When it comes to Monopoly, the French are having all the fun. And American parents, like myself, are envious.
To mark the board game's 80th anniversary, toymaker Hasbro, the game's manufacturer, has loaded real money into 80 games and shipped them all over France for some lucky French game buyers to find. It's an ingenious marketing idea; even Willy Wonka would be proud.
No word on whether Hasbro's U. S. division will follow suit, but my first thought was, "I want one of those games. And then I want to immediately play it with my children." My reasoning was simple: I would indoctrinate them into the cutthroat worlds of finance and real estate and, by taking all of their money, teach them that life isn't always fair. Can you hear the evil, guttural laugh emanating from my throat?
My girls, ages 17 and 12, have played Monopoly. Maybe once. More complex and time consuming than early development games like Candy Land and Connect Four, Monopoly's one of those board games that tends to be shunned once kids discover video games and apps. Sure, you can download Monopoly on your favorite electronic device, but is that really more entertaining than rolling dice and moving your metal wheelbarrow around the board as you seek to plunder your opponents into bankruptcy? Of course not. Plus, like most parents, I've grown weary of losing to my kids at everything since everything is now technology driven. While they rack up millions of Xbox points, I try, in vain, to figure out which controller button moves my Jedi warrior forward. It's time for a little payback.
A little PROFITABLE payback.
But, to be fair, I decided to play a practice game with them, using worthless Monopoly money. My plan was to emerge victorious but to make it close. That way they'd be eager for a rematch when the real money game began.
"Okay, girls, let's play," I said one evening. "Who wants to be banker?"
"You can, Dad."
My youngest asked, "How do you play again?"
"You move around the board buying properties. Then you build houses and hotels. If either of you land on my houses, I collect money. Roll the dice."
"But what if I..."
"Roll the dice, honey. I'll help you."
"You go first, Dad."
"Fine. Four. One, two, three ... income tax."
"What does that mean?"
"It means I... owe the bank 10 percent of my earnings."
"Gee that's a lot of money, Dad."
"Tell me about it. Okay, honey, your turn."
"Eleven. St. Charles Place. I'll buy it. Sister, your turn."
"Five. Reading Railroad. Cool. I've always wanted to own a train. Your turn, Dad."
"Three. I get a Chance card. Advance to St. Charles Place."
"You owe me $10, Dad. Can I have two fives instead?"
"Bummer you didn't pass 'Go,' Dad. Then you'd get $200."
"I'm aware of that."
(TWO HOURS LATER)
"Dad, you just landed on New York Avenue. I own that. Start spreading the news ..."
"There's no need to sing. Or gloat."
"But you still owe me $600. Wait, I have FOUR houses on it. That will be $800."
"Dad, maybe you shouldn't have mentioned that the orange properties are the most landed upon."
"I was trying to explain the meaning behind 'location, location, location.'"
"At least you're finally out of jail, Dad. I didn't think you were EVER going to roll doubles."
"Couldn't you have just paid the $50 fine? That's what I would have done."
"I don't have $50. Bad enough that I had to mortgage Baltic Avenue. How embarrassing," I said, glumly.
My oldest asked, "How much money does everybody have?" Fanning her $500 bills, she said, "I have at least five grand here."
"So do I," said her sister. "What about you, Dad?"
"I'm down to $10."
"Hand it over," she said. "My Community Chest card says it's my birthday! I collect $10 from everybody."
"Guess you're out, Dad. Good thing we aren't playing for real money. Want to watch us and see who wins?"
"No, I'm going to head upstairs," I said.
"And do what?"
"Brush up on my Candy Land skills."
© 2015 GREG SCHWEM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC