Sept. 18, 2008 -- [DISCLAIMER: Despite the text of the below narrative, the tone hopefully makes it obvious that everything that follows was in jest and was met with laughter by all. A lot of laughter.]
When Cleo bought Chris Cuomo and Sam Champion a monopoly board, everyone expected a little light-hearted fun when a game broke out in the antique Warrior Ridge car between Chris, Sam, and producers Cleo and Kendall.
I don't think anyone realized just how far and quickly the game would degenerate from light-hearted fun to "You will never get this property, you understand this? Never, ever. You will die old and poor!"
It all started when Chris suggested a simple rule: Any negotiation is on the table as long as the dice are in your hands. Or, in Chris' case, anyone else's hands.
The more small minded of us, like myself, assumed this just meant the players would negotiate the sale of property between each other for cash. Oh no, my friend. That was just the beginning.
Soon the game devolved into deals about property swapping, partial rent allowances, promises of future deals, bribery completely unrelated to the game ("You know, guest spots on 'GMA' are available for a price…"), three-way deals, crooked backroom deals and, finally, outright intimidation and violence. A combination of all of these tactics was not uncommon — especially from the self-named Cuomo Co.
If this were the 1920s Chicago, Babyface Chris would be the cigar chomping mob man in a pinstripe suit and bowler cap complete with pockets full of ill-gotten cash smiling just a bit too broadly.
Literally every other turn, he had a deal for someone, for something. Convincing the other player to go along meant, according to Cuomonomics, completely destroying their sense of self worth.
"This is all you have," Chris would begin in a typical diatribe. "Everything else you have is worthless. I hate to be harsh, but that's the truth. It hurts the reputation of Cuomo Co., but you need this. We at Cuomo Co. want to help you. You have nothing without this and you have no prospects. It is not that I need this from you, you need this from me. Look how nice that looks. Now look without it. This is your everything."
Monologues like this, as convincing and heart-breaking as they were, rarely succeeded in anything more than sending the other player down a long, lonely journey of introspection. The first successfully negotiated deal was settled not a minute earlier than an hour and a half into the game.
The first house was built, by Cuomo Co., at the two hour mark thanks to a shady deal with shyster Lana who suspiciously joined the game only quick enough to take some money and property from the bank and literally hand it over to Cuomo Co. for a twenty percent share in the company. The first, but far from last, formal accusations of cheating were leveled at this point.
Chris was, to his credit, never sorry.
"I own what I am," the tycoon told Kendall at one point. "You're in denial. I'm happy for you to make the deals you make, just don't think you get the right to be righteous. You eat just as much cheese as any other rat on the table."
But if Chris was the Tammany Hall of the Monopoly board, Sam was its Oliver Twist.
Perhaps the first mistake he made was early on in the game when he refused to negotiate with Cuomo Co. because he felt, with all accuracy, "insulted."
"No. No rent. I'm looking at you and I love you as a brother, but I'm paying no rent," Sam declared during an initial deal gone bad.
From there, poor luck took over.
"I've been to jail three times," he said dejectedly to himself. "I own three pieces of worthless property. I'm like a vagabond."
At the three hour mark, Sam was arrested for the fourth time and still no one but him had seen the inside of the fictional cells.
"I'm going down the tubes quickly. That's what jail will do to you," the repeat offender said.
For their part, Cleo and Kendall held their own against Cuomo Co. for a while, but – and you heard it here first – this is mainly due to a corrupt, off-the-books deal that was struck during the break to band together and take down the evil corporation.
Though the deal was kept a secret, they never bit their lips when voicing their opinion on the corrupt practices of Cuomo Co.
"I'm talking to the man right now. That's you," Kendall told Chris.
But even without knowing about the Cleo-Kendall alliance, Chris seized upon Kendall's hypocrisy.
"This is the fruit of the poison tree," he said when Kendall took money off the poor, unlucky ex-convict Sam Champion. "Where's your moral high ground now? Save it. She accepts the blood money and yet they will call Cuomo Co. corrupt?"
At the four-hour mark, when the game was forced to break up so people could go back to "work," Cuomo Co. was well in control of the game, the Cleo-Kendall partnership was wavering in the middle ground, and Sam was just doing his best to avoid incarceration.
"You're everything wrong with this country," Kendall told Chris angrily. She still holds a fairly obvious grudge.
"That's the American way, pal," Chris said simply while flipping through a pile of his money and looking over his empire of houses.
There were several notable quotations from this four hour game that simply could not be included in the narrative. However, it would be a tragedy to let them go unknown, so I've just listed them below.
Sam to Chris: "I didn't negotiate with you to be insulted."
Chris to Kendall: "I have a stack of money, you know what I'm saying? Money's no issue to me."
Sam to Himself: "I'm in jail for the fourth time."
Chris to Kendall about her treatment of Sam and Cleo: "You held her hostage. He's like a stooge."
Chris to Kendall: "Cuomo Co. gives people jobs, houses. Cuomo Co. made you. Without me, you have the inside of a donut. [Cleo starts slapping Chris]. No hitting! No hitting!"
Cleo to Chris: "That's blood money, so give it over."
Chris to Cleo: "Done, as in, your future."
Chris to Kendall: "You're a chock in the wheel of progress."
Chris to Everyone: "It's just a game you sick puppies."
Cleo to Chris: "We'll negotiate to the death."
Sam to Himself after landing on a railroad and having to pay rent for the umptienth time: "I will never go on the railroad again as long as I live."
Chris to Me: "Most of the things they've said about me, I know they mean."
Sam to Himself (notice a pattern?): "I'm just the poor working guy that's been in and out of jail a few times."
Cleo to Chris: "Take what you want. I can't sell my soul."
Chris to Cleo: "You don't exist to me. Honestly, you're like a bush right now."
Exchange between Chris and Sam while everyone's talking about the corruption of Cuomo Co.:
Sam – "I have not accepted blood money and I say it proudly!"
Chris – "This guy's been in jail! He's the landlord of a slum and he gets praised for this?!"
Chris to Everyone: "Why am I pushing deals? Because there's no action."
Chris to Cleo about a deal with Kendall: "If you mess with my deal with her at all, our deal goes away. This has wings. You shut your mouth."
Chris to Sam: "This is not go fish. This is not go fish."
Sam to Chris: "If you ever come to the poor side of town, buddy, you're paying up.