Do Not Pass Go

“We should try a Žižek film one of these nights.”

“I’ve seen one,” said Samara, “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. It was very good. Saw it at Neil and Laura’s place.”

Neil and Laura live on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Samara has never visited them without me, yet I have no memory of the four of us sitting down to watch that film.

“You wouldn’t remember it” she said, “because I watched the film with Laura. You and Neil were playing Monopoly and screaming at each other because one of you was the shoe.”

“Oh,” I said.

I can’t say I cared for the breezy way she said “one of you was the shoe”.

Monopoly, for me, is no trivial game. It’s about long-term strategy, the tactical balancing of reason with lust, and the game’s inherent satire of the real-life capitalist system. The thrill of crushing your opponent’s stupid face into the dirt is pretty great too.

You don’t just win suddenly like in Hungry Hungry Hippos or Mr Pop. You torture your opponent over the space of about a fortnight.

If Neil and I had been “screaming at each other” it was certainly about something more complex and passionate than one of us being the shoe.

I imagine it was something to do with Neil not liking the taste of my dust.

“As a point of fact,” I said to Samara, “it was nothing to do with who was the shoe.”

“So it was about the dog then,” she said.

It occurred to me, horribly, that she was right. Neil and I had argued about who was going to be the dog.

Neil likes to be the dog because his surname is Scott and the dog token–a Scottie–matches his name.

But I also like to be the dog because it’s the only token that’s based on a living thing.

“No,” I lied.

“I see,” she said, “You completely missed that film–a quite sexy film, actually, in the company of your girlfriends in their pajamas–because of who got the Monopoly dog.”

The thing is, I just can’t empathise with a cannon or an iron. I just can’t care if a boat goes to jail.

I suppose being the car would at least make free parking more exciting. Otherwise you’re just a shoe in a car park. That’s no way to become a wealthy hotelier. Not even on Park Lane.

Obviously, if we’d been playing Star Wars Monopoly, none of this would have happened. In Star Wars Monopoly, I’m equally happy to be Chewie or R2 or Leia. (My mother always chose to be Vader, incidentally, which tells you all you need to know about life in our family).

“I just like the dog is all,” I said.

I couldn’t bring myself to add that our racket had also been about the hat.

Neil’s second choice of token is the top hat, but I like my dog to wear the top hat so I need both pieces.

A dog can’t go to town without his hat. I stand by that. There are more important things in life than sexy philosophy movies.

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