Friday, December 03, 2004

"Vee are French after all"

My last week as a civilian for 18 months. The reality of it has not yet kicked in.

I went to the "salon" today to get a haircut. The salon would be a barbershop, except for the fact that the employees are all french and would be offended at such a notion. The french barber, I'll call him "Jock" said to me:

"So how do ve vant it cut?"

"Short on the sides, long on top. Use a number 1."

"Dis is too short. You vant something longer, no?"

"No, use a number 1, it has to be regulation for the army."

"Ahh, you are in de armee? Vill you go to Iraq?"

"Yes, in May I will be there, I found out three weeks ago that my Army National Guard unit activated."

Jock shut the clippers off and asked in a voice that could be heard by everyone in the salon. "Oh I see, so what, are you tired of living?"

I looked at him in the mirror, sitting in the barber chair, and trying to decide if standing up and walking out with half of my head buzzed was a bright idea.

Jock must have thought about what he had just said, because he then tried to reassure me with a wave of his hand:

"Ahh, yes, I respect de militaree. I myself was in zee French navee in 1993. I vas in de Somalia during zee Blackhawk Down. It vas just like Iraq. Very dangerous for us, so I have been dere too. Vee vere always afraid of being shot."

Really? French sailors in the Battle for Mogadishu? I was impressed.

"So where were you in Mogadishu?"

"Vell zee ship I was on, vas a mile offshore."

"So you weren't actually in Mogadishu."

"No, vee never left zee ship."

"Never left the ship? What did you do on the ship?"

"I cut ze hair... just like Iraq... very dangerous zere."

"You cut hair, and you never left the ship... so how were you afraid of being shot?"

Jock stopped buzzing my hair and started waving the clippers around demonstrating. "Zee rifle bulletz, zey can travel a long vay, vee vere afraid of zee bullets coming out to ze sea and hitting ze ship. Vee vere alvays nervous."

I stared at him.

Jock looked at me back and blushed. Then he shrugged his shoulders and explained, "Vee are French, after all."
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