Thursday, March 8, 2012

Monopolizing the conversation

My favorite board game growing up was Monopoly. I liked it so much that I own a Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, iPod and Android version of it. I am such a purist that I refuse to buy any of the gazillion of Monopoly variations (does anyone really need a Spongebob Monopoly game?). I played the game so much with my neighbor George that I can tell you instantly how much rent costs on each property or what you've landed as soon as the dice are rolled, before you even start moving. That last Monopoly trait is what drives Lori nuts, and why she has refused to play the game since 1995.

Last week, Ben and I were picking Michael up from a friend's house, and there was Monopoly on the floor, where the kids had been playing it. Ben sat down, moved all the pieces to Go, and started rolling the dice. He had tried the Monopoly on my phone, perhaps without fully understanding it, and he loves board games, so I thought we would try playing Monopoly that weekend. Lori was out of in bed early after returning from a long business trip, so it was just the boys and I. I dug out the old game we bought while still living in Milwaukee and, if memory serves me right, only played once. The pieces were still rather shiny, and the money crisp.

The result? Ben won. In fact, Ben won with minimal help, crushing Michael and me. I did suggest he buy houses and hotels at certain times, but mostly, his victory was him and lucky dice rolls. At one point, he had this giant pile of money in front of him, then dropped a $1 bill and moaned that he was losing a dollar, which made me chuckle and struck Michael as downright hysterical. Michael went bankrupt, and after Ben took over his brother's deeds, he built up the orange properties (St. James, Tennessee and New York). I promptly landed on New York, and Ben read the deed for how much rent for a hotel was worth and declared, "One million dollars!" He was only off by $999,000 (and obviously hasn't quite got the concept of numbers past three digits down). It didn't matter -- I was broke, too.

Tonight, Ben wanted to play "Nomopoly" again. He cutely has had trouble pronouncing the word correctly the last few days. Lori agreed, and Michael, who I'm sensing is disliking the game as much as Lori does, begrudgingly played as well. The result? Ben won again. I was suggesting trades, but not so much for me to get an advantage, but to get us all one complete set of properties (Ben got the light blues). But Lori gave him a little nudge (and to quicken the game a little) when she traded him Park Place. Ben then proceeded to land on Free Parking, pick up a big pot and build up Park Place and Boardwalk. First, Michael went bankrupt, and he wasn't sad about it. Then Lori and I, who had been building up our own properties (I had the purples and yellows, she had the maroons), kept landing on Park Place. Game over.

Occasionally, Ben would say "Ka-ching!" when he collected money. And he started pronouncing "Monopoly" correctly. He had ceased being cute. He is now simply a ruthless 5-year-old.

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