Saturday, October 13, 2012

'The Carol Burnett Show' Did Monopoly Right...

I think I've been playing Monopoly wrong.

On rainy weekends when I was a kid, my mother and I would often play board games. For things like Chutes N Ladders and Candyland and that weird supermarket shopping one that I loved for its tiny cutouts of cheese and loafs of bread, we'd use the kitchen table. But for Monopoly, we'd sit on her bed. Those games were so long, we needed to be comfortable. 

But even still, we would play without buying houses or hotels. I used to think it was so we could keep the games as short as possible-- because Monopoly is notorious for keeping players hostages for hours-- but thinking about it, that doesn't seem to make much sense. The bigger risks you take by buying a lot of property, the faster you could end up going bankrupt and ending the game quickly anyway. It all depended on where you built.

But that's just it: my mother was never a risk taker, and as I've gotten older, I've realized I have followed suit. In life, she held the same job for thirty years, starting there just out of college and working her way up to as high as she could go in her department. She married her college boyfriend but waited ten years before having me to ensure she was financially sound, and then she stayed with him because a divorce would have been too costly.


She lived in the same apartment from marriage until death, a little rent-controlled unit with a bus stop right in front for easy transportation to her office. And yes, I did say "rent." She never owned. Well, that's not entirely true: she gave her father money for a down payment on a retirement condo, and he never paid her back, so I guess she was part owner of that for a little while.

Maybe I never cared to build houses or hotels in Monopoly because I was just following the way my mother was playing the game. Maybe the way I have fallen into a life that is more comfortable than evolved is just an extension of that. Though I have fought so hard not to do some of the same things my mother has done or make the mistakes I deemed she did, adopting the mentality that created the behavior seems to have been inevitable. Maybe it's genetic. Or maybe it was learned, even subconsciously, through years of watching how she handled things-- even as simple as games of Monopoly.

So does that mean I've been living life wrong?

These days board games are pretty much a thing of the past. Even Monopoly is an App for smartphones and can be played online alone or with strangers. I think the virtual-ness of games, starting with the old Atari and Nintendos back when I was a kid but just not interested in technology allows people today to play games a bit more recklessly-- a bit more as wish fulfillment-- than how they would approach situations in real life. They can be heroes in games. I just hope that begins to bleed over more.

1 comment:

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