[Author's Note: I've always wanted to write a short satire on a few trends I see emerging in contemporary culture. This is the opening of one I began a few weeks ago. I figured I'd throw it out for some feedback.]
Carter Mayhew was born on the South Shore. The exact town’s irrelevant, but it was a decent one. His father was a certified public accountant, his mother a marketing consultant. Both had college degrees, made good money, and had saved enough of it to live in a neighborhood of similarly aspirant, modestly successful sorts.
From a young age, Carter showed promise. He wasn’t an exceptional student, but as his kindergarten teacher noticed, he had above average powers of perception.
“The testing doesn’t show him to be gifted, but that’s just standardized stuff. He seems to grasp the bigger picture.”
“The bigger picture?” Mrs. Mayhew wouldn’t stand for anything less than gifted, the baseline for children in the neighborhood.
“When we have nap time, Carter colors.”
“In his sleep?”
“He tells me he isn’t tired, and closing his eyes is just pretending. So I let him color.”
“Are there other children who color?”
“They pretend to sleep.”
“How do we cure this?”
“If the other children pretend, and Carter doesn’t--”
“He sees through things.”
“I’ve always subscribed to, ‘When in Rome...’”
“True. But you’ve also heard, ‘In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king?’”
Mrs. Mayhew scanned the room. She had, but where? “Tony Robbins?”
“I have his book. ‘Secrets of the Highly Effective,’ or something like that.”
“Right.” This time the teacher scanned the room. She wished she’d had a cigarette. In an age she only knew from television, but somehow seemed twice as legitimate, she’d have already lit one, taken Mrs. Mayhew to the teacher’s lounge, poured both of them highballs, and spoken plainly. Alas, she wasn’t tenured. She just smiled.
Mrs. Mayhew was insistent. “I’d like you to make him sleep like all the other kids. If he has to pretend, so be it.”
“Of course.” The customer is always right.
The teacher did exactly what she knew she ought to, given the boy’s mother’s wishes. Carter colored during nap time every day for the rest of the year.
In fifth grade, Carter was sent to Sunday school. His family wasn’t chronically religious, but his father assumed it was best to expose the child to organizations with which most of society had at least a surface relationship. Half of Mr. Mayhew’s clients visited to a church, synagogue, or mosque once a week, and most of the other half, if asked, professed a general affinity for religion before quickly changing the subject.
Three weeks into lessons, while dropping Carter off, the Pastor of the church took Mr. Mayhew aside. “Are you and Mrs. Mayhew skeptics?”
“In what regard?”
“Carter asked me last week, ‘If God can do anything, can he make a rock so big he can’t pick it up?’”
“His teachers tell me he’s perceptive.”
“It’s a mystery, you know.”
“Perception?” Mr. Mayhew worked with financial statements, where that was only ninety percent true.
“You can’t analyze faith.”
“Kids are so... curious.”
“Which we welcome, of course.”
“Who abhors curiosity?”
“Certainly not us.” The Pastor was adamant. “Just so long as it’s channeled properly.”
“I’ll have a word with him.” (I forgot to mention earlier, Mr. Mayhew’s firm did the Church’s books.)
On the ride home, Carter’s father was blunt. “It’s not polite to ask whether God can make stones so big he can’t pick them up.”
“Does the answer change when I get older?”
“It’s better to leave some things unsaid.”
“Who says them then?”
“So we just think them?”
“You’ll think a lot of things you’ll never say.”
“For how long?”
This was true on the cul de sac in which the Mayhew family lived, and among the people on their street who received salaries which they needed to pay the loans on the homes and cars they parked in their garages and the tuitions for schools to which they sent their children. But Mr. Mayhew knew it wasn’t true everywhere else. He knew many of his own clients who’d sold large businesses for lots of money, and now said exactly what they felt like saying, whenever they felt like saying it. And what they said was far more colorful than an inquiry on God’s ability to make and move large rocks. In fact, these people didn’t talk about God at all. They didn’t need seem to need him.
[I don't suppose it's hard to see what societal trends I'm targeting. I just wonder, would a hundred pages of a satire like this - with a plot, of course - sell? Thanks in advance.]