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An Authentic Brush Cut by Brady

It gets hot in Africa, but who knew how hot. In lieu of Vietnam, I opted for the Peace Corps in 1970. I was sent to the Ivory Coast. Like most rebels of my age, I wore my hair long almost shoulder length. Reading up in the encyclopedia and talking to a returned volunteer, I got an idea of the heat. So I cut my locks to a short, chin-length. Training took about three months and when the weather went from the rainy to the dry season, the weather got hotter and hotter. Finally, I got my posting. I was to dig wells in the northern part of the country. My post was great. The people friendly, the scenery beautiful and the weather sunny and hot. But water was a problem. The women in my compound would walk miles to bring back water. So naturally a well near by was much anticipated. Things move slowly in Africa, or at least they did 37 years ago. As the dry season got hotter and dustier, my hair was hotter and dirtier. I needed to do something. A) It was uncomfortable, B) It was stupid to use that much water. I needed a crewcut. Something this long haired convert was loath to admit. One day, as I was headed to the weekly market in town, I saw two Foreign Legion types getting a close crop by one of the local Muslim barbers. I decided to join the crowd. Not even sure of the terminology of getting a haircut in French, I asked the Legionnaire with the perfect brush cut what to ask for, he said a coupe brosse. So, few minutes later, I had my first of my monthly Brush Cuts, authentically done in the brush. The Muslim barber joked about my long blonde hair, but was up for the task. He took a scissors and attacked with vigor. He gathered my hair in a ponytail and cut it off. Soon he went to using a hand clippers. Cutting, cutting and cutting. Finally, he shaved the back a bit and I had a perfect brush cut. Apparently, he had been cutting hair for Foreign Legionaries for years and new exactly what to do once he had cut my hair to a length he could deal with. I loved my cut. The way it felt, the ease. It was perfect. I sent home some film to my parents for developing and my dad wrote back that I hadn't looked that sharp in years. I started growing the cut out a couple of months before I left and while traveling on my way home it grew even longer. Still short for 1972, but no longer a crewcut. It wasn't until 1986 when one hot day, I decided to rejoin the Foreign Legion by visiting the Vezza barbershop in New York. But that's another story and another jungle.

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