I’ve recently started playing the classic board game Monopoly again. I was struck by an idea: The Monopoly board is a fitting metaphor for my time here at Santa Barbara. There are four sides on the board, each corresponding to a different year spent here. From lowly Mediterranean Avenue to majestic Boardwalk, each property and square has its equal in the college life.
You start with Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues – humble beginnings for humble freshman. Get ready for dorms, community bathrooms and RAs. It’s not much, but, would you rather be living at home?
Only four squares in, you hit your first snag: a 15 percent income tax. This would be the freshman fifteen. Unlimited amounts of dining hall food and alcohol have caused your waistline to swell, and the only solution to get your lump-of-coal ass to the gym is peer pressure intense enough to form diamonds.
Reading Railroad is easy enough – your first bike. You haven’t ridden one since you were six, but now it’s your primary method of transportation. You also haven’t crashed one since you were six, but that’s about to change.
Now you’re on the light blues – Oriental, Vermont and Connecticut Avenues. These are the quality freshman digs: Manzanita Village or maybe a remodeled FT.
Turning the corner, you’re in sophomore year. St. Charles Place, States and Virginia Avenues await, or, if you found a place early, St. James Place, Tennessee and New York Avenues. This is your first home of your own, certainly not the most quality real estate on the board, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
See how the Electric Company is sandwiched in there? That represents your first utility bill. I have yet to get through a year of college where some utility hasn’t been turned off at least once. While this doesn’t say much for me, it also doesn’t say much for Cox when they bombard me with letters that cost $20 in postage to collect a $15 bill.
Pennsylvania Railroad sits in the middle of your second year. What could this be? Why, your second bike of course, since the first was stolen while you were “just visiting” jail.
You’re halfway done and sitting at Free Parking. However, around here, parking is anything but free. Between omnipresent campus parking cops and the difficulty of finding a place to park in I.V., free parking is a myth – just like the rule that you put money in the middle of board to collect when you land on it.
Welcome to junior year – now you’re cooking with gas. You’ve got the reds: Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois Avenues; and the yellows: Marvin Gardens, Atlantic and Ventnor Avenues. These are getting to be respectable places to live. Slumlords know this; your rent has risen accordingly.
B&O Railroad represents a car – you’re still biking to class, but now you can get out of I.V. and make road trips to downtown SB and beyond.
Water Works is there to remind you of every clogged toilet and broken garbage disposal you’ve encountered, or caused, during college. If neither of these has happened to you, you’re lying.
You may think that after three years of college you’re just the cat’s pajamas, but wait – Go to Jail? That’s right; the IVFP is a necessary evil. Maybe you did something crazy and irresponsible: Drove a car with a BAC of .42, stabbed someone in a drunken fight or didn’t walk your bike through a crosswalk. However heinous your crime, you broke the law and it’s time to pay the piper. Unfortunately, in Santa Barbara County, just like in Monopoly, there are only two “Get Out of Jail Free” cards – and Michael Jackson has already used them both.
Finally, glorious senior year. We’re talking Pacific, North Carolina and Pennsylvania Avenues. We’re talking Park Place and Boardwalk. We’re talking primo housing – the ocean side of DP, Goleta, whatever. You’re at the top of your game; you deserve it.
Hopefully, you’ve finally turned 21 – Short Line Railroad is Bill’s Bus. You drink, Bill drives. Except for that one time that I drank, Bill drank, then Bill made me drive the bus home. What an asshole.
At the end, you’re right back where you started – except, instead of collecting $200 and going around again, you’re now playing the game of Life, but that’s a different story.
David Fuad is a senior law & society and psychology major.