This is going to get a little gross, but it is too good not to publish. Continue at your own risk (you've been warned).
One of the constants about Baghdad this time of year is the heat. The mornings start out at 85+ and the temperature shoots up from there. It is usually not so bad as just about every building is air conditioned. The one hot spot that must eventually be endured is the porta-jon. This plastic palace is also known as the vision box as heat and aroma will cause most to see visions on all but the shortest stays.
The heat in the box is bad, but the occupant is not the only thing getting cooked. The aroma can actually peal two layers of dead skin from your face before you even get comfortable. If you can go standing up, you've got a chance to avoid permanent damage. The little urinal box on the side is your best friend for those forty-five seconds.
The real dangers come when the seat must be employed. The though of spending more than a couple minutes in potty hell is bad enough. The unknown dangers can trip up all but the toughest marines.
The first danger involves losing your "dry butt seal". This is the seal your cheeks make with the seat when you first make contact. It may burn like an egg on a grille, but a good seal is absolutely necessary. As your business progresses, so does the heat. You may start to sweat on your face and down your torso. If the sweat reaches your seal and manages to get between you and the seat, you've lost your dry butt seal and all friction that was keeping you in a reasonable working position. One wrong move could project you out the door and half-way across the parking lot. Wet butt cheek on porta-potty plastic has lubrication properties that science is just now beginning to probe.
Should you manage to stay on the throne long enough to complete your mission, you will leave with a case of Monkey Butt like you've never known (never known Monkey Butt? Read on). As I've written before in this space, dust is everywhere in Baghdad. It is on your floor, in your clothes, and in your bed. Toilet seat are no exception. Placing your back side on a dusty surface and mix in the correct amount of moisture, then applying pressure will bind the resulting concoction to said parts like a prison tattoo. This is not a major problem most of the time. You pants will cover the damage. Trying to find a time in the showers when no one else is there is the real problem. A lot of soap and water is the only cure, but like other STDs that you can catch from the seat, you don't want to advertise what you've got.
Those have been the biggest dangers so far. Personally, I've been able to visit the toilets with the AC most of the time. I hope knowing the dangers will keep others safe. Don't be a victim!
Next time we will learn about Saddam's revenge and the other use for the vision box urinal thingy. Stay tuned.