It all started a couple years ago with a French version of kids’ Monopoly that Chloe’s aunt sent for Christmas. My big girl mastered it in no time. While we don’t play it as much as we used to, she and I played the other day. I lost in record time.

We were at my mom’s again today to spend some more time with my visiting family, when Chloe found an adult Monopoly (it was actually a knock-off) in my mom’s closet that had never been opened. It was a New York City version of the game that we knew to be at least 7 years old, since one of the more expensive properties for sale was the World Trade Center.

She started to play with one of her older cousins. The cousin’s token was a legendary New York style pretzel, and Chloe’s was the Empire State Building. She quickly took to the complexities of the game, and was soon making deals to trade and buy my cousin’s cards in order to increase the number of her monopolies. When the two took a break about an hour later, I think my cousin had a bit more cash on hand than Chloe did, and it looked as if the game was at a standstill.

Enter cousin #2 to relieve cousin #1. He confidently claimed that he was hyper-competitive when it came to Monopoly, and gladly took over. Chloe didn’t know what she was getting into. Or did she? I went in to see her shortly after they resumed play, and the first thing I noticed was all the money she had in front of her. And all the deed cards. My hyper-competitive cousin (who will be graduating from an Ivy League law school in May) had about $20 left to his name.

He was a little sullen, and claimed the reason for his woeful state was that he had taken one too many risks. Sure, cousin. Rationalize all you want. But face it. While your 7-year old cousin’s gaming resembled the bold (and profitable) moves of Goldman Sachs during the ongoing subprime mortgage crisis, your own strategizing was more like Citigroup‘s recent performance – simply not a pretty sight to behold.

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