Monday, February 20, 2006

The Wonder of Monopoly

I notice that this blog entry has been viewed by various family members. It is composed based on not just my own thinking but also some general stories that are part of our family history; I wouldn't have come up with the matter about Donald and the money in the bank because I was too young to be so analytical, but am trusting what I was told. That was something of a family anecdote. I think it's funny. I'm not sure what my family thinks. Still, this particular event made an impact on me.
My family was always very competitive about the game of Monopoly. It was one sure way to find everyone with bright red cheeks and one or two people having stomped off into their rooms. My brother Donald had a trusty habit of accidentally dropping his Monopoly money into the bank. It was uncanny, but he almost invariably won. Now he's a realtor, and he's also, financially speaking, the richest person I know.
I say he almost invariably won, because when I was about 11, my brothers helped a Japanese man named Seijun Kamegawa by pushing his car into the driveway on a snowy day. He was, strangely, the first Christian I remember having met. Strange because Japanese-born Christians are rare; but he wasn't your typical Japanese person. His name Seijun, I've gathered, isn't a typical Japanese name; in addition, his hair was kinky, more like a Fiji-islander. He was the kind of person the average person would clean up his act for--sort of like a nun wandering into a Mafia poker game. We might be fighting like cats and dogs, but when Seijun came over for his fairly frequent, unexpected visits, we'd sweep the teeth and hanks of hair under the rug and, for the time being, pretend we were nice.
We decided we would teach Seijun the glories of Monopoly. He had never played before. Now when we played Monopoly, one of the highlights of the game was to land on someone's property (especially an expensive one) and get off again without paying rent. I don't know whether that's a universal behavior in this game, but it was the only way known to play in our home. But when we taught Seijun, somehow that behavior didn't take. We couldn't seem to make clear to him the necessity of that behavior. I guess it was just the language difference, though he spoke English well enough. When he landed on our properties, he always told us he was there in case we didn't notice. We knew he could not win that way--we were experienced, and Monopoly was a dog-eat-dog world. I know we explained it until we were out of breath. Still he did it this way and we couldn't change it. The funny thing was, he won in spite of all the odds against him. That was proof to me that though I wasn't sure there was a God at the time, whatever there was, was definitely on Seijun's side.
I've lost contact with Seijun. Last time I saw him was at my brother's wedding about 10 years back, and I don't think I got to talk to him. He's married now--I remember him wrestling with the idea of obeying his father, who wanted to arrange a marriage for him. I guess that obedient aspect of Christianity was impressed upon him more than that of being equally yoked. Finally he obeyed, and his father found him a nice, Japanese non-Christian wife. Life's had its challenges for Seijun since then, but I am convinced, thanks to that Monopoly game many years back, that God is still watching over him.

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