By Heather Mullinix
It's the end of an era. Monopoly has retired one of the eight original game pieces and added a new one.
Of the original pieces, I'd have to say the iron was my least favorite. I always called the shoe. If I wasn't fast enough, I'd take the dog or the top hat for a spin. I'm not wasting any tears on this retirement and kudos to Hasbro for working to keep the game of happy capitalism updated to attract a new generation of players.
The iron was replaced with a cat token after voters spoke on Facebook. I guess it's only fair since there's already a cute little puppy in the game, but I was pulling for the robot. It's the perfect addition for 2012 as technology continues to advance.
I'm sure the iron wasn't surprised with getting the boot. While the iron is flat and easily moved across the game board, it brought with it visions of slaving over an ironing board to get all those pesky wrinkles out of clothing. I don't believe in ironing. I keep one in my house for emergencies that can't be somewhat mitigated by a quick tumble in the dryer or a spritz of wrinkle release. Laundry is my least favorite chore and I certainly don't want to extend the work with ironing everything.
Monopoly has been around since 1935 and has included more than 20 tokens, including a lantern, a purse, an elephant and a horse. Based on Atlantic City, NJ, the game helped preserve the names of the real Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues in the 1970s, when public outcry put a stop to the commissioner of public works' plan.
I've many fond memories of playing Monopoly with my family or my sister and neighbors on rainy days that kept us cooped up indoors. Of course, a game of Monopoly isn't something you just fit in to the day. It must be planned and, if necessary, the schedule extended. If you're playing with Monopoly masters, you'd better plan on a multi-day experience.
Because of this, the game with its colorful money didn't exit the hall closet where the games were held all that often. A 12-year-old only has so much attention span. But it came in handy in a pinch — like during the Blizzard of 1993.
I'm sure many of us recall the more than a foot of snow that blanketed the area. Drifts were taller than me in some places. I remember spending a week in the house with my parents and my sister, with little contact with the outside world. We had no cable. There was no "on demand" movie rental and we must have watched the movies we'd rented prior to the snowpocalypse 30 times. My dad and I ventured out once, walking the mile and a half to my aunts to trade movie tapes. That round trip would have taken maybe an hour any other time. That trip took about two and a half hours.
The snow took a toll on the power lines, too, and we lost power for several hours. The family huddled around the wood stove in the den, lit some old lanterns and pulled out the Monopoly game to occupy our time until power was restored.
I suppose the game lasted four or five hours. Finally, my dad owned all but scattered bits of property and my sister and I found our bank accounts shrinking rapidly. I needed to roll a 10 to find safety at Go and collect my $200. I rolled a 9 and landed on Boardwalk with two hotels.
I don't recall what the rent was for that rolling mistake. I just know I couldn't cover it. I was out. Broke. Done.
Mandy hung on a few more rounds but she too fell to the Monopoly champ, my dad.
That's the last time I actually recall playing Monopoly, though I've tried my hand at some of the online and phone versions. It's just not very fun playing a computer. You just know the deck is stacked against you.
Now the game is getting a fresh face and a new token. I wonder if kids still sit around and play a board game. After more than 275 million games have been sold in 111 countries and 43 different languages, I'm sure America's no. 1 game will continue to adapt and change with the times. We've already got apps that let you challenge your friends and tokens have been taken to space.
Regardless of how you play it, or what token you choose, there's still something nostalgic and relaxing about sitting around a table with friends and family and trying to take all their pretty, fake money.
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Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published each Tuesday. She may be reached at email@example.com.