Pascal Derrien

4 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility ~100 ·

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Liar Liar Pants On Fire

Liar Liar Pants On Fire

It had never been my intention, it was not by design even but more of a quid proquo almost that led my parents to think I was in relationship with that stunning young girl from Paris inner city. It’s true though that I had a massive crush on her and from the outside providing the time we were spending together we looked like everything a couple would be but we were not…. It was complicated.

What was simple though was to use this vague notion of couple to avoid questions and avail free passes for any week-ends or overnight stay of my choice. For almost three years I used an invented love story to cover my freedom wanders and thirst of parties, music gigs and other young adult adventures without raising any suspicion from my household. My mum only meet Nora three times max but providing there was regular phone calls asking for me she assumed the relationship was alive and in full blown.

I would be in Brussels attending punk gigs while the official story line would be that I was staying overnight with Nora in the south of Paris. From my standpoint, it was convenient we had gone thru so much as a family the previous years that I thought we deserved a bit of plain sailing, nobody knows nobody gets hurt type of thing if you see what I mean.

December 1989, the events in Romania are all over the French news, the revolution, the Securitate, the fights between factions, I was glued to the news channel and radio stations between the 16 and 25th of December, is it because of France special relationship with Romania but Christmas was clearly overshadowed that year by the tragic and fascinating developments taking place 1000kms east of the border. Most French schools had pen pals with Romanian pupils and French was commonly spoken (still to this day) and it is with anguish and fear that we learned that Nicolas and Elena Ceausescu were executed on Christmas day.

I don’t remember how or when my local town got attributed the opportunity to organise a humanitarian convoy to the south suburb of Bucharest in January 90 but when I showed up at the volunteer registration desk It had never been my intention nor it was by design even that I led the city council clerk to overlook my ID and assumed I was over twenty. Thousands and thousands of small to medium French towns were responding to the call of solidarity to bring medicine, clothes, toys, blankets and other first necessity items to a country that was on a verge of breakdown and chaos.

With hindsight, I really don’t understand how could the security aspect of hundreds and hundreds of trucks converging to Timisoara or other big towns not be taken more into consideration and subject to a tighter scrutiny, I suppose the times were different but it is unlikely it would happen today providing the convoys and their support units were mainly composed of civilians and regular people.

That’s said, with only a national identity card (I did not even have a passport in those days) I found myself assigned to truck 29 with two drivers namely Gerald and Gaston respectively 60-year-old retired long distance driver and 45-year-old City Council employee. The trip was to take 5 days altogether two days up one day unload and two days back and we will be joining a convoy of nine trucks that would make ten with us. The truck was filled to the roof with a variety of items including conserves, our destination was a school somewhere in the south of Bucharest.

It took us a while to reach the Hungarian/Romanian border, it is chaotic and shambolic once we are there and I am a bag of nerves and so are my two convoy acquaintances. We get stuck for hours and it helps me to calm down, at times I almost regretted being there it had more in common with a very bad idea rather than a juvenile and formative trip but I had this visceral need to be part of this and now that there was no turning back.

Finally, we get clearance and we get moving, we cross our first Romanian village three kilometres from the border and this is the first time I get to see some Romanian people on the side of the road, they seem curious but they don’t smile, it's the cold maybe but to me they look emotionless so I better forget the hero's welcome and flowers. A few hours later we reach the south suburb of Bucharest. I don’t remember where we went but I remember an army officer telling us to be vigilant and cautious, he also mentioned that it was unlikely in his opinion but just in case we would hear some gun shots this may be coming from some loyal Securitate members still being on the run.

The three of us are very nervous and I am shit scared to be honest but I try to compose myself the best I can, the rest of the trip is so blurry partly because I was so focused on trying hard to stay calm that I can hardly remember where, how and who we gave the parcels to, my attention was laser focused on the feral or loose dogs that were everywhere.

We were very silent during the manoeuvres and other sequence of events. We only got into some small talk once we passed the border on our way back to France

Five days after the Monday I have departed into the unknown I am back to my mum's apartment that Friday evening and when she asked me how were the few days away with Nora she was a bit surprised by my answer

I really don’t like dogs you know that!!!!


Romania 1989/90

Photo Credit

French Convoy 1990

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Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #24

@ thanks for reading that one \ud83d\udc1d Fatima Williams according to my kids I seem OK ish :-)

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

4 years ago #23

What an interesting adrenaline pumping trip. You have a noble heart to go out there and help these kids. This was a lovely peek into your life Pascal Derrien You will make an Amazing daddy. Stay awesome always 🤗

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #22

thanks for dropping by Lisa Gallagher, in fact there were herd of dogs who had not been fed to a point that in desperation some groups made a few attempts to hop or climb on the truck ☺

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #21

It's a good think your mom believed you... or at least she wanted to believe you instead of worrying sick if you were out doing anything other than being a nice boy with your love! How scary that must have been. Your life is unfolding through your stories, love it. Can you explain the dog reference? Were you inferring "Nora" had dogs lol? Thanks for sharing Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #20

thanks debasish majumder , there were so many of them barking and not looking too friendly........ my nickname is Kat :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #19

ah thanks Ken Boddie :-) this puzzle thing is complicated and I dont have all the pieces yet :-)

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #18

Another enticing piece slots into the Pascal Derrien jig-saw puzzle. We are just starting to see an image or two when the puzzle gets larger and the corners and straight edges are lost. And the title on the jig-saw puzzle box still remains a blur.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #17

Yes Deb Helfrich I am unsure too they would have supported this I guess I figured out I did not need to ask for permission to live my life, now I am a father too and I am not sure how I am going to deal with this :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #16

thanks Franci Eugenia Hoffman Daytona is a place I have never been to even though I could today and there woiyuld be no need to lie by omission :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #15

Thanks jesse kaellis , the orphanage stories resufaced a few years after the revolution took place it was and it is still a beyond shocking state of affairs :-(

Quite an interesting story Pascal Derrien. Some of my adventures would not have been approved by my parents and I got away with most of them. In my teens, I told my parents I was staying overnight with some girlfriends, which was true but we were all in Daytona Beach and not in our respective homes. As you mentioned in one of your comments, some of our adventures could not happen today. So I'm looking forward to more stories from our "regular guy".

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #13

I indeed agree Don Kerr probably make sense for the longer term :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #12

indeed small world, I only measure now how risky or indeed borderline collectively foolish it was :-) There is a strong Romanian community in Ireland too and I always have a soft spot for them. I have been back to Bucharest in a professional capacity in 2007/2008 the city had changed a lot Sara Jacobovici

don kerr

4 years ago #11

Pascal Derrien Do the book buddy. I did one this summer for my boys that chronicled every day's activities with notes and photos. They're not even remotely interested at this point but in a few years I suspect they'll love it - or their kids will in decades to come when I am worm food!

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #10

Another chapter in the story of Pascal Derrien's life.

Sara Jacobovici

4 years ago #9

How cliche can I get when I say, "What a small world!". Here I am on beBee reading your story when you could have been handing a parcel to either my Uncle, Aunt or cousin! Although I wasn't born in Romania, my first language is Romanian because both my parents were born there (Iasi). My mother learned French at school and because Romanian is a Latin language, when I was learning French going to school in Montreal, I was able to pick it up very easily. I learned about Romania and France's close ties from my mother. I was able to visit my family in Bucharest both during and post Ceausescu. We were glued to the TV and waiting hours on the telephone trying to make contact with the family in Bucharest. It was a very nerve racking 36 hours until we heard my cousin's voice on a very weak connection but letting us know they were safe, traumatized by being too close to the action, but safe. So I owe you a big thank you Pascal Derrien for putting yourself at risk to help my family!

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #8

thanks Laura Mikolaitis for following the chronicles of a regular guy :-) I think I may end up compiling them and give them to my kids one day :-) unless beBee wants to sponsor me in the form of a book :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #7

Dean Owen to your first question I suppose we know how to contact each other if need be ( I have changed all names in that story by the way so don't go searching :-) ) people do what they can Dean not always what they want..... :-)

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #6

interesting question Ren\u00e9e Cormier no no regrets everyday is a bonus I sometimes wish I would have pursued the humanitarian aspiration in a more structured or professional way it is not a big nemesis of mine :-)

Dean Owen

4 years ago #5

Years later have you found her on Facebook or beBee? :) Technically that was no lie (well that's how I tend to play it when calming the wife!). If I have any regrets it is that I rarely mustered the courage to drop everything and do something noble and impulsive. I stood by in the comfort of my living room when friends of mine did literally drop everything to fly to Phuket following the Tsunami or the Bali bombing. But I have made it a priority for my next half century to follow your example...

Renée 🐝 Cormier

4 years ago #4

What an interesting life you have had. Any regrets?

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #3

thanks Kevin Pashuk not sure what took me , it was an impulse decision ... I am no adventurer by nay means just one or two things out of the ordinary :-)

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #2

You make my teenage exploits look as dull as milk toast. You have the heart of a humanitarian Pascal (based on this and other posts)... I think you might have a smidge of adventurer thrown in there too.

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #1

Thanks Aaron Skogen it was nuts really this could not happen nowadays :-)

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