Pastoralia by George Saunders:
Two redheaded girls sailed by in a green canoe, drifting with the current. They yelled something to him, and he waved. Had they yelled something insulting? Certainly it was possible. Certainly today’s children had little respect for authority, although one had to admit there was always Ben Akbar, their neighbor, a little Pakistani genius who sometimes made Morse look askance at Robert. Ben was an all-state cellist, on the wrestling team, who was unfailingly sweet to smaller kids and tole-painted and could do a one-handed push-up. Ah, Ben Shmen, Morse thought, ten Bens weren’t worth a single Robert, although he couldn’t think of one area in which Robert was superior or even equal to Ben, the little smarty-pants, although certainly he had nothing against Ben, Ben being a mere boy, but if Ben thought for a minute that his being more accomplished and friendly and talented than Robert somehow entitled him to lord it over Robert, Ben had another think coming, not that Ben had ever actually lorded it over Robert. On the contrary, Robert often lorded it over Ben, or tried to, although he always failed, because Ben was too sharp to be taken in by a little con man like Robert, and Morse’s face reddened at the realization that he had just characterized his own son as a con man.