GateHouse — First of all, the good news is that Monopoly is NOT getting rid of jail. JAIL IS SAFE, EVERYONE. Well it’s not safe, because it’s still jail, and I’ve heard enough about “Orange Is The New Black” to know what I’m talking about, but you get the point.
This is a big deal because last week there was concern when The Internet, which is the thing you read when you sort of want news but mostly want to know about “14 Things That Happened When A Waffle House Opened In The Braves’ Stadium,” reported that a new version of the venerable board game was doing away with jail.
That’s right: NO MORE JAIL! Why, the very thought of it was enough to send the Internet’s army of unpaid clones into a tizzy about the injustice of a world that allowed modified board games, an injustice that was so fierce and disturbing that it left little energy for fact-checking, which would have saved loads of time since the story turned out not to be true. I KNOW, you’re saying, The Internet usually doesn’t get things wrong, unless it’s Boston bombing facts or the name or the occasional school gunman, but it’s straight-up all over this “32 Signs You’re A Weasley” thing.
Let me back up a little: For you youngsters reading the paper (HA!), this “Monopoly” is a Precambrian “board game” once played by children before the invention of a video game you played by hopping around your living room like a lunatic, and it basically made family-friendly sport out of basic economics. That’s probably why fewer people are playing it now, because most modern parents can’t hand over even fictional cash to theoretical utilities without bursting into tears.
But that is beside the point. The thing that’s right in front of the point is that Monopoly remains great, and I’m not just saying that because I am an unequivocal Monopoly kingpin, I am the LeBron James of Monopoly but with more tattoos, I am what God would be like playing Monopoly, had He more time for family game nights. (He should, they’re important.)
In fact, there was one night in which I came close to losing several friends and one fiancé over Monopoly, thanks to a game in which — and I hope here that I don’t sound needlessly arrogant or overwrought — I played the single most magically wondrous game of Monopoly known to this world or any other, past and present, real or imagined, forever and ever amen. Believe me when I say that I ownnnnnnned this game, yeah, that’s right, with seven Ns. I had cash pouring at me like I was a JP Morgan executive bathroom. The orange properties? Mine, and coated in houses. The yellow properties? Mine, and a thriving high-end market. Boardwalk? Park Place? In my pocket; I thought about them sometimes when I was yawning.
And I guess in hindsight I might have gotten a little smug and possibly sort of drunk about it, because by the end of the night three people had left my apartment with so much as a breath of goodbye, and I kind of didn’t notice until the next morning? There was also the matter of why my fiancé at the time wasn’t talking to me? Also later I learned that one of them had written something like “Vrabel is the biggest punk I’ve ever seen. All conniving. That dude would sell out his own flesh for a railroad,” which is a lie, because of course I would never do that for anything south of the yellows.
Anyway, that was a long time ago, and I’m still friends with nearly half of those people. But that was with Original Monopoly, the version I played when I was 7; it’s yellowing and the dog piece is missing a leg and it still kind of smells like my old basement, but it’s there. These days, of course, things are different. There’s a version that uses debit cards, which robs players of the cruel, despotic joy of having secret $500s stashed underneath the game board to crack out when someone gets all grabby with the rent bill. “Gosh, Dad, I don’t know how I could possibly pay for three houses on Pennsylvania Avenue unless it’s with THIS HOT FRESH FIVER BOOM, WHAT YOU GOT NOW, OLD MAN?” Or, you know, however you played it in your house.
But that takes away from my main point, which is that, like everything from my youth, Monopoly should remain exactly how I remember it for the rest of time. It doesn’t need upgrades, it doesn’t need versions for attention-deficit twentysomethings. It needs to remain old and musty, with three-legged dogs and jails and fewer players like me, probably.