I finally purchased the July issue of GQ (yes, the one with Jessica Simpson on the cover), featuring Lisa DePaulo's mesmerizing interview with the Pennsylvania National Guardsmen who supervised Saddam Hussein. Specialist Sean O'Shea summed it up best when he wrote in his diary, "Part of me wanted to punch him in the face. Another part wanted to know what was going on in his head." And while the former didn't happen, O'Shea and his fellow soldiers learned more than they ever imagined from this bloodthirsty, megalomaniacal dictator.
"Never Froot Loops. Saddam loved Raisin Bran Crunch, but sometimes they'd run out. It was one of the few times Sean ever saw him defeated--when he'd bring him the wrong cereal. 'No Froot Loops!' Saddam would say."
"And his favorite food was ... Cheetos. He was nuts about Cheetos. One of the guardsmen turned him on to them, and before long he would get grumpy if they ran out.... Then one day they gave him Doritos instead, and Saddam never went back.... He'd eat a family-size bag of Doritos in ten minutes.... When they'd give him a bag, he'd smile, thank them profusely, and retreat to a corner of his cell. Then he'd sprinkle a few drops of water into the bag and eat."
"His English kept improving, and he liked to tell jokes. There was one about a sheep and three men. 'You couldn't always understand him,' says [Specialist] Jesse [Dawson], 'but he was laughing, so you'd start laughing, too."
"When Sean told him that Reagan had recently died after a long battle with Alzheimer's, Saddam got quiet for a minute, then said, 'Yes, this happens.'"
Saddam has been working on his memoirs as well as his poetry. But when he translated it from Arabic into English, it didn't always make sense. Said Corporal Jonathan Reese, "It would be like, 'There's a blender in the street.' And we'd be like, 'Beautiful!'"
But perhaps the most disturbing detail, which seems to go against Saddam's germaphobic tendencies, is that he apparently doesn't use toilet paper: "He wiped with his left hand and had a hose next to the toilet that he used to wash himself off."
Being in Saddam's presence--even as the men reminded themselves constantly of what he did to his people--it became hard to avoid a conversation with him. (Hermann Göring was supposedly the same way in prison.) According to the soldiers, Saddam still believes he is president of Iraq and is waiting to return to his palace. He's in for a rude awakening.
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