Saturday, July 23, 2011


340. As I miserably lose one game after another to Gaston, the Wii has long stopped being entertaining. "Maybe we could play something else? " I whine. "Something that I actually have a remote chance of beating you?" I add, a little too optimistically. "Like...?" Gaston, on the other hand, is doubtful. We both think about the question for a while. "Chess?" I jokingly suggest. "No way." "Scrabble?" "Sure, I used to play that with my parents, and my grandparents," he snickers. 
We finally settle on Monopoly, and while happy with the final choice, I cannot help but notice that, among all games available to us, it is the least skill-based.

As Tintin has left and Smurfette is sunbathing somewhere under the Thailand sky, there are only two of us at home. I have never been in a two-player Monopoly game before.
"Oh oh, I know, could we play with imaginary friends?" I am excited by my great idea.
"Imaginary friends?" Gaston raises eyebrows. "No." 
"Why not?" My idea suddenly does not seem so great anymore. "Didn't you have imaginary friends when growing up?" 
"What makes you think I don't have them now? My imaginary friends just don't come out when there is company."
While emphatically shooting down my first suggestion of inviting imaginary friends, Gaston agrees with my second: to add a rule to the game each time a player passes Go. 

These additional rules have started out innocent (naming twenty countries in one minute if you want to buy Mayfair! visit prison? do whatever the song currently being played on the background says!), and then incredibly money-oriented (get three times as much money when passing Go! land at Free Parking? receive a few free pieces of land!), most likely motivated by our cash quickly dwindling down. Less than an hour later, the rules have turned into a legitimate way for us to routinely pour shots for each other (land on Chance? a Baileys shot! land on Utilities? vodka!). When the clock shows seven and we have already had four shots each, it becomes clear that these later rules cannot, and probably should not, be properly upheld. So, when I land on Chance for the impossibly third time in almost as many rounds, Gaston, a policy officer by profession, has a plan. 
"Well, I can help you bend the rule. Give me two pieces of land, and we call it even." 
"Do you want to show up drunk at your close friend's birthday party?" Gaston asks, doing his best to appear fair and friendly. 
"Then give me two pieces of land."
I say goodbye to King's Cross and Piccadilly. 

Five minutes later, my mobile phone rings. A missed call from Christian. 
"I don't have any credit. Can I please call him back from your phone?" 
"Four pieces of land." 
"No. It's probably about Zoe's presents, so, really, the phone call will be for the common good." 
"OK. Two pieces of land."
"Do you want to find out what might be going wrong with your clooose friend's birthday presents or not?" Gaston tenderly caresses his mobile phone.
I bid farewell to Mayfair and Trafalgar Square.

Having to leave the game for the birthday party before either has gone bankrupt, we continue the trade negotiation well through the evening. If one drinks a shot more than the other, he or she gets four free pieces of land, yet another impromptu rule and one that results in us -- and, to be fair, several others who join in (the Baileys drinking, not the Baileys drinking game) -- quickly emptying Zoe's first Baileys bottle, necessitating her to take out another hitherto secretly stashed inside a kitchen drawer, much to our delight.

In the end, we never finished the game, which suited me fine because had we continued, I would likely have lost, after forced to hand over so many pieces of land. Of course, this means I did not win either, but Monopoly has never been so much fun. It's just a pity that none of my imaginary friends made it.

341. To be written by... (hurry up! :)

342. A 30th birthday, by Zoe. 

After weeks of questions in the line of "how many people will come to your party?", "will there be food?", "do you want a theme?" or "when are we planning the details?", the day of my 30th birthday party has finally arrived. Of course, as I hate planning ahead details, basically nothing has been done except for the guest list. Some people from home have safely arrived, ready to help me with whatever I wanted them to help me with... small problem... I have some ideas but nothing party worthy. Luckily my brother, with a number of years of experience ahead of me in the 'party without planning it in advance' business, is neither surprised nor put off by the fact and proposes numerous things which all turn out to be accomplishable between noon and 8pm.

Letting him take over the main course and focussing on the drinks and dessert myself leaves the decoration to my friends which produce an impressive amount of balloons to make the apartment very colorful for once!

My worries whether everybody would get along well vanish in thin air as one of my friends declares that the preparations constitute 'partying' already as the word means nothing more than enjoying the time with your new/old friends, having a laugh and maybe some food and obviously we have been doing that. Later this will serve as an excuse for her to disappear into bed well before the end of the party without letting anybody know.

Half an hour before the deadline everything in the food/drinks section is finished which leaves me just enough time to prepare my outfit for the night... thanks to my Bridget Jones pants I am willing to put on one of my very few dresses which is partially due to a friend telling me to do so many, many months ago. If I remember correctly it was more an order than anything else. How could I not follow this order, given that he could not make the long trip but however managed to send me a greeting not even his best friend would understand but I appreciated a lot.

Admirably, my brother calmly went about preparing fresh pizza bread for the first half of the party, while I was trying my best to get people drunk. Thanks to enough Caipirinha and a secret stash of Bailey's, the remainder of the evening remains slightly blurred in my memory... the fake gift being exchanged for a lovely real gift, old friends chatting away with new friends, silly games being played, food and drinks being appreciated... and of course, the last guest to arrive being also the last one to leave...

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