Board Game Brawl
“Come on, Tyler, it is your turn!” Maddi thrust the die at him with the sisterly direction I am so familiar with. And suddenly everyone was screaming. There was money everywhere and the die that were once calmly passed were knocking down hotels and houses and the pile of orange Chance Cards the color of a traffic cone were sprawled across the board. Then everyone stopped.
Half an hour earlier, on New Year’s Day, my family was over at my godmother’s house. We spent that whole weekend together; they were at our house on New Year’s Eve and slept over after. The five kids have been playing various board games for 48 hours .
“ Tyler, that’s a really good deal for you. You want to get as many monopolies as possible, but keep the properties they need to maintain control of the board. The game is all about winning.” I laugh, only to cover it up with a cough. Matt’s voice displayed authority, similar to one of a war general, not a bystander of a board game played by a few kids.
“It’s okay T. You don’t have to change anything if you don’t want to. You’re the player; what you do or don’t do is up to you.” I assure him. At the impressionable age of 7, Tyler was already beating me, his sister, Maddi, and my brother, Soren. I’ve always loved how close we are in age; Maddi is 9 and Soren is 11. Our moms were best friends in high school and still are to this day. They are so close I call them 이 모, pronounced Emo; it translates to Aunt in Korean.
Now we were sitting in the small room in the front of Maddi and Tyler’s house. I can faintly make out the shrieks and giggles from my sister, who is playing in Maddi’s room with Gabi and Carly. The adults gather around the kitchen island, probably discussing high school.
“Hey guys and girls playing Monopoly, 5 minutes left.” Uncle Jeffrey, Maddi and Tyler’s dad calls from the other room. Our four heads shoot up. I knew at that moment we are all thinking the same thing. The glint in Maddie’s eyes and the panic in Soren’s confirm it. Someone needs to win this game. Leaving it without a winner is out the question. The four of us are too competitive to let a game go without a winner. Like all games we play when we are together, the champion of the previous game chooses the next game. And I have to win because I refuse to sit in the basement and play Little Big Planet Karting and watch my brother win every single time. I had to win.
Stealthily (but not so silently) we speed up our game. My once neat stack of Monopoly money was now a scattered heap around my claimed area of the living room floor. Taking the time to clean it up would result in a miss of my turn and 3 voices shouting for me to “pay more attention!” and threats of being “the loser who sits on the couch”. Better to leave it a mess. The brightly colored paper bills are easy to identify; my concern was that Maddi, on my right, would take some when I was not paying attention. But it is easy to notice an out of place five hundred dollar bill in a sea of pink worth 100 times less.
“ Maddi,” a voice calls. Again, we look up simultaneously. I was preparing myself for the game to be shut down, but it wasn’t the case. This time it was Gabbi, Maddi and Tyler’s neighbor and a family friend. Gabbi was previously playing, only to become bankrupt after landing on Boardwalk that Soren and Tyler co-own. That’s something else about the games we play; they are never played according to the rules. In Trouble, there is a winner’s chair and a loser’s hat, which we rotate accordingly around the board as we play. In Chinese Checkers we play multiple rounds until there is a lone victor. And, of course, in Monopoly, we can co-own properties. “ Maddi, I don’t know what happened. But all of the books on your bookshelves fell out. I think…” I glance back at her. Maddi’s shoulder length, straight black hair (that I am so jealous of) swept across her face. I chuckled; it kind of looks like she was attacked. The pale pink barrette that once framed the side of her face was now hanging on for dear life. Tyler, stationed to her right, looked up from counting his money. He looks like a little Uncle Jeffrey. Again, I knew what they were thinking. I knew they were contemplating between helping clean up Maddi’s room and continuing to play our game.
I stand up, making the decision for the group. “Let’s go clean it up before we leave.” Maddi looks at me gratefully. I wink in response, an inside joke, and start to lead the five of them up the stairs. But, to my surprise, Tyler is already at the bottom of the stairs. He is screaming “Let’s go people we don’t have all day,” . Maddi and Gabbi shriek in unison and run up the stairs. I worry they would slip on the hardwood with their socks. Suddenly it is chaos. Everyone is yelling, rushing up the stairs and skipping every other step. My little sister Norah and Gabbi’s sister Carly panic upstairs. They can hear the stampede coming in their direction. I smile and follow the kids upstairs, taking in the mayhem.
After turning the corner into Maddi’s room, I set my eyes on the mess. Gabbi was right. In the far left corner of the room all of the books on Maddi’s two bottom shelves had spilled out onto the floor. I rush towards the mess, attempting to shove the books back into the place using my palms. Maddi slides her way into the group, making only more of a mess. I start laughing and playfully push her hands aside. Soren and Tyler are yelling, Norah is on the floor as a bystander, watching all of the madness go down.
“Ok we are done!” Soren declares. He sprints out of the room with Tyler close at his heels. Maddi and I fly down the stairs behind them. Unexpectedly, Soren jumps over the couch, a move straight out a spy movie. Maddi and I point this out and laugh. But we copy his move, I put my one hand on the couch and use it to support my weight, then swing my legs over the top of the ash grey couch. Maddi does the same.
Fast forward a few minutes and we are back to playing the game. I don’t know if it was the result of our joint competitiveness, but our game doubled in intensity. Maddi was still screaming, which isn’t surprising, and Tyler begins to throw the dice in my brothers direction.
“Come on Soren it is your turn! We have to…” he stops mid yell. I look up to see what stopped him, only to see Soren picking up the dice extremely slowly, no doubt just to annoy his competitors. “SOREN! Hurry up and pick up the dice!” Tyler yells. He isn’t mad though. I notice a smile peeking through the bursts of yelling.
“Alright that’s it!” I jump. Next thing I know, Soren is up from his spot on the floor and is on the chair behind Maddi. “ I can’t play anymore. I need my ears to function and you guys stress me out.” This makes me laugh. I don’t know if it’s the lack of sleep from New Year’s, but I start to go into hysterics. And laughing is contagious, so of course Maddi, Gabi, Soren and Tyler start cracking up too.
“Ok everybody wrap it up,” this time it is my dad. We all are dead silent. Then in the blink of an eye we are all counting our money. Soren rushes to Tyler’s aid, guiding him through the stack of bills in the little boy’s hands. I start counting rapidly, like my life depends on it. Two thousand. Three, four, five, six, seven thousand. Seven thousand five hundred. Seven thousand five hundred ten, twenty, thirty, forty. Seven thousand five hundred and forty one.
“Seven thousand five hundred and forty one.” I shout.
“Five thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven,” Tyler cries after me.
“ Two thousand three hundred and sixteen …” Maddi sighs, pretending to be distraught. But she can’t hide the smile on her face. None of us can. Because it was the start of 2017, and we spent it in the best way possible, no matter who the winner was. (Even though I won).