“I think you should get a fade and a part”
“Bro, I’m not getting a fade” Markus responded as I put down my fry.
“If you get one, we’ll all get one.”
“I’ll think about it.”
The sandwich shop we sat down at for lunch wasn’t much of a sight. A few tables set outside carried the remnant crumbs of pizza, wings, and gyros that once were. I sat quietly as Aaron and Markus placed their order, not really hungry as the hot, cramped trotro ride usurped my energy just an hour before.
“So, where’s the barbershop?” I asked.
A short taxi ride from the mall brought us to the University of Ghana at Accra. A beautiful, but in need of some tender love and care, sign welcomed us to the institution.
“That’s the African Studies building over there” Aaron said as he pointed to a rather raggedy structure in the distance.
“The barbershop is this way.”
We walked around the campus, eventually leaving the higher education walls and entering a clearly retail oriented space. Shops lined the unpaved walkways: electronics, weave, fruit, you could buy it all. Each structure loosely constructed with tin.
“Over here” he said, gesturing towards the shop.
The three of us entered to the pleasant surprise of the barber. He stood tall, the reflection of his low-cut hairstyle carried the excitement of two foreigners eagerly awaiting a fresh cut.
“I can cut you too,” the barber uttered. Markus smiled back having already realized his Norwegian heritage made him a stand out in a sea of melanin.
We all took a seat on three old black seats, the yellow internal cushion extending beyond the black pleather covering.
While waiting, a little boy walked into the narrow shop opening. Carefully, he made sure to get as humanly close to the threshold without stepping over.
“It’s ok. They’re your friends” the barber told the boy, looking at us. The boy responded with a retreat back out of the door frame. Looking me right in the eye he began to walk backwards.
It was my time turn to get into the chair. By that point, I was well into my voyage at sea and had already received a mediocre haircut from the ship’s salon. I was in need of support.
“Low and lined” I told him. He knew what I meant. Twenty minutes or so passed and I came out the chair looking like a knew man: faded with an extended squiggly part resembling that of a wave.
“You” the barber said, looking at Markus.
Walking to the chair, Markus asks “Have you ever cut a white person before?”
“Yes!” he responded with excitement. “I got you.”
“A fade and a part?” I ask.
“We’ll see,” responds Markus hesitantly.
“I got one! You said if we all do it you would too” I pushingly rebuttled.
The barber begins to cut. Markus, clearly anxious by and unfamiliar with having his haircut with clippers instead of scissors, closes his eyes.
“That’s a lot off the top” he inserted.
“It’s not that much” responded the barber.
Markus and the barber started to chat about life experiences. Markus, being two shades of pale away from stock paper, surprised the barber by telling of his high school experience in Swaziland.
“So you like my people?” he asked.
Chuckling, Markus responds affirmatively.
Time passes and Markus emerged from the chair. Faded and with a brand new part, he smiles at us.
“I did it guys.”
We laughed back. We all did it. Just three boys, faded and parted.