My beloved and trusted wife, who I lovingly call the Mama, had been a true grifter at heart all along. I caught her, not all the time, but I caught her; she was pretty sly with a wily sleight of hand.
Second to her was our youngest Bryce, and although she telegraphed every cheat she attempted, Bryce still attempted many nonetheless.
I must admit that I pulled off a few cheats myself, but it wasn't easy; I'm so used to following the traditional rules that go with the game. It takes a lot of energy to plan ahead to cheat, to execute the cheat, to not telegraph the cheat -- versus just playing the game as is should be played. I'm talking about Monopoly, the cheaters edition, something that Santa brought our family for Christmas last year.
Now, growing up, my sister and I used to play Monopoly and a related competitive game called Easy Money. According to Wikipedia, both were based on The Landlord's Game created by Elizabeth Magie in the United States in 1903 as a way to demonstrate that an economy which rewards wealth creation is better than one where monopolists work under few constraints, and to promote the economic theories of Henry George—in particular his ideas about taxation.
You know, where monopolists work under few constraints. What could go wrong, right?
Anyway, my sister and I always tried to pull fast ones on each other when we'd play. Her more than me, although she'd say me more than her. And we'd lose our patience with each other and the board would fly -- money, property titles, houses and hotels everywhere.
But damn, was it fun. Super fun. It still took a lot of energy for me to go all in for the big cheating, though.
However, in retrospect, the occasional little cheats and lies were always easier to pull off. And research from a few years ago tells us just that. Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, ran experiments with 30,000 people and found that very few people lie a lot, but almost everyone lies a little.
Everyone lies a little. So, what's the lesson here for our kids? Why are we playing a game that celebrates the breaking of rules, the law and shredding the fabric of truth and integrity?
Alas, because it's fun. Damn that cliché that being bad feels so good.
Except, the silver lining came from our oldest Beatrice, in the sweet salvation sound of four little words:
"Cheating is so hard."
Even when it's only a little bit. That's what I wanted to hear, my child. Amen.