asks, ‘Sir, did they finally replace Ceausescu?’”
No one laughs one can be arrested for telling or laughing at a joke about our president, the beloved, comrade Ceausescu.
The man ends his joke gets back in line and lights up another cigarette. Out of nowhere, two men approach him whisper something in his ear and he quietly leaves the line, edged between the two.