It's all fun and games until somebody loses a token. Then it's a new game — find a replacement token.
But how does one choose?
Like some sort of board game Sophie's Choice, the Hasbro makers of nostalgic favorite Monopoly are asking the public to choose which tiny, silver game piece should not pass go, not collect $200 and go straight to perpetual jail. In return, the game will introduce a replacement piece — a diamond ring, a robot, a cat, a guitar or a helicopter.
The competition on Facebook closes Feb. 5 and the token with the fewest votes will be shipped off to that great family game room in the sky.
The question then is which to forfeit from the original band of pieces: the shoe, the iron, the top hat, the thimble, the dog, the battleship, the wheelbarrow, the race car. But the appropriate answer is not universal. Nobody agrees which piece is expendable.
The thimble? The quilting fanatic in my social circle was horrified.
The shoe? A personal favorite although a stiletto is more up my alley now than old-fashioned boot-like footwear.
The Scottie dog? Rarely is the little fella the first go-to piece when setting up the game. Maybe it would fare better if it were a more popular breed. Labradoodle or Puggle, anyone?
The top hat? When the actual game mascot Rich Uncle Pennybags wears a top hat it feels a little wrong to forfeit the token. Next Hasbro will ask the public to do away with his cane and monocle.
The battleship or wheelbarrow? Meh. Neither make much of an impression.
The race car might give the user the impression he or she will race over to Boardwalk and Park Place that much more quickly but today's players likely prefer a Prius or — for those who actually are able to rack up money from hotels on the hot properties — a Hummer.
Best vote for elimination is probably the iron. Nobody likes the chore and much laundry doing has been shoved off to hand-held steamers, dry cleaners and a handy bottle of Downy wrinkle release spray. Besides, a token of manual labor doesn't really do much to inspire thoughts of grandeur and, for lack of a better term, monopolizing the bank. Perhaps that's why in 1988, after a similar public contest by Hasbro, voters chose a sack of money over runners-up biplane and piggy bank.
While I don't deny Hasbro the chance to spruce up a game pushing close to a century, changing a childhood classic is a bit sad. Anyone who has ever known the joy (or torture) of lengthy Monopoly games can relate. While the proposed tweak isn't as appalling as replacing the paper money in the bank with an ATM machine (no wonder the widespread level of financial illiteracy!) or seeing physical Words With Friends boards sold at toy stores (it's called Scrabble, people!), it still makes me wonder why they can't leave well enough alone. Didn't New Coke teach the marketers anything?
All that can be done now then is make sure the right piece gets the boot. Unfortunately, as of the Wednesday afternoon standings, that piece could very well be the boot. The wheelbarrow is scraping the bottom of the barrel with 6 percent of votes but the iron and shoe are not far behind. Each has a measly 7 percent of support while, incredulously, the dog is tops with 30 percent. Really?
If, like me, you disagree, get thee to an Internet connection and pick your favorite. In the game of Monopoly, you can't hesitate on a hot commodity.
Michelle Durand's column "Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.