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The first time you play Monopoly will be in the first week of January as part of a monthly board game night at a local bookshop. You will play with your partner, your best friend and their partner. After three trips around the board you will have lost or spent all of your money. You continue to drink while they play, you get too drunk and start to call them all ‘capitalist pigs.’ Everyone knows you don’t mean it but the insults bring an unfortunate edge to the atmosphere. You and your partner go home early, the next day you apologise for being so drunk. They say it’s ok, you want to believe them.
The first week of February sees you playing Monopoly with the same people at the same night. This time you make it around the board four times before being bankrupted, this time by your best friend’s partner. You laugh it off, not wanting to cause the same scene as in January but your previous actions quickly create a nervous atmosphere. You drink as they play and, although you don’t go to the same lengths as last time, a few unnecessary ‘quips’ bring down the tone of the evening. You and your partner go home early, the next day you apologise for being so drunk. They say it’s ok, you want to believe them.
March. The monthly board game night. Your partner asks if you’re sure you want to go, wouldn’t you rather sit in and watch a few episodes of The Wire instead? You say that it’s fine, that it’s all under control. That you won’t let the evening be ruined just because you lost at Monopoly. They reluctantly agree. Your best friend, who you haven’t spoken to since last month, welcomes you warmly. They kiss your partner on the cheek. Did that kiss go on a bit too long? Is that level of eye contact indicative of something else? You push it to the back of your mind. You’re being ridiculous. You play Monopoly. This time, thanks to some particularly shrewd and clever play by your best friend, you’re bankrupt before you can even pass ‘Go’ for a third time. The evening pans out as before. They play, you drink. Nobody says anything that isn’t necessary for the game. You go home early, your partner stays behind. They arrive home late and don’t say a word as they get into bed.
In April you decide to invite your best friend and his partner over for dinner and, to put it to rest once and for all, another game of Monopoly. The dinner goes well, the evening becomes relaxed and happy. Nobody even thinks twice when you bring out the game and start to set it up as your partner cleans the table. Your friend helps as you arrange the pieces before offering to go through and give a hand doing the dishes. Once the board is ready you go through to the kitchen to tell the others only to find your partner and your friend kissing in the kitchen. They leap back suddenly, they apologise, they try to explain. You cannot think. You leave the house and go to stay with your parents.
May. You have successfully destroyed the Parker Brothers factory and are now sitting in a tree outside your once friend’s house. Your dog is barking. Your top hat is tattered and worn. You do not have a car. Your now ex is in the house. Your friend’s partner is also there. From your vantage point you can see that they’re playing Happy Families. You barge in and demand to play. Terrified, they deal the cards and, until the sirens come, you win hand after hand after hand after hand after hand.