Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I don’t like Monopoly. I don’t like the whole philosophy that you win at someone else’s expense. I don’t like “Horseopoly”. It’s the same as Monoploy, but instead of London street names, you purchase horses. The houses are replaced by bales of hay and the hotels are transformed into barns, and three throws of double dice sees you packed, not off the jail, but into the trailer! Free Parking is Pasture, and you can win £50, not in a beauty pageant, but in a gymkhana. Disguise it any way you wish, it’s still Monopoly.

Disliking it didn’t mean that I didn’t play it for a few hours this morning. I was babysitting – although the “babies” are taller than I am. They are old enough to amuse themselves, but enjoy board games with visitors. My request for “Uno” fell on deaf ears and the “Horseopoly” came out of the box, along with strict instruction not to gang up on anyone.

I don’t like Monoploy because I generally lose. I don’t have the cutthroat nature necessary to win. I generally don’t rub my hands together with glee while my victim mortgages all her property and empties her bank account because she was unlucky enough to land on the horse equivalent of Mayfair, with its three bales of hay.

Yes, for once I was winning. More by luck than intention and I could see that both “babies” were struggling to keep their stables afloat. There was a deep breath as they rounded the corner and raced down the home straight. The trailer (aka Jail) became a haven where for at least three throws (unless they were unlucky enough to throw a double) they didn’t have to worry about stepping on my property. Theirs was mortgaged to the hilt and posed no threat.

That’s when I came up with my genius idea. I made the most creative deals to keep the game going. I was rolling in money and possibly had more money than the bank. One of my charges landed on the horse equivalent of Park Lane. With three bales of hay she owed me £1,400. I could have gloated. There was nothing to mortgage and the cupboard was bare. My deal? In exchange for her handing over the horse equivalent of Pall Mall, I would un-mortgage all her property for her. Basically she got £750 for something worth £90. The dice fell in her favour and I donated another £200 in the stretch of horses between the Trailer (aka Jail) and Pasture (aka Free Parking). She was considerably cheered

The other charge wanted a deal too. It was only fair. I was prepared to deal, but only if she landed on Mayfair or Park Lane. She had been trying to avoid landing there, but now she was eager to climb over my fence and trespass. She got her deal eventually – some old horse that was only fit for the glue factory in exchange for bales of hay on each of her sets of property.

It was probably the only time that I have enjoyed playing the game – not because I didn’t lose, but because I didn’t want anyone else to lose either. I was absurdly generous and I can imagine that Monopoly-philes would say I didn’t play the game according to the rules.

It made me think about God who doesn’t play by the rules. His generosity towards me is absolutely absurd. Just as I took delight in my deals that lifted the “babies” out of their horse-poo debts that they could never repay – God has lifted me and released me from a debt that I could never repay.

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