More laughing please.

My favorite piece was always that black Christmas tree-like one.

A recent NY Times article regarding Monopoly rules had me reminiscing today of a time when laughter came much more easily, even while learning difficult life lessons about fairness, respecting others, and being kind.

Take a quick read of the article first so you can see where I’m coming from: Monopoly Fans Invited to Rethink Rulebook  BY MARY PILON

My favorite rule:

Perhaps most overlooked by lay players is the rule that if the owner of a property fails to ask for rent before the next throw of the dice, no rent is collected. It’s the cardboard version of “you snooze, you lose.”

Perhaps my siblings (I’m second of six) may remember my “rolling doubles” strategy:  if I rolled doubles, and the number on the dice meant that I would land on some else’s property  — which I became adept at spotting in a split second, without even moving my token, knowing the layout of the board like the airplane patterns on my pajamas — I would immediately pick up the dice after the doubles roll with my right hand, pick up my token with my left hand and jump-move it to the player’s owned property in one quick motion, and as soon as I touched it on the property, I would throw the dice again (allowed from having first rolled doubles), such that I could move away from the property before the owner could even open his/her mouth to say, “Mine!”  My pouty siblings would argue, but I would push through to win (“He always has to win,” they would complain) claiming complete innocence and righteousness under the law of the game, as outlined above, even though some might argue my strategy was not in the true spirit of gaming.

They eventually caught on though, and if I ever rolled doubles, they began to count just as quickly as I did where the doubles would take my token, and would immediately shout “Mine!”  My counter to their counter then became that after rolling doubles I would immediately pick up the dice and throw them again — without even moving my token, or even seeing where it would actually land when I did.  So then they began to refine the counter-counter-strategy to yell “Mine” every time I rolled the dice, whether it was a doubles roll or not, just to be extra safe against my treachery.  In fact all the other players would start yelling “Mine” at the same time, and then even as I merely picked up the dice for my first throw!  Our games got very noisy.  Ah, youth.  Those were the good old days.

I remember playing with the family once, on a rained-out vacation day at Canadohta Lake, when even Mom and Dad had the time to try to play a relaxing game with their house-bound restless chicks.  There were so many players, and I got impatient with the speed of play, my younger siblings having trouble just keeping two dice in one little hand, and I once moved the person’s piece who’s turn it was, because I couldn’t wait for the person (probably one of “The Little Guys” as we older ones called them) to slowly count his/her way down the board to the landing spot.  Dad frowned and rightly scolded me, and I sat back down and stewed.  Of course he was right, but jeez-o-man, this game would take forever, I was thinking.  So, when my turn came and I saw by the doubles number I had luckily rolled (“He’s so lucky,” someone would complain) that I needed to execute my doubles strategy, I did the quick jump-move and re-roll of the dice.

Dad immediately recognized the move — had he done this in his own youth? — and was not happy.  He glared and I think he wanted to perform his patented firm back-of-the-head whack, and I had expected it for my continuing super-charged and unkind play, but perhaps a quick glance or soft arm-touch from Mom made him instead feint it, or somehow hold it back, and he instead strongly banished me from the game.  I remember leaving the cramped cottage we were all in, and storming out into the grey day.  I think Mom tried to stop me, but Dad said, no, let him go.

I gradually got over feeling sorry for myself, and knew that I was wrong.  I vowed that I would try to be nicer, and not employ the strategy again, except in jest now and then to get a rise out of my siblings (although they can attest at our next family reunion to whether or not I was able to always adhere to my vow).  I think the deal I struck with myself was to not deploy the quick-doubles-throw strategy on my family, but that in exchange I would continue to utilize it with my friends, and did — at least until they got upset, and then of course the strategy lost its fun, (and I was in danger of losing friends!), and so the strategy would from thence become only a jest, and not serious, or legal, in those circles as well.   And if someone so attempted, we would argue and point and wrestle and laugh so hard until someone spewed out their partially chewed corn curls, or farted, resulting in a laughter encore, and someone (usually the person losing) would “accidentally” boot the board into a Wizard of Oz tornado of colored money confetti, deeds and chance cards, green houses and red hotels.

The wawdwol takeaway is to allow yourself the time to harken back to those days of easy and frequent laughter, especially when you stress yourself trying to get your own way, and to strive to laugh like that again – easily, and heartily.  Just don’t kick the board over, okay?

One final note: Despite coming to our own terms with the rule as stated above, I would argue that the rule begs an emotional, intellectual, and even ethical subjectivity in how long a person who rolls doubles must wait in order for a property owner to say, “Mine.”  So beware, siblings, nieces, and nephews, this “must-win” “so lucky”strategist may once again strike, when you least suspect…  Mooo-ahahahaha.

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8 Responses to More laughing please.

  1. Susan Ketigian says:

    Great writing, Dave! Here’s to more doubles!

  2. Susan Rusbasan says:

    Thanks so much, Dave. I sent this onto the kids. They both are in the midst of AP Mock exams, papers, job hunting, etc. I told them to enjoy some of the simple pleasures, play a board game with friends and remember to laugh. You always have the perfect words. xoxo Sue

  3. Michael Ketigian says:

    This one got me laughing easily and heartily! Great job conveying the family dynamic so colorfully with nothing but clunky symbols.

  4. Ginny Clark says:

    Dave, I think that you are just trying to pre-empt and prevent a popular movement to play strictly by the rules at the next reunion, thus keeping the game to an average time of 90 min, as the article stated! [Though Jen and I may be the only two populists in favor of this movement..]

  5. Diane Wiles says:

    Good one!

  6. Rick Atkinson says:

    Loved the post. I always thought the best part of the game was pulling off that masterful trade of properties that put you over the top.
    At the Atkinson house, we still play the annual Christmas Day Monopoly game, and the kids won’t trade with me anymore unless they are absolutely forced to do so.
    Best to you and Jen. Hope all is well.

  7. says:

    Love this. Next time you’re over we are playing Twister!!

  8. Jamie says:

    Monopoly, and your family, taught you that nice guys don’t always win first, but eventually they’re the winners…i enjoyed this!

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