My husband Jim won’t trade in Monopoly … even if it’s a fair deal, in which we each end up with property that’s comparably priced. You see, Jim would rather no one get a monopoly and make the game go on forever than risk landing on someone else’s hotel and owing rent up the whazoo. And when he does get a monopoly, he doesn’t build with the zeal of a Trump, like I do. I’ll mortgage everything I own and sell my “Get Out of Jail Free” card to buy lousy old Baltic Avenue. Jim prefers to build his empire one house at a time, even if he has the bucks for hotels down an entire strip.
But what bugs me more than anything is that when Jim lands on my Boardwalk with a hotel, he prefers to call the game, while I want to loan him the $2,000 bucks, so we can keep playing.
Mrs. Nice Guy? I used to think so, until I did some serious soul searching and realized I’m not trying to save his skin as much as increase the margins by which I win. You see, I don’t just want to win; I want to win big. I want Jim to be dirt poor and living by the B&O railroad before the game’s over. And yes, I’ve been known to burst into a Satanic “Mwahaha” when he lands on Boardwalk a second time, and the only thing he can offer up is the $10 he won in a beauty contest!
I don’t know what it is about Monopoly, but it brings out personality traits that might not otherwise surface until later in life. I’m no marriage counselor, but it’s my theory that the world would be a better place if every couple played a round or two before entering into a committed relationship.
Case in point: Jim won’t trade in Monopoly. Translation into real life: He won’t share in a Chinese restaurant. He only eats Yen King Chicken, extra spicy, no bamboo shoots. No trading for half my shrimp lo mein.
I’m from New York, where this is a punishable offense. That’s the whole point of Chinese. You pick one from column A, two from column B, put it in the middle and share. Everyone gets a few spare ribs, a little shrimp with lobster sauce … Had I known Jim had a “covet thy Kung Pao” upbringing, I might have thought twice about tying the knot. Now that we’ve said “I do,” I’m doomed to endless years of eating off my own plate. It sucks the fun out of Chinese.
Then again, Jim also got more than he bargained for when he committed to a lifetime with me. Not only am I fiercely competitive; I’m one of those annoying Monopoly players who is constantly straightening out every house and hotel on the board, after every over-zealous roll of the dice. Had we dragged out that game board before skipping down the aisle, Jim might have been forewarned of how truly anal retentive I am, even in my sleep. The foot of my bedding must be tucked in at all times, and my top sheet must extend beyond the top of my comforter, so it neatly folds over into an aesthetically-pleasing, foot-long band.
Enter Jim, who likes to sleep with his comforter pulled up to his nose. Since it’s not long enough to do that when it’s tucked in, he must either tick me off by tugging at it until it’s untucked, or pull his decorative band over his head, risking my wrath at top sheet dislodgement. So Jim sticks to his side of the bed, and I stick to mine. Not exactly the stuff romance novels are made of.
On the other hand, one admirable Jim quality is that he’s not only a humble winner; he’s a good loser. He always maintains that, “Hey, it’s just a game” attitude. In real life, too, he’s someone who rolls with the punches. On our very first road trip, we drove to Lake Michigan, missed a turn on the way home and found ourselves heading towards Indiana. While lots of men would have cursed this mistake and let it cast a dark shadow over an otherwise great day, Jim asked if I’d ever been to Indiana. When I said, “No,” he kept going for the border!
So many personality traits leave a trail of clues during a game of Monopoly. A simple one- or two-hour session can function as a microcosm of an entire relationship. So, single people, I strongly urge you to get out that game board, before Boardwalking down the aisle. Afterall, no one should be forced to sleep in a decorative, but uncomfortable bed. But, hey, that’s Jim’s problem. More importantly, no one should be forced to eat exclusively off their own plate!
Here are my 12 Monopoly types.
Do any of these describe you … or someone you know?
Neatniks — More concerned that their money is perfectly lined up in neat little piles than in actually playing the game. These players have to sit with a certain side of the board — usually Park Avenue and Boardwalk — facing them and insist on being banker, because they trust no one but themselves. Beware. This is the kind of partner who will make you alphabetize the spice rack.
Reckless Abandoners — Mortgage everything they own to buy a new property or hotel. Reckless Abandoners tend to live beyond their means. They spend big bucks on fine dining, exotic vacations and lavish trinkets, but when GMAC comes knocking for the mortgage payment, you’re doomed. This player is about as good at managing finances as a cat is at walking past an open can of tuna.
Used Car Salesmen — Try to sell you on some hair-brained scheme that any half-brained idiot can see only works for them… like giving you Baltic Avenue and Mediterranean for your Park Place. “But I’m giving you a monopoly” they’ll say, trying to make you think you’re coming out ahead in this deal. These are the type of people who turn up on Dateline for bilking old people out of their life savings. Be suspicious if they suggest upping your life insurance.
No Dealers — Won’t make a trade, even if it’s mutually beneficial, because they don’t want you to have a monopoly. Quite simply, the No Dealer is unwilling to share property — pretend or otherwise. As far as these players are concerned, filing a joint tax return does not entitle you to eat off their plate or help yourself to their T-shirt collection. No Dealers are hopeless control freaks. They usually have an all-consuming need to tell you how to do everything better, from how to fold a napkin to how to spray Pam in a muffin tin.
Misers — You think you might skate by without them noticing you landed on their property, but before you even have your hand off your Scottie dog, they’re boasting, “Baltic. I own it. Two dollars!” and holding out their greedy little palm for the rent. These Silas Marners want to see receipts for items as piddly as pantyhose or a Butterfinger and will make you drive 10 miles out of your way to save seven cents on a can of corn. They have no time for romantic dinners or fireside conversation. They’re too busy counting the quarters in their change bowl … or worse, organizing them by state in a commemorative booklet.
Rule Benders — As you begin the game, they suggest putting $500 in the middle of the board and adding to it every time a player has to pay taxes or house assessments. Whoever lands on Free Parking gets to collect this heap of cash. There’s never a dull moment with Rule Benders. They’ll have you trying Tonganese food and flying to Spain to run with the bulls. A word of caution, though: Do not allow a Rule Bender to parent your children. They want to be the fun, rule-bending parents, while you always have to be “the mean one” — the one who won’t let Junior gauge his ears, because “Why on earth does anyone need to be able to stick an Oscar Meyer Weiner through their loebs?”
Alzheimer’s of Convenience Victims — Suddenly remember rules as they go along, depending on how advantageous it is to them. For instance, if they land on free parking, they’ll boast, “I get $500,” but if you land on it, they suddenly remember that’s not in the rule book. This is that schemer who will announce you’re over-budget and need to set a dollar limit on all gift giving occasions. They’ll conveniently lift this moratorium before their birthday rolls around.
Pitiful Pats (a.k.a. Crybabies) — They land on Boardwalk with a hotel and decide they don’t want to play anymore, because they’re losing. They may even mess up the board, so you can’t continue the game. The blame their losses on lousy rolls of the dice and whine that they’re losing, because you keep landing on prime property, while they land on Luxury Tax and Water Works. Avoid this shlub at all costs. Crybabies relinquish their power, instead of swimming out to their dreams. And you know what happens when you sit back and wait for the tide to roll in. All you get is dead fish and seaweed.
Slow and Steady Freddys — Build their empire slowly — one house at a time — even if they have money for hotels, right off the bat. These frugal players prefer to save some cash, in case they land on a high-rent property. They usually collect the railroads. You can’t build on them, but they’re a steady source of income. There’s some merit to getting involved with this type. They’re not as fun as Rule Benders or Reckless Abandoners, but when the furnace blows, there’s money in the bank for a new one.
Lenders — A lender is only a lender if there are three or more players in the game. When one of these players faces bankruptcy, the lender will let them borrow money, so they can keep playing. This is a compassionate person who doesn’t want anyone to feel left out ― what the Jewish people call “a mensch” (a good egg). The Lender will let you have their lemon feta chicken, because your steak’s too well done. They will suffer through Thanksgiving dinner with your most insufferable relatives, because no one should be alone at the holidays.
Loan Sharks ― Loan Sharks are Lenders with bad intentions. They offer to lend you money when you’re the only player left in the game. You land on their Park Place with a hotel and can’t afford to pay, so you smile and concede, “You win,” but they want to spot you some cash so you can keep playing. Why this person is so generous? The answer is simple: Loan Sharks don’t just want to win; they want to decimate the competition. It’s not enough to strip you of everything you own; they want your dignity, too. A Loan Shark will come with you to your cousin Sally’s wedding. But you’ll be cleaning the dog poop out of the yard for the next year.
Negotiators — You land on Boardwalk with a hotel and can’t afford the $2,000 rent, so they strike a deal that if you let them pass for free, you can go around the board three times and not pay them rent if you land on any of their property. It’s a mutually beneficial deal, so you take it. This is the type of partner you want to go out to dinner with. They’ll let you have half of their fettuccine Alfredo for half of your spinach lasagna. You can usually spot a negotiator, even before you’ve started the game. They’ll let you be the shoe … even though they called it first!
A very special thank you to my friend Sandy Sykes, who helped me brainstorm when the well ran dry!