Column: Monopolizing an evening with games

Monopoly – The game of the masses, the game of champions. I was recently reintroduced to the 1930’s game after having been challenged by a friend who claims to be “undefeated.”

I thought such a claim was laughable and played a game with him to prove him wrong. However, I was unaware that he is a wheelin’ dealin’ cheater. In certain ways, I let him win, and in others I got my proverbial butt kicked. I had no idea a person could trade property or even buy auctioned property if the person who lands on it doesn’t want to buy it.

On the other hand, my friend needs to understand the rules that say more than one hotel cannot be placed on a property, and even if another could be bought, just buying the hotel without first buying another four houses is even less fair.

But putting the rules and the slaughter that ensued aside, I had a lot of fun. I’d forgotten how nice it is to turn the idiot box off for a night, set up a card table, pop some popcorn and settle down for a nice board game. I used to play board games all the time when I was young. Candy Land, Sorry!, Trouble!, and so many more took up hours and days of my life as a child.

But Saturday night I wondered, as monopolies and hotels increased around me, why I didn’t play board games more often. After all, I do love to play games.

However, as hour three passed in Monopoly, I began to get an inkling as to why I didn’t play more often. I was getting rather tired of playing (and that wasn’t just because I was losing horribly), and I also noticed that I couldn’t keep my attention focused on the game. My mind kept wandering and it was only my friend’s maniacal laughter and insults grounding me in the current reality of the game itself.

Even worse, as my attention span grew shorter, I realized my patience also wore with it. I couldn’t even wait for the dice to be thrown so the game could end, even when I was winning for those few brief moments.

In the end, it was my impatience that was my ruin.

By the end of the game I had lost everything but the clothes on my back, but, ironically enough, I wasn’t even upset. I actually felt rather calm and relaxed. I realized during the drive home that board games, when not dragged out over several hours, can be a sort of competitive “Zen” for American families. They can give us time to wind down from the day’s events and an opportunity to relax in our homes while cultivating a sense of friendly competition and strategy.

So often at work, we run around without a chance to breathe, worried the boss will notice our 16-minute break that was supposed to have been only 15 minutes long.

But at home, maybe curled up on the floor with the family dog or at a friend’s house on the porch on a breezy summer evening, perhaps it’s time we all take a few hours a week to enjoy the company of those we love.

Or at least take the opportunity to smear them across Illinois Ave. and Marvin Gardens while reducing them to abject poverty all in the name of good, wholesome fun.

– Michelle Demeter is a graduate student in the Religious Studies Department and is The Oracle news editor.