Wally handed the card to his parents. His mother opened it and began to read aloud.
“‘Happy holidays. Wally has purchased a…manatee in your name from Manatee International’…well, thank you. So, what is Manatee International?”
“It’s really cool. What you do is, you buy a manatee–or buy one in someone else’s name as a gift, like I did for you guys–and Manatee International gives that manatee to a family in need in a Third World country so they can…well, it provides them with…um…”
Wally suddenly realized as he struggled to explain Manatee International that not only did he not actually have a gift for his parents, he’d also been conned out of five hundred dollars by this supposed “non-profit charitable organization”.
He hadn’t been this embarrassed since last Christmas, when he had been duped into giving money to Narwhal International. Or the Christmas before that, when he had given money to Star-Nosed Mole International. Or the year before that, when he had given money to Leafy Sea Dragon International.
Or the year before that, with Platypus International.
Wally looked at his parents. As they looked back at him with expressions that were equal parts disappointment and pity, he made an early New Year’s resolution: Next holiday season, when the guy who was the “President” of all those organizations came around again, he wasn’t going to give him one thin dime, no matter how persuasive his arguments were or how cool the animal was.