Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Do not pass, go!

I love this time of year. The air is cool and crisp. The leaves are beginning to turn. Halloween decorations are appearing.

It can all mean just one thing: Monopoly is back at McDonald's.

Today, October 2, is the day that I willingly give in to the hype, allowing myself to be swept away by the marketing juggernaut that is the McDonald's advertising machine. Today is the day that I make the annual affirmation: This is going to be the year. I can feel it in my bones.

And I put my money where my mouth is. This morning, after having reheated (and being mildly repulsed by) day-old coffee, I decided to ditch the normal morning routine and head to the local drive-thru.

"Welcome to McDonald's. Can I help you?"

"Um, yes, what comes with a Monopoly game piece?"

"Sir, I just got here. I don't know. The game started today, and I don't have a list."

"Could you find out for me."

Pause. "OK." Long pause. "Hash browns."

"Great. I'll have two. And a large coffee."

"That'll be four dollars and..."

I was at the window before she could tell me the total price. I traded money for a chance to win money. As soon as my breakfast was in the car, I ravenously peeled the game piece stickers from the hash browns and began sticking them onto the free game board. Pennsylvania Railroad. Baltic Avenue. States Avenue. Marvin Gardens. OK. No big win yet. But these things take time.

Throughout the day, I'd consult my game board, strategizing, planning. If I could get Ventnor and Atlantic Avenues, we'd have earned $25,000. Or, if I could just collect B & O, Reading, and Short Line Railroads, I'll be set for a quick $100 (which would just about cover our month-long Monopoly investment).

When my wife called and asked what I'd like to do for dinner, I blurted out: "Monopoly. I mean, McDonald's."

On the way home, I pulled into the same drive-thru. The conversation began in much the same manner as our morning exchange.

"Welcome to McDonald's. Can I help you?"

"Um, yes, what comes with a Monopoly game piece?"

She rattled off a longer list of items that brought the promise of big winnings. I ordered exclusively from that list.

I could barely wait to come home. I whipped the car into our parking spot and scurried to the door, arms full of game pieces and their attached beverages and food items. We sat down to eat, but before I dug into the Big Mac (which I don't particularly care for beyond the context of the hype and hope of large-scale financial windfalls), I spread out our game board. Together, my wife and I peeled the game pieces and affixed them to their cognate positions on the game board.

"What do you have?" I asked her.

"Pennsylvania Railroad," she replied.

The long-forgotten sensation of disappointment in duplicate game pieces washed over me, dampening my enthusiasm.

"Already have it. What else you got?"

"Um, Baltic Avenue."

"Great. Got that one already, too."

And so it goes. With each new game piece revealed, the likelihood of collecting novel game pieces diminishes. We incrementally fill our game board, a single conspicuous unattained hard-to-find property in each set. Every now and again, McDonald's throws us a bone: 10% off at Foot Locker or a free ring tone or breakfast sandwich.

Anyone who's played Monopoly with me knows that I will stop at nothing until I win, just as I evaded paying rent to my wife when I landed on her property (with a hotel) while she was in the restroom (she never called "time out" or asked another player to be a surrogate guardian of her properties). Of course, she won that night. I came in second. Our guests came in third and fourth. Not that I'm keeping track.

I am not deluding myself: I know the odds are against me. That's just how I like it. I am the underdog. It will make the victory all the more glorious when small-time kid hits it big.

I haven't won yet. But, it's only been one day. It's not a sprint, but rather, like any respectable game of Monopoly, a marathon. And this thing goes until October 29 (or while supplies last).


Russ Parker said...

Nice long one. Nice dig too.

Sara said...

Best of luck to you with your monopoly endeavors. If I eat at McDonalds, I'll be sure to pass along whatever pieces I get. :-)

Russ Parker said...

But wouldn't McDonald's pieces collected Dixide be useless "Stateside"? Like Con. Dollars?

Trevor said...

Spoon has written a song that would be fitting for you. You can watch the video for the song here. It could be your theme song for the month of October!

Good Hunting!

yajeev said...

Thanks, TBone...

I actually just heard this song about a week ago.

I dig.

sstc said...

I have some game pieces, maybe with pieces from another state we can increase the odds?