by Kevin Burton
My wife and I loved our South Dakota-Nebraska vacation last fall. We really didn’t want to come home.
On the way home I kept a Nebraska station on the car radio well past the point where we could actually hear it well enough to recognize a song.
“Hey, if Nebraska is still on the radio, we’re still on vacation,” I reasoned.
Well that can’t last of course. Reality set in around Salina.
But never fear, my fellow travel fans. Even though we can’t be in South Dakota all the time, we brought South Dakota home with us.
While in state we visited a toy store, where Jeannette selected for purchase, approximately twenty-five games and puzzles as gifts for the child population of her son’s household. On the way to checkout, I selected one for us.
It’s called South Dakota-Opoly. By its name you know what it is. It’s a version of the marathon capitalist greed game with properties and locations relevant to South Dakota.
All the way through fall and winter the game stayed in its plastic wrapping. But now that spring has sprung we decided Saturday we would open the box.
For me it turned out to be Pandora’s box.
It has been so long since I’ve played Monopoly and it seemed we both had forgotten some of the finer points.
Jeannette re-acquired the feel more quickly than I. For in short order, my real estate tycoon wife had rudely booted me into the poorhouse.
How did I go bankrupt? Two ways, gradually, then suddenly.
That is a Hemmingway line from “The Sun Also Rises.” I slipped it in here so I could at least get credit for being well read, after failing so miserably at South Dakota-Opoly.
How could it have been worse? Maybe a paper cut from the brightly-colored money? Maybe a film crew to record it for posterity?
It took me two hours to lose the $1,630 I had at the start of the game. I’m sure Jeannette tripled hers.
Owing Jeannette $200 in rent, I handed over my last $66, still short by $134. Game over I thought, I’ve defaulted. In fact, I had been buying properties I knew I couldn’t afford, in an attempt to end the game and squirm free of my misery.
“Not so fast,” said Jeannette. And you know, It’s wicked hard to escape from a Monopoly game. About the time that ache in your lower back sets in, it’s like “oh yeah, that’s why I haven’t played this game since the Carter Administration.
Properties, I had properties, twelve of them. I could mortgage them or sell her one, to raise the $134 needed to pay my debt. She had a helpful Machiavellian suggestion as to exactly which property I should sell her.
If I took her up on it, I could flail my way around the board liquidating everything, one by one, until at last, I would get down to the dreaded “sell your plasma” card.
This beatdown had me longing for a good game of Scrabble. Our usual just above 400 for me, just above 200 for her Scrabble score is a nail-biter compared to South Dakota-Opoly.
Actually the game is still there sitting on an auxiliary card table, fixed at the point of my despair. The board, cards, dice, money, tokens, everything is in place. We can pick it up where we left of next weekend.
Here’s another twist. Jeannette suggests, what if we pick up again, but I assume the fat hand and she takes the losing side?
Wooh no. Not falling for that. I do that, and she starts winning everything, turning the tides to where she is back in the penthouse again, my shame not doubled, but squared.
Jeannette landed twice on the “I ♥SODAK” corner square. That’s the one that lets you pocket all the money from the middle of the board. Did I land on it? Never!
Well I ♥Stensland Family Farms, the heaven-on-earth ice cream emporium we discovered in Sioux Falls. I do not ♥ this board game.
My margin of defeat kept me from full appreciation of the tourist attractions listed as properties in the game. Among the ones I bought were Wind Cave National Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Broken Boot Gold Mine and a little thing we call Mount Rushmore. The latter alone should have made me the winner but it doesn’t work like that.
There is a square in this game called “Big Fun” which is anything but. If you land on it as I did, it might give you a card that says “stand up and demonstrate your best bull-riding technique.” You get $50 if you do it, lose $50 if you don’t. I made the wrong choice.
I drew from my experience watching bull riding on ESPN for seconds on end, because I didn’t change the channel fast enough, and for fifty lousy play dollars, did the pantomime. Jeannette was laughing so hard she was snorting.
At least I had the presence of mind to pull the curtains closed before doing so.
And before I go, I better just admit that I never actually read “The Sun Also Rises.” The late great broadcaster Vin Scully referenced the quote I used on the Saturday Baseball Game of the Week years ago. So I don’t even have that.
There, that should do it. That should make the humiliation complete.
div dir=”ltr”>Well guess you know I was laughing about your bull riding attempt.
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