I was insistently begged into playing Monopoly with my nine-year-old son a few days ago. I was running on the treadmill watching him set up the board. No other siblings wanted to play with him, but he was still determined to get the table ready. He counted out the money for two players and set it in neat piles. My eagle eye audited him as he counted the correct amount of 20s, 10s and so on. He had the hotels and houses segregated and in reserve and ready to go. The banker's money cubbies were filled and in proper order and the Chance and Community Chest cards were face down in their respective piles. He got coasters for drinks, got the chairs just so and got the property cards out of the rubber bands and stacked them in the banker's box.

He looked at me as I was still jogging along on the mill and declared more then asked, "Dad when you are done running are you going to play me in Monopoly or what?" For a split-second I considered saying no, but this undaunted boy still wants to play against me, the unbeaten king of dice and the dream. And everything looked so nice and neat and the multicolored tiny indoor Christmas lights were casting a gaming glow so I said, "Of course I will play you." I hit stop on the mill, turned the machine off, and turned quickly to go up for a fast shower, saying to my son as I passed, "I will be back in a flash, prepare yourself to lose."

Game On

My son knows the ropes, can handle himself to a degree but we all know who is going to win. I sat down and started to accumulate. He did the same. The luck was equal for awhile then I finally got Ventor Ave. and had that yellow monopoly that isn't anybody's first choice. The railroads were split equally, I had Boardwalk but he had both Utilities. And so what I sniffed, I was the only one with a monopoly but I didn't put up a house yet. Loose ends needed to be tied. I needed Park Place which was still available and the green zone properties had Pacific open and my son needed that one for his monopoly.

Hard Lesson

Box cars! I danced my token, tiny Scotty dog, just around the go-to-jail finger pointing policeman and said "twelve" as I landed on Pacific Ave. "You aren't going to buy that are you Dad?" His eyes were looking deep into mine as I declared, "Of course I am buying Pacific". I paid quickly and took the deed, staring down at the transaction chore as I heard him mutter that his game was doomed since there were no other chances for him to get a monopoly. I said aloud and while still looking down counting my cash, "That's how the game goes, it's all about luck and not letting your opponent get those coveted monopolies". I had doubles so I rolled again. Park Place! Its all over now I thought to myself as I stripped off bills for the last remaining blue property.

Feeling a little Guilty

But that feeling passed quickly and the game got a bit dull. I put a house on each of the yellow properties, refusing at the moment to build on the high end lots since houses were pricey and my money was only slowly growing. My son had a good stack of money due to collecting regular puny rents and getting very favorable Community Chest and Chance cards and somehow staying quite upbeat. While I was getting horrible cards, "pay doctor's fee, pay each player, pay for improvements". My son seemed lucky. He was always missing "yellow-hell" as I called it, hitting at worst the Luxury Tax between the blues and declaring cheerfully, "Its better at Luxury and paying the bank $75, then hitting your big blues and paying you double rent. "Plus I will pass 'Go' next roll and get my money back". I looked down at my play money stack, looked at my watch and noticed that ninety minutes had rolled by like ten.

The High Priced Swindle

I knew that eventually I was going to simply grind this win out. I had mortgaged all my useless monopoly busting properties, the one's my son needed, back to the bank, took the proceeds and put up 3 more houses in yellow-hell. The game continued on with him being lucky and me just grinding along. I saw his cash pile keep rising and I actually needed to ask him to change in his 100's for 500's since the bank was getting low on "C" notes. I was getting tired of this and wanted to hasten the eventual ending. I then made him an offer he couldn't refuse. "Son, I will sell you Pacific Ave for $1100; you will then have a monopoly and can start building. I want to cover the mortgage I owe the bank, the 10% interest due and get triple my money on the sale since you desperately need it."

The Counter Offer

I said for him to think about the offer because it was only for a limited time and that I would be back shortly with soda refills. He came up to the kitchen as ice and soda were merging and said, "Dad, $1100 is way too high, it's only worth $320 and houses cost a lot to build there". I said, "Well you need it don't you? He then countered, "Dad how about selling me St. Charles Place instead? I can pay you for it and the houses cost less to build". I said "Hmm, St. Charles is going to cost you $800 and whatever I owe the bank to get it out of hock". In my mind's eye I wanted $800 clear to put up two houses each on the blues, building with Other People's Money. It would then be a race I would surely win; plus my son would feel better getting his own monopoly and seeing some action before his eventual loss. Ok, "Deal" we both declared as we shook hands. Then back downstairs to the game we went with our freshened drinks and minds.

Tables Turned

Seemingly in no time three red hotels stood garishly along the maroon properties, just past the jail. And since he owned the Electric Company too, the entire area was definitely a zone to be avoided. I had two houses each on Marvin Gardens and friends. My big blues had each two "free OPM" houses, but the "lucky hat" token always seemed to catch wind and blow right over my areas of doom, passing "Go" and merrily finding joy everywhere it landed. Then his dice went plop-thud. I finally got him, luck reversing back to my mean. "Ventor Ave. with two houses is going to cost you $900 my boy, I said with a head nod. You could see a lump in his throat as he counted out the money. "This is highway robbery he said loudly". "Too bad I retorted, pay up", knowing that this game would be over sooner than later.

Pay Back

I landed on a railroad I owned and had doubles, rolled again and landed on Boardwalk. "Just visiting one of my holdings" I puffed. He rolled and landed somewhere benign. I rolled an eleven, grabbed $200 for passing go and found myself stopped on St. Charles Place. My son was looking for the deed and whooping it up. "St. Charles with a hotel he blustered is $750." I paid it and looked at the board, my pulse was up. I just lost back most of what I just took from him, but that's fine. I will easily vault over his maroon area, just need to take it easy. He rolled and I didn't pay attention to his roll, must have landed on one of his own properties, whatever, I was staring at my side of the board. I needed to roll anything but a three. No problem, the dice plunked to the board from an unnaturally weak right hand and I rolled a dead looking three. "You are now on Virginia Ave. with a hotel it's $900, more than St. Charles", my son shouted!

Sometimes you Just Know

Now I was cash broke. Why the heck did I sell St. Charles place? Probably bad luck to deal a Saint in such a way. Why did I take that highway robbery money and put up houses on those blue properties? He never lands on them! I hate those yellow properties. How much for those houses if I need to sell them back? He was still on a roll, collecting money from "Go" again. A few turns later and my Scotty dog was on the low end rent side of the board staring ahead towards hotel row. The dice flew out with confidence this time but an eight signaled another huge payday and my undoing. "That's going to be another $900"! I heard this demand in slow motion blurry speech, my senses were melding into an emotional jelly. Mortgaging the blues and selling the houses wouldn't be enough, I would have to take a wrecking hammer into yellow-hell and go begging. My will to fight was broken. "Its over, I forfeit and good game," I said with hand outstretched. Family members appeared out of the woodwork checking out the board, the red hotels, overturned deeds. "I won! Everybody, I beat Dad at monopoly! This is the best Christmas ever!" "Next time, I get the lucky hat", was all I could say.


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