Yesterday I picked my 10-year-old grandson Booker up from school. He was barely in the door of our house when he made a mad dash for the Monopoly game. You see, I had trounced him the last time we played and he was now out for revenge. Fueled by a big glass of milk and a homemade muffin, he eagerly assumed the role of banker and handed me the property cards. His racecar token and my shoe, were placed on Go. We rolled the dice to see who would go first. Taking alternate turns, Booker and I raced around and around the board, buying up as many properties as possible and collecting $200 when we passed Go. Booker frequently landed on Chance or Community Chest and took delight in collecting prizes such as Second Prize in a Beauty Contest ($10) or an inheritance of $50. (This is a little different from playing with his cousin Lena, who tends to make up her own rules, purposely miscounts the number on the dice to get in the space she wants and pouts or quits when things don't go her way.)
I come from a long line of Monopoly players. On rainy days at Clear Lake, as many as six of us would crowd around a rickety card table and play one game that lasted all day, taking breaks only for lunch and snacks. We'd aggressively try to beat each other, but bail out anyone in trouble so they could stay in the game.
I had managed to buy up all the properties from St. Charles Place to New York Avenue (one whole side of the board), as well as the cheaper brown and light blue ones. He concentrated on the opposite side, acquiring the more expensive real estate, all except for Park Place, which was held by me. In a savvy deal, I traded that property to him for a couple of others I wanted. Soon we were both putting little green houses on our fiefdoms. He blew almost of all of his funds putting three expensive houses on both Park Place and Boardwalk and I had to bail him out with some cash a few times. Trouble was, every time he got to the corner where the jail was located, Booker faced the gauntlet of my built-up properties on that side of the board and was sweating bullets. Time after time, he escaped disaster by landing on a railroad he owned or Community Chest. His luck didn't last forever, though, and soon he was handing me large sums in rent, badly depleting his cash reserves.
Unfortunately for him, not once did I land on those highly improved upscale properties. Poor Booker was saved from total ignominy by the arrival of his mom, who had just finished work for the day and wanted to get home. We packed up the game, knowing that he would seek revenge another day.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.