I am an extremely competitive person. It’s genetic. At first, it might seem surprising, then, that I did not like board games as a kid. But you see, my dad was the kind of dad who did not let his offspring win just to be nice. I have distinct memories of getting really intense playing Clue. I would think, as he pulled the cards victoriously from the little manilla envelope, “Great Dad. Congratulations. You should be so proud, beating a six-year-old.”
My least favorite board game of all was Monopoly. I hated playing that game. If one of my siblings requested it, I would beg to be the banker. This consisted of me setting up a sock like a rainbow and passing money under it like a bank teller upon the request of my kin. I totally refused to play, preferring to be an innocent bystander (if you can call bankers innocent). In hindsight, this is very telling. I remember hating the idea that you had to spend money to gain money. It did not make sense to me. I could not let go of money to buy a hotel on Boardwalk in hopes of it paying off. I have always thought a dollar is a dollar. Since I was employed as a preschool gymnastics teacher at age fourteen, I have worked hard for money, saved it, and been proud of having enough of it. I hated the feeling of taking money from people just because they landed on my square. I hated the idea that there was a set amount of money, and we had to fight each other for it. I hated that one person became the winner when other people ran out of money. Randomly being sent to jail sent my childhood morality into complete chaos. Not even the cool silver hat piece could coax me into the insanity of it all.
It should not surprise you, then, to learn that as a thirty-one year old, I have never owned property. It makes sense to me to pay a reasonable amount of money to ensure a roof over my head, just enough space, and let someone else put time and money into keeping it up. I love my lack of mortgage, being able to come and go as I please on a twelve month lease basis. Also, I am obsessive about the idea of Monopoly that a dollar won means a dollar lost for someone else. If a shirt is cheap, I wonder about the factory conditions. As I accumulate wealth, I wonder whose cost it is at. There is actually no such thing as a free lunch. I really hate money. It scares me.
Monopoly haunts me to this day. I have been able to keep my hatred of the board games at bay in adulthood fairly easily. But it is creeping back. What if Dan and I decide to procreate? I have heard that your kids will bring out all of your neuroses. I am imagining having kids who want to play Monopoly constantly. Well, finally, I have an alternative. Co-opoly. Check it out. From their website:
This is an exciting game of skill and solidarity, where everyone wins – or everybody loses. Will the Point Bank continue to dominate the players’ lives, or will they break free and take control by jump-starting the movement for a truly democratic and cooperative economy in their community?
At first, you may laugh at the hippie-ness of it all. But really think about it. What if these were the ideals we could instil while we played? What if we left the winning and losing to the soccer field and started looking at economics as a deeply relational issue? It seems like an essential game change if we are ever going to free ourselves from economic violence.
I believe in co-operatives, and many people are starting to see co-ops as a creative option. But co-ops are hard work. It gets messy. You know, human messy. How cool if we could get better at the ideals of it by playing, by practicing. How cool to be able to put my competitive nature toward the good of everyone! I may just have to revisit board games. Maybe.