I don’t know why I play Monopoly. It is absolutely impossible to have a pleasant time.
It isn’t even just that I never win. Which I don’t. It’s that no one has a good time. Correction – the person who wins has a good time. They have a ball. They’re rolling in paper money, lording over their hotels and making everyone around them feel insignificant. It’s everything we wish real life could be.
For a moment last night, I was that person. I thought the tables had turned and that for once, I was actually going to win. About ten rounds in to the game, I was the only person on the board with a Monopoly. I had decided to prescribe to my brother’s age-old tactic: buy everything, cut breaks to no one. Being mean is the key to winning – absolutely ruthlessness is necessary. It was working really well, but I wasn’t having any fun. Everyone was just galloping, driving, and thimble-ing around the board and paying me money along the way, but there was no joy in it. My opponents’ faces drooped, hope sank, and the game had become dull.
So I decided to trade.
It’s almost never a good idea to trade. Trading is what causes all the problems. But I considered how many properties I owned, how few everyone else did, and the fact that I’d already landed on Free Parking (house rule: Free Parking = Cash Bonanza) three times. So I made a little trade. Just a little red-property-monopoly-for-me, yellow-property-monopoly-for-my-brother exchange.
It was the beginning of my epic downfall.
I ran around the board several times, relishing in the fact that I had given him a false sense of hope. I had inspired a security in him that would be torn down once I lorded over him with my magenta and red monopolies.
That wasn’t how it happened.
How it happened was that my brother mortgaged all his properties except the yellow ones and invested in hotels. And every time I went around the board, I landed on one and had to fork over a thousand dollars. Every time he went around the board, he landed on Community Chest. No amount of house and hotel building I did on my properties could equal the wrath I faced on Atlantic Avenue last night.
I can’t stand it. I don’t even know why I play. We could have been playing Scrabble or cards – games that involve intellect and laughter. But we played Monopoly – a game of treachery and sadness. And the thing is – I could have won. I could have just hung on to my one Monopoly and let the game play out as I bled my opponents dry. But I decided to trade so that people could actually enjoy themselves. I thought it might shake things up a little bit – let people have a smile. Because I’m a nice person. That’s right. Nice people can’t win Monopoly because it’s impossible to suck someone dry so slowly that each round they have to mortgage another property or offer to give you their firstborn son. Nice people will ease off, and nice people will inevitably lose.
There are lots of board games out there, folks.
Don’t fall for Monopoly. ♣