Thanks for the Free Parking

Thanks for the Free Parking

I used to love Monopoly.

My sister Marla and I would play all day and half the night. We weren’t just addicts. Monopoly fiends, that’s what we were.

We fought over a lot of things, but we never fought over who would be banker, who would count out the money, who would put the game up, who would get the game out from under the bed. We were professionals.

I’m not sure that a $500 bill exists in real life, but if we had ever been asked to break one down, it wouldn’t have taken us 30 seconds to count it out — and to include bills from every denomination down to $1.

But we did have our little quirks. Marla, aka, “the Quitter” would get “tired” whenever it became apparent that she was going to get strummed.

Sharla, better known as “Aggravation,” had the irritating habit of buying just one property, and then she would refuse to trade or sell her worthless property so you could complete your set, even though it was a much, much better deal for her.

Not only that, we doing her a huge favor just by letting her play, the little baby. But would she listen to us? No.

Darla was too little. Unless she threatened to tell Mother that we wouldn’t let her play, and then she was “Tattletale.”

Of course, I, as the oldest, didn’t have a nickname. Well, not for a long, long time.

I dropped out of the Monopoly club when the words “Milton” and “Bradley” stirred interest only when it was the answer to the question such as “Who are those cute guys sitting in the Camaro at the Sonic?”

And so I left the world of empire building and bankruptcy to my little sisters.

Years went by. We went to college. We got married. We became friends.

We called each other constantly, wrote letters, spent the weekends shopping, staying up late, telling and retelling old stories, laughing…

Until the weekend we decided to play Monopoly.

Now, I’ll admit, I was probably a little emotional, no doubt due to the hormonal changes brought on by being pregnant for the first time. But ever since I left home, it was common knowledge that Marla had been “buddying up” with Sharla.

Of course, they denied it, but I knew it was true. We had gone shopping earlier in the day, and every time I saw something cute, I would say “Look at this (whatever)…” but when I looked up, they were always off somewhere else, looking at something else and leaving me out!

The nerve! As many hours as I had wasted on those ingrates, waiting on them because they were too little or too slow, or because they would tell on me if I didn’t, and they had the gall to run off and leave me?

Of course, I was much too gracious to point that out. (Actually, I did point it out, but they denied it like they always did, so a fat lot of good it did.)

But then came the Monopoly incident.

We were playing by our standard rules, which were the ones on the box with one exception —all money collected for fines went in the middle, and if you landed on “Free Parking” the money was yours.

So, we’re playing, Marla lands on one of my hotel-bearing properties, and before I could tell her how much rent she owed me, Sharla snatches up and throws the dice. Then Marla says that means she doesn’t owe me anything, because I didn’t say the words “You owe me” before Sharla threw the dice.

And then Sharla backs her up!

If that wasn’t “buddying up,” I don’t know what was.

But they both insisted that “everyone” knew the rule. Snatching dice. Saying “You owe me,” which they said like “Y’o me.”

I wasn’t going to say it. It was stupid.

“This isn’t a game of ‘Spoons’,” I insisted. “There isn’t any snatching in Monopoly. Y’all just made that up!”

Furthermore, I added, they had been buddying up all day, and this was all the proof I needed. They were in cahoots, making up stupid rules just to cheat a respected hotelier like me out of my hard-earned rent.

And then I started to cry.

I knew I was going to be somebody’s mother in a few months. I knew they were going to call me “Cry Baby” and I’d hear about this story for the rest of my life. I knew I was 27 years old. I didn’t care.

They were being mean.


Cherry Dump Cake


  • 1 large can crushed pineapple
  • 2 cups cherry pie filling
  • 1 white cake mix
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 stick melted butter


Spread pineapple in a large baking pan (ungreased). Spread pie filling over pineapple. Sprinkle cake mix over pie filling; sprinkle oats, and pecans over cake mix. Pour melted butter over the top. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.

If I were a mean sister, say, the kind that made up silly rules and made expectant mothers cry, I could say that even though one of my sisters put her name on this recipe in our family cookbook, I don’t think she ever made it in her life. I hope it turns out OK. But if it doesn’t, don’t blame me. I might cry.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.