Archive for Monday, March 21, 2011


River City Jules: Family weekend left to Chance

March 21, 2011


Our family finally had a free weekend. No practices, work, games or anything else forcing us to leave the house.

We slept in, we watched TV, we did nothing worthwhile, and it felt great.

But after a few hours of living la vida lazy, we were bored.

“How about Monopoly?” Amelia suggested.

Like H-O-R-S-E, I have always enjoyed Monopoly, yet never had the skills to win. The potential for that streak to end was too alluring to pass up.

It should be noted here that, while my husband and I love each other deeply, we are two highly competitive people who really should not play in the same sandbox. From picking a movie to guessing who will get kicked off “American Idol,” we know how to suck the fun out most anything that has potential to, at some point, result in someone winning.


My husband got off to an early lead by winning the roll-off to start the game, Amelia, Caroline, Luke and I followed close behind. Our oldest daughter chose to observe from her bedroom for the first few rounds of play.

We bought a few lots, made a few trades and helped Caroline run the bank. Amelia and I took over all the railroads, and Luke did his best to stay out of jail, a trend I can only hope he continues throughout his life.

But as the day rolled on, the competition intensified. My husband found a loophole and skipped out on paying Amelia rent. Caroline was fired as the banker. Luke had moved on to Angry Birds, and Ellie took over his top hat.

And then, while brokering a deal with Amelia that would guarantee him income from Kentucky Avenue to Marvin Gardens, my husband revealed his business plan.

“Amelia, I’ll give you all the free rent you want, I’m just trying to beat your mom.”

Game now on, I cruised through his occupied territory via B&O; Railroad and erected more hotels than Leona Helmsley from St. Charles to New York, a stretch my prison-hopping husband seemed to frequent.

One by one, we dismantled our children, unapologetically repossessing their mortgages and kicking them out in the cold, leaving just his cannon and my iron on the board.

Frothing at the mouths like bitter rivals, we battled, we bought, and we paid each other thousands. Our children had grown bored (or afraid) and abandoned us. Our knees locked as we sat cross-legged before the coffee table, neither one willing to relinquish the lead and tend to our now homeless offspring, who tried unsuccessfully to get our attention (something about being hungry) until the Cannon finally landed on a pimped-up Virginia Avenue. The $2,700 rent was too steep for the Cannon, and he conceded just in time to catch Luke, who had loaded a bowl of ice cream for dinner.

It was 8:30 at night.

Iron and Cannon, parents of the year, fed their glassy-eyed children and put them to bed without passing Go, and they all looked forward to soccer season starting soon.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at


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