To quote my mother: “Monopoly tears families apart.”

This is fact.

Yet still, Sunday night witnessed a rebirth of the Rajala Family Game Night. We used to do this often as kids, perch ourselves around the kitchen table and play a good old family game. The fun was renowned, the fights… more so.

What could possibly have made Mum think that this time would be any different? The idea that now we were all reasonable, (apparently) emotionally stable adults?

No, no, no. That only made things worse. For one, my parents no longer feel guilt in cheating us, and two, we now have the power of logic and critical thinking on our sides.

Monopoly is a blood sport.

Someone always cheats.

And the banker always wins (it is the easiest for them to cheat, is it not?).

It’s just like real capitalism!

This time we made Ryan, my sister’s boyfriend, the banker, on the naive assumption that he’s more emotionally distant than the rest of us. Yet somehow, when all was said and done, it was him and Bri wiping the blood off their hands and counting out the money.

Good thing we were drinking.

With Monopoly and I, it has always been personal. So personal it’s emotionally devastating.

It all stems from one incident, deep in the recesses of my childhood. To understand this trauma, I need to explain something about my extended family: My mom and her family are English; the stock of South Yorkshire coal miners. We have issues. Everything that comes into conflict with us might as well have the face of Margaret Thatcher. The slightest disagreement is tantamount to war. But their war is personal. War is emotional. They play the propaganda machine well. They know their enemies. They know our weaknesses. They pounce swiftly and devastatingly.

I can’t even remember what I was doing with Marvin Gardens. Was I trying to buy it from the bank? Mortgage it? I have no idea.

I was all of eight? Seven, even? Old enough to play Monopoly, but not old enough to think that my grandfather would resort to emotional landmines in the pursuit of economic triumph.

“Marvin Gardens,” I said in my plucky Canadian accent.

“MaRVin GaRDens,” Grandpa mocked, stressed those grating hard Rs, “MaRVin GaRDens?! Say it again! Say it!” I was speechless, dying a little inside. “You can’t, can you? MaHVin GaHDens, not MaRVin GaRDens!”

He proceeded to insidiously mock my accent to the point where I wanted to cry, but all I could do was tremble and pass on the lemony yellow property.

I lost the game.

I’ve been a socialist ever since.