when playing the game, I always wanted the purple properties, then in order: the light blue ones and the red ones (next came yellow, sienna, and public utils)… we’d play for hours until everyone except for my aunt, paternal grandmother, and myself sat there into the wee hours of the night(s) – everyone else had folded. my aunt and grandma taught me how to play Monopoly – and the best part!: my father couldn’t make me go to bed – he was trumped by his mother/sister. like chess games, a couple of our games took multiple visits… my sisters and cousins would get all upset… “unfair.” not just because they had to go to bed before me (and they were older) but also because they weren’t still in the game.
the three of us would sit at the diningroom table, drinking tea and eating vanilla wafers, talking about events and friends and… (they did most of the talking – I’d listen and ask questions about their lovely stories/friends… I was five/six/seven during these elongated games). there was nothing anyone could do to stop the fun; they were my idols. both women had impressive memories, and even if continuations of the game went into further evenings or if still no victor: their next visit – which sometimes wasn’t for months, we’d have memorized the board… knew exactly who was where and who went next and how much each had in bucks (never wrote any of this down, just remembered…). a few times, bratty sibs would try to rearrange monies and houses and hotels and game pieces’ placements – but when we resumed – without my grandmother or aunt complaining or even addressing these interferences, we’d all agree quickly on the correct(ed) situation as it had been laid out last time we’d played …before we’d left it to the future.
it was explained to me by my grandma during our first family game that when you drew the “get out of jail free” card, that was a good one to have and hold onto – just in case you landed behind bars – you wouldn’t need sit there until you rolled doubles… so be happy when you drew that card. once, when my grandmother had rolled to end her turn landing in jail, I offered her this “special card” I had drawn earlier – so she wouldn’t have to stay there. my older sister and eldest cousin shouted horribly at me and made a huge fuss that I was a cheater to do so. (grandma was smart – she almost always won; sometimes my aunt would win – once, I won; it wasn’t who won – it was watching the two of them coordinate their efforts in the beginning and then, once everyone else had folded, the respect they held for each other as they continued to play; now, against one another – with me in tow …fascinated.) anyway, I didn’t mean it to be cheating; I just loved to watch her play and wanted her out of jail and back into the game immediately…so I could continue to watch as she gently/quietly strategized further, amassing her monopoly empire.
she did turn down my offer – I meant well by it/my offer to give my GOOJF card; I wasn’t trying to cheat anyone else… I remember thinking everyone else must be as entranced as I was to watch her (them) play – as, had it been my aunt that landed in jail, I would have offered the same… and I remember thinking that by offering to get her out of jail in giving her my card would make everyone else happy too – so we could all continue to watch. instead, grandma thanked me for wishing to help her; then, she rolled doubles! then again, then a last roll that allowed her the purchase of the last of her three green properties – and immediately having enough cash to set up hotels on all three right then, right there -not a house before! she won that game too – but it took another three evenings (same trip/visit) after everyone else had left the game… first to take me out – then my aunt (finally). I was always allowed to stay up the further night(s) it took for one of them to win after I was eliminated. I’d catch it from my sister/cousin (the following evenings) how unfair this was. I was too young to understand why they allowed me this privilege and grandma/aunt margo certainly would never have said anything to the others (or me) in explanation, but I think it’s because they understood how fascinated I was to be part of their fun. Nor did I understand why my eldest sister/eldest cousin became so enraged, sometimes downright mean to me during those periods of the continued game… so during the days, there were butterflies to play with and a tire swing up at the back of the property by the barn… so I’d isolate myself away from them during those days… waiting with delight (anyway) for the game to resume those evenings.
and never! did either my aunt nor grandma ever announce they’d had enough prior to a game’s end – the game was started, it would be finished… again, fascinating! nobody else (except one) I ever played monopoly with had that same we started this, we’ll finish it resolve as those two glorious women. I hardly ever played much with friends my same age (or my siblings when my aunt/grandma weren’t involved) cuz they’d get frustrated, bored, sometimes volatile over games started if they weren’t winning. …so the games played with my aunt/grandma were really my only times to play the Great Game as a child.
I also learned an enormous amount by way of three others’ acceptance(s): my father, uncle, and grandfather – none of them could ever win a game of monopoly against grandma/aunt margo/(or me!), but each was a brilliant man in so many other ways …and I’d quietly watch as daddy and grandpa and my uncle folded gracefully from the game when it was their turn(s) to be eliminated; later noticing them talking in front of the fireplace, or reading National Geographics (my father had a whole bookshelf wall filled with the mags – it was his fave – and if you squished your eyes half-way closed, it made it appear as if the wall the fireplace was built into was painted yellow! which didn’t match the rest of the living room!!!) or some book somebody had started was picked up… – and then, before each went to bed – usually way after midnight – I think they only stayed up so late to let us know they were still interested in our fun and perhaps a possible outcome? – one by one, my father, my uncle and my grandfather would come kiss each of us on our foreheads before retiring, themselves.
those family monopoly games also taught me differences in personalities: how staying quiet to allow siblings and cousins to blow steam without arguing back… tolerance made everything fun (and kept your head clear so you played better)… that a single goal of getting Park Place/Boardwalk wasn’t always the smartest one to have: if Mediterranean was available, start there – cuz you may never achieve Boardwalk… but reality taught you: overlooking the purple ones would almost certainly take your money later on.
but: you never imagined the get out of jail free card was used other than during a monopoly game… then without any warning, you fall down that rabbit hole one day; and others placed alongside of you in some crazy place you landed – uh-oh, oh-no – damn it, it’s real – become some bizarre nightmare; and in this game, they all received get out/stay out of jail free cards… which is what started the mess in the first place. hmmm? had my aunt and grandma still been here, he wouldn’t have become governor and they’d all be in jail. I miss them.