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Porn or Africa?

By H.G. Miller

Leading up to the election, I put a John Kerry picture up on my office wall. In about two hours, I had no fewer than five people come by and stare in awe.

“You know Paul’s a Republican, right?”

Paul is the big boss. Since my office is next to his, I get to spend most of my day listening to an endless array of ass kissers laugh at his bad jokes and tout his college football team. One would be well advised to not offend Paul with a Democratic display such as mine, I was told.

“So?” I responded. This was usually followed by a blank stare, a brief moment of worry, and then a turned back as the perplexed party scampered away.

Since this incident, the people in the office have still been trying to figure me out. The fact that I have no fear of my superiors, don’t fill my office space with my client’s brand merchandise and insist on voicing support for Democratic ideals has people viewing me as some kind of rebel.

Up to this point, I’ve been enjoying this outcast identity with an air of superiority. I figured my progressive stance made me a better person than these dismal bastards who would rather pollute the earth and keep the poor people poor and the rich people rich.

I was beginning to brandish my righteousness with verve when the whole façade came crashing down. Needless to say, pornography was prominently involved.

“You have to admit,” I said during lunch with a co-worker, “what we do is pretty soulless sometimes.”

I prepared to bask in the wash of stunned silence when the girl came back with this:

“Yeah, it is.” My eyes widened at her candor. “I actually signed up to sponsor one of those kids in Africa about six months ago.”

“Really?” I asked.

She began to tell me how she was feeling a little down about her chosen profession and felt a sudden urge to do something positive in the world. Since then, she’s had some correspondence with her sponsored child and even sent him a small care package.

“What’s something like that cost?” I asked.

“It’s twenty-three dollars a month,” she said. “They just bill it to my credit card automatically.”

“Huh,” I responded. “That’s how much my porn subscription costs.”


Dread spread across my body as I realized that this was quickly turning into a conversation that could destroy my career and possibly get me thrown in jail.

“Yeah,” I smiled sheepishly. “It’s billed to my credit card, too. Cool, huh?”

“That much?” She asked.

“It’s actually a pretty good deal,” I said.

“Why don’t you just hit up a strip club or something?”

“That would cost a lot more than twenty bucks a month,” I told her.

“I guess that’s true,” she took a sip from her drink.

I desperately tried to think about something else to talk about. I was about to comment on the pleasantness of the day’s weather when she interrupted me.

“So, how does it feel to know that you could help save a starving child in Africa instead of doing… whatever it is you do with that website?”

My throat was getting very dry.

“I, uh… um, there’s no pop-ups,” I tried to explain. “You know, so it’s easier to, um, concentrate…”

“Don’t you have a girlfriend? Why do you need that anyway?”

“Well, um, she’s not really around all the time, and I, uh…”

“Does she know about this subscription?”

“Kind of, yeah, well… not really, I mean…”

“I’ll bet the gratification I get from communicating with my sponsored child is so much deeper that what you walk away with every night from that website.”

“Seventy-eight degrees,” I sputtered.

“What?” she asked.

“The weather. It’s supposed to get to seventy-eight today. Nice, huh?”

“Yeah,” she replied, though the dripping sarcasm in her voice made me think she probably wasn’t referring to the weather. “Real nice.”

We finished our meal quietly,

I spent the rest of the afternoon considering the decision I now had. Somehow, the small gift I had given myself after canceling HBO and saving some money on car insurance had turned into a choice between the immoral sins of the flesh and the noble support of an underprivileged youth halfway around the world.

This wasn’t exactly fair.

I mean, I’m sorry the kid has it so bad, and that really sucks that he has to grow up in a drought plagued desert without much food, but pouty-lipped models with loose morals and video cameras need to eat too.

Plus, I’m helping the economy here in Southern California. You know, think globally, and act locally. That sort of thing.

I bought a U2 CD once. Doesn’t some of that money go to the kids in Africa?

I think what has really happened is that I realize I am not the greatest person on earth. That even though I may despise the political beliefs of some people, it doesn’t mean they are out to destroy the world. On some level, we all try to make the world a better place for our fellow humans and ourselves.

I guess I still have some room to grow and some more to give to the planet. And to do that, I’ll need a good night’s sleep, so I’d better make sure I’m nice and relaxed…