Monday, August 6, 2012

She Has the Monopoly on Him

The Hooligan saved up some allowance money and was dead set on purchasing (his word, purchasing) the game of Monopoly. I have played a lot of Monopoly over the years. Sometimes with random and far-reaching consequences (another story for another time.) But I had no idea where the Hooligan had even heard of it. We tried to convince him in the store that it might be a little long and a little tricky for him. He's five.

"Um, yeah thanks, no. I will purchase Monopoly."

All-righty then. It seems to me, that's precisely the sort of mentality one needs to succeed at Monopoly. Needless to say, the last several days have concluded with a family Monopoly game. Like all good socialists, I lose every single time I play. The monkeys love this. They hand me one dollar bills out of pity as I mortgage my paltry holdings to try and pay the Luxury Tax.

The jBird is a real estate magnate, always. But she's generous. Can't pay your rent? She'll smile sweetly, give you a hug and then tell you to pay up. She will occasionally trade a property to boost your portfolio if she feels like it would be fairer if you could build some houses. But mostly she toes the line and calmly demands payment.

The Hooligan, on the other hand, is kind of like playing with a mad, drunken trust-fund baby. He howls if he has to go to jail: "I'm rich! I don't have to follow the rules!" He careens around the board buying properties at random and insisting on smelling the money whenever you pay him rent. He doesn't distribute his houses evenly, creating odd financial landmines all over the board. He always lands on "Free Parking", he always wins the beauty contest, his trust fund always matures, it's always his birthday and we always have to pay him $10 apiece. He cackles with glee, stores his money in an untidy heap in front of him and occasionally rolls in it. Can't pay your rent? He hollers "Give me all your money, sucker!" and then does what he calls "The Hooligan Shuffle" - a little song and dance routine that's half soft shoe, half end zone dance. The boy is insane. His stated goal in any game is the same: "I want to build all the hotels!"

Tonight's epic battle found the jBird and me almost immediately sporting barrels with suspenders. "I'm eating out of garbage cans!" she wailed. She is unaccustomed to the poor house as far as Monopoly goes. Meanwhile, the Hooligan was building "all the hotels" along two sides of the board. He hooted and hollered and danced and offered to let me be his servant when I couldn't pay his steep rent. But then it was jBird's turn. She landed on Park Place with a hotel and couldn't scrape together the cash. She made a big show of handing everything over and taking her thimble off the board. She came and giggled with me in the poor house and played assistant banker. She was fine.

The Hooligan, however, was not. His laughter got a little strained and he started wiping furiously at his eyes. His turn took him past "Go" and as he collected another $200, he started crying in earnest.

"I don't want this! I feel so bad!"
"Why do you feel bad? It's just how the game goes."
"Noooo! I feel terrible that jBird lost everything and it's no fun for me to be rich if she doesn't have anything!"
"It's OK, buddy. Look, Mama lost everything, too."
"But I feel so bad for jBird! She's my sister and she's eating out of garbage cans!"

We finally struck a deal with him to assuage the grief. jBird went and played on his "team" so that he could share his wealth with his sister and then he happily carried on completely stomping his father and me into the ground.

My Hooligan is a sweet kid, but he's a bit of a meathead. He never seems to be paying attention when I try to tell him things. He seems to shrug off just about everything. He's a hugger and a headbutter. He's my baby boy and I love him like only a mother could, but he doesn't have the more universal appeal that his sister does. He's not a networker or a people pleaser. He is, however, fiercely loyal to those he deems worthy. That list includes about five people and his sister tops it.

I have feared for years that he may be in the mob. I think these fears are well founded. When he was three he toddled up and asked me for a thousand dollars. When I asked him why he might need the money, he shrugged and said: "I need to go to North Chicago. Business." These fears have grown to include the mental image of visiting him in some strange mansion one day where live sharks swim in a moat around it and giraffes roam freely through the hallways. I have pictured him answering the door in a silk smoking jacket and nothing else, inviting us in for hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. My waking nightmare has swelled to include wild real estate deals made from jail and pants-less dance parties upon his release.

But I can rest a little easier knowing that if even half of my fears do realize, he'll always have his sister's back.

Author's note: I'm supposed to be writing about inspiration this month. I'm not sure anyone will find my Hooligan's antics inspiring, or even interesting, but when your days get long and you are sweating in places you didn't even know existed, you take inspiration where you can get it.


  1. Uh, let's were both witty and wise? Check. You held my attention all the way through with your images, your story, your thoughts? Check. You put this spin on it in the end that was over-the-top but also very real? Check. You were inspirational? Do I really need to say it :) Check.

  2. Love. It reminds me of my girls. I only hope that they too will take pity on each other if one of them ends up eating out of garbage cans.

  3. "I need to go to North Chicago. Business."

    Now I am in love with the Hooligan. Non-sequitors of this type will win me over every time. They indicate that a deep undercurrent of thought has passed beneath the concrete of my notice, and without, my having to understand, I am impressed.

    This is irritating, but I have to tell you anyway. I can't resist: Once, when Mikalh was three and I had asked my older two to stop incessantly talking about VW bugs in the car, he said, "I want to talk about dark things in shallow waters."

  4. "He never seems to be paying attention when I try to tell him things. He seems to shrug off just about everything. " Four words: Get used to it. They don't listen once they hit about ten..... and it gets a hella lot worse before it gets better.

    Having said that, I loved the piece! I want to take The Hooligan home!

    1. Heck, my Hubs is 37 and still shrugs off everything. He seems to not be paying attention, yet every time I ask him what I just said, he repeats it verbatim. I don't know how he does it.

  5. Will you think me completely weird if I reach out and give your Hooligan a big hug?

  6. I too am in love Hooligan! And check, check, oh and check from mee too ;-)

  7. I will carry the image of the five-year-old mobster with the heart of gold in my pocket all day. I can definitely use the smile.


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