“Can we switch to something else? I don’t like watching the commercials,” Giannis said uneasily, grabbing for the remote that was in Nate Wolters’ hand.
Nate snatched the remote away from Giannis’ long reach and laughed. “No way, dude. My apartment, my TV, my rules.”
“Come on man, this channel always has the really stupid ones,” Giannis complained.
“Shut up, here comes one of those starving children commercials. Sometimes it’s good to watch these and remember how privileged we are to live in America. Stay grateful and stuff, you know?”
Nate and Giannis watched a semi-famous actor walk around in a dusty African village swarming with underfed children.
“These children are living in the worst poverty imaginable. Many of them were orphaned at a young age, forced to become adults while they were still children. For just over a dollar a day, you can sponsor one of these children, to provide food, clean water, and schooling,” said the actor as shots of kids huddled in huts were shown fading in and out.
Nate suddenly sat up straighter on the couch. “Woah, that dude in the back looks an awful lot like you, Giannis!”
“No, that’s not me,” Giannis responded, looking away from the TV.
In the commercial, the tall skinny man approached the camera. “It is! It’s totally you!” Nate exclaimed. “What are you doing in Africa?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
On screen, Giannis was irate. “When you said I was acting in a commercial, you didn’t tell me it would be like this,” he ranted at the cameraman. “I am totally healthy and I don’t need any donations.”
A voice, presumably the camera operator’s, responded, “Just go back to that pile of dirt over there and pretend to be hungry. You’ve totally screwed up the take, I hope you’re happy.”
“It makes me sick how you guys just walk around in your expensive clothes and have clean water brought in daily for your shower while this whole village dies of starvation,” Giannis yelled. “And then when somebody is nice enough to sign up for your program, you pocket 90% of the money! It’s a lie, it’s a scam!”
The actor looked at the cameraman for reassurance. “You’re not filming this, are you? This could be bad if it got out.”
“I’ll say,” said Nate on the couch.
“Africa needs our help in the worst way, but it is impossible because crooked charities are intercepting all of the money!” Giannis continued in the commercial. He grabbed the camera and pointed it at his face. “Attention America! You are being robbed! To give real help to these children, contact the Red Cross and-”
“Hey! Give that back!” shouted the cameraman, taking back his equipment. “You’re on the next plane out of here, you freak. One of these kids will do your job for a hundredth of the money, anyway. You know, sometimes we make ’em dance for a piece of bread! Hahaha, ‘dance, starvin marvin, dance!’ It’s a hoot to watch them moan and cry.”
The commercial abruptly ended without giving the usual telephone number or internet address to contact the organization. The two basketball players sat in silence as a commercial for fast food came up next. Spread across 60 inches of Nate’s TV was Giannis biting into a burger from a local chain.
“Nate, can we please change the channel now?”