Friday, October 11, 1996

Friday Night in Suburbia

Jennifer's cross-country team has an out-of-state meet this weekend.. She and her team left right after school today for their trip to Connecticut. The other day I handed her twenty-five dollars for spending money on her trip. She looked at me strangely. I was clueless. She finally explained it to me: the girls on her team had plans to go shopping tonight. Ah, I can see it... a dozen teenaged girls descending on a mall. Okay, off to an ATM machine, grab another hundred. No problem, she is very sensible and dependable, and I know she will not spend the money getting her navel pierced.

Nancy and her sister had plans to see First Wives Club tonight. I would have liked to go, but there was nothing playing that Sean wanted to see and, besides, by the time I go home from work there was not really time to eat and still get to a seven o'clock show. So Nancy went off and Sean and I had dinner together, just a couple of guys hanging out together. After dinner we played a little Super Mario Brothers...and I, quite naturally, was no match for him at all. Eventually, we gave up on Nintendo and couch-potatoed with Sliders. Uh, that is, sort of... put a controller in Sean's hand and you will get to see parts of three dozen shows in any given half hour time span. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), Sliders does not exactly require close attention. That program's concept has such great potential, but it never really delivers. I find that especially disappointing because I am a sucker for alternate universe/alternate history science fiction stories.

Nancy got home just as X-Files was starting. That is really Jennifer's program, although I will watch it sometimes. Nancy and Sean can take it or leave it, so tonight we turned off the tube and got out Monopoly. (We basically follow the rules, except we have a house rule that says $100 goes into the center of the board along with all fines and taxes. This money goes to whoever lands on Free Parking. You think that is wrong? Heck, when I was a kid we would always prime the middle with a 500 dollar bill plus all of the fines and taxes. Hmmm, I wonder if this or some varient of this may not be a nearly universal practice?) I always liked gathering properties on the first half of the board and have never much been interested in the higher priced half. There is a very practical advantage to this strategy: it costs much less to build on the lower half, so you can move up to significant rents faster and more easily than in the upscale neighborhoods. I especially love the first quarter. Fifty dollars per house. Once you build up to a hotel, even Mediterranean and Baltic can pay you a nice bit of money. (And since your victims -- uh, I mean guests -- have the cash to pay you because they have just passed Go and picked up their $200 salaries.) Tonight I got my Monopoly in the orange neighborhood. I had Boardwalk and Sean wanted it. I needed New York. His first offer was New York plus $200 for Boardwalk, which is an even swap since New York has a purchase price of $200 and Boardwalk goes for $400. I held out for an extra $100 (for no particular reason other than that he was the one trying to make the deal). It was a lot easier for me to add houses at $100 each compared to the $200 each that it would cost in that ritzy deep blue area. I had nailed each of my opponents at the two house level and had upgraded to three houses when I landed on Free Parking at a time when the accumulated funds came to well over a thousand dollars. Sean and Nancy decided that the wisest thing would be to concede the game to me at that point. Nancy had no monopolies and was blocked from achieving one easily because of my ownership of blocking properties in the neighborhoods where she owned land. Sean did have Boardwalk and Park Place, but he had been unable to get beyond one house each and had no hope of getting funds for expansion other than by being the lucky person to land on Free Parking.

I'm pretty good at Monopoly, although I don't get to play it much these days. When I was a kid, my friends and I played it quite a bit. I liked it so much that I even bought my own copy at Montgomery Wards (The anchor department store in those days in the uptown shopping district in my home town...and, of course, everyone called it "Monkey Wards") using my very own money. If I recall correctly, it cost me four or five dollars, a princely sum of money in the days when a nickel would buy you a small soda and a dime would get a comic book.

Thus, a quiet Friday night in suburbia. Okay, I guess to be a suburb, you have to a neighboring urb to be sub to. Well, many people who live here commute to work in Providence (or the Providence metro area: Warwick, Johnston, etc.), so we are sort of a distant suburb of Providence. (At 160,000 or so in population, Providence is not exactly New York City, but then Rhode Island is a bit smaller than New York State... and "distant" in Rhode Island might be considered to be reasonably close elsewhere.)

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Note: My early entries were full screen width and also had text against a background color; I find that is very annoying and difficult to read so I have changed some of those entries to put the text in a table cell with a white background. The contents of the entry have not been changed. August 2004 migrated from Geocities to
Copyright 1996, 2002 by Jim Lawrence