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.