Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All is Fair in Love and Board Games

We played Monopoly over the weekend. I used to beg my siblings to play that game when I was a kid, but everybody always rolled their eyes and moaned, "I hate that game!" Christian has been begging us to play it, and even though Ryan and I rolled our eyes to each other behind his back, we agreed to play. He's our kid, after all, and part of our obligation as parents is to clock a certain number of hours playing board games with him. Go ahead and check that; it's in the handbook.

So, we start playing and on my second roll of the dice, I landed in jail. JAIL! What the? But I didn't do anything wrong! I was forced to sit there in jail while everybody else pranced around buying up St. Charles Place and Marvin Gardens and B&O Railroad. I sat in the same spot, carving tally marks in the wall and getting tattoos. Doing hard time is so.....hard.

But finally, after three rounds of lost turns, I paid my debt to society (actually, I paid the banker $50) and headed out into the real world a changed woman. Or more particularly, a changed shoe. I stepped out into the "Just Visiting" area of the prison and looked around. I threw my shoelaces up in the air and exclaimed: The world is such a beautiful place! And it's so good to be alive! I'm going to live each day to the fullest by buying real estate and creating wonderful green houses and red hotels to shelter my loved ones!

Prison changes people.

The playing field wasn't exactly even at this point. Ryan had substantial holdings; Max was closing in on some utility ventures; and Christian was finding his place in the banking industry. Sure, I was behind in nearly every respect, but I had something they didn't have: PERSPECTIVE. And you just can't put a price or a big red hotel on that.

I worked hard and soon I was enjoying some success--Baltic Avenue, Illinois Avenue, and even a darling set of twins named Boardwalk and Park Place. When I landed on Water Works, I gladly handed over $120 dollars to Max's small pile of money, even though he was lying under the coffee table picking his nose and would never have known I owed him a dime. And when Christian owed me $14 in rent, but only had $11 without breaking a hundred-dollar bill? I said no problem, we're family. Mi casa, su casa. I was playing with integrity.

I was also playing with Ryan.

Ryan's approach to the game was quite different. It was like he was determined to own all of the properties and have all the money to himself. He quickly secured the trio of yellow properties and at the earliest convenience built a giant resort, three hotels deep, with water slides and chocolate fountains. I thought it was a tad showy, but I'm the one with integrity and perspective, so I kept my opinion to myself. Christian spent a lavish turn there, leaving him with nothing but a railroad and a five spot. He left in utter devastation. Max lost everything in a similar stay, although he wasn't really aware, being under the coffee table and all. I was a little bothered at how easily and cheerfully Ryan was bankrupting our children, but it wasn't until I checked into one of his smaller investments that I saw his true colors.

"That will be two hundred and forty dollars," he said (which is not really good customer service, I'd like to point out).

"I'm a little short on cash." I said.

"That's unfortunate," he said.

I offered him a nice fixer-upper property and a fifty dollar bill. He declined the offer, asking for my recently obtained one-house Pennsylvania Avenue--valued at $470.

"But, I don't owe you that much," I said.

"I don't care," he said. "You don't seem to have a lot of options."

"Well, are you going to pay me the difference?" I implored. (Imploring is like asking, but with more intensity and ticked-offness.)

"No," he said, without a second thought.

I stared at him, blinking in disbelief. And he had the audacity to laugh at me because he thought the disbelieving blinking was hilarious. The funniest thing he's ever seen, in fact.

"How do you sleep at night?" I asked. And I meant it.

There wasn't much game left at this point. Every roll of the dice led to more tragedy for me and the kids and more money and property to Ryan. Christian surrendered everything but his little metal top hat to Mr. Ruthless Moneygrabber, and was still in the hole when he made an emotional exit. Max--long gone to another one of Ryan's disgusting, garish, so-not-worth-it rent payments--took it much better. He was in the kitchen eating ice cream out of the carton.

I held on the longest, believing that all of the good karma seeds I had sown throughout my post-conviction playing time would finally yield a happy ending. You know, the one in which I own all of the properties and share them freely and equally with all the top hats, cars, irons, and wheelbarrows of the world, rent-free with an all-you-can-eat buffet? (Did you just get goosebumps?)

Yeah, well, I guess karma was taking a nap. I landed on another one of Ryan's pretentious properties, whose nightly rate was a trillion dollars plus one kidney.

"You could really use some time in prison," I said as I walked away in a huff.


Kristina P. said...

I really hate Monopoly. It takes FOREVER!

Becky said...

I didn't think Erik and Ryan could be any more alike. You just described (although much more beautifully and insightfully that I could) what it is like to play Monopoly with Erik. I feel your pain.

Lindy-Lou said...

This was one of your funniest posts. I used to think you should have a syndicated column since yours is the best I've read, but newspapers are nearly obsolete, so just keep blogging. Please.

Leslie said...

I'm NOT playing with Ryan. I don't mind losing to a humble winner -- you know, one who shows some sorrow at your loss, even in the midst of their victory. But Ryan sounds ruthless.

And, I always thought he was so nice. Hmmm.

Tiffany said...

I don't think anyone else could wrote a blog post about playing Monopoly like you! You're hilarious!

Chocolates n' Nature said...

You're so funny! I never thought one can describe a monopoly game as interesting as your post! Love your posts!!

And yes, sadly, I am one of those who sits around in beige sweaters, reading small appliance user manuals and eating popcorn... I am struggling to get out of this uninteresting-ness pit... Hopes to find my inspiration soon!

Kim said...

Monopoly always brings out the best in people. You now know the truth about Ryan's scheming are better off in jail..or eating ice cream out of the carton.

Anneliese said...

case in point why i don't really enjoy board games.

Ali said...

Ah Monopoly - the real estate may have different names over here, but the associated sentiments are much the same.

My husband and my sister-in-law nearly wrecked a harmonious family Christmas over Monopoly the first year my brother and I were married and spouses came aboard the annual Monopoly-fest. Now I play with her kids and mine, but she and my husband are forever banned.

Krista said...

This described my husband exactly! I loved this post. I have NEVER been so angry playing a game with him than monopoly. He was completely ruthless and since that game (5 years ago)...we've never played it since. It still gives me the shivers.

Soul-Fusion said...

Interesting, I didn't see that side of Ryan when Max was kicking butt in that Truth or Crap game.

tiburon said...

Isn't it amazing the things you learn? This is PRECISELY why I refuse to play Monopoly or Risk with Adam.

Because he is a jerk. And he is no fun to play with.

And he is a jerk.

MiaKatia said...

Wow sounds like I should stick to the online version of McDonald's monopoly. This real world stuff is too intense.

Jesse C said...

Hilarious. I always hated Monopoly, then one time I won. It's much much more fun when you win.

Kelli said...

First of all I am really ticked off because I never got this manual of which you speak of. Second of all I felt my blood pressure rising as you described your game with Ryan. I so want to take him down!! Alas. I have horrible luck at Monopoly and playing with kids only complicates it with the "nuturing Mom" vs the "I must rule the world WOMAN". Thanks for the laugh!

Anonymous said...

Maybe all of the dudes should play, while all of you girls go and watch Oprah. You bunch of sissies.

If someone isn't ruthless the game lasts for 3 weeks rather than 5 hours.

I like Monopoly but no one ever wants to play.

alex dumas said...

This post is proof that Monopoly really does mirror real life.

Donna said...

Ah, I love your blog!

I'm quite sure just one infuriating game of Monopoly with my brother was enough to make me consider becoming a Communist as a teenager.

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone knows I was kidding.

This post was hilarious.

I would play Monopoly any day Ryan.

Tiffany said...

James, your first comment made me laugh and your second comment made me laugh harder. :)

Kellybee said...

The visual of Max picking his nose made me laugh out loud!

Christy said...

You have such talent with words. I felt like I was right there watchin the game.
I think I had more fun than any of you!

courtney said...

i agree with miss lindy lou up there. here, here!

ps - i honestly can't stand monopoly. i don't think i've played it for more than 45 minutes before going to lay under the coffee table myself.

no nose picking, though.

Emily said...

I... I can't get John to play board games with me because, well, I'm like Ryan. ::shuffles feet, looks away nervously::

Angie said...

Ha! So good.

Aren't people who take the game seriously irritating? So irritating.

shannon p. said...

Wow - you really held out for the duration! I don't think I've ever finished a game of Monolopy - though I was actually playing with Thatcher yesterday and when it clearly wasn't going so well for him he decided to quit...and I was SOOO glad to be done with it to.

writer John said...

We like to play board games on Sunday afternoons. Monopoly has long been banned from Sunday afternoon playing because it inevitably leads to broken lives, backroom back stabbing, and hostile takeovers.

Illinivicki said...

Okay. So I just hopped over here from "You are my fave" because I thought your comment about your sucky readers was funny.

Holy cow! I will totally send you some cookies if you keep writing stories like this one.

Too darn funny!

Thanks for the laughs!

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