How I used to love Monopoly. Playing it as a child in 1980s Wellington, it seemed to be made for the city. It was as if I was playing with, or against, Bob Jones. He was the little car, obviously.
What a disappointment, then, is this new Auckland edition of the game. Heaven help us if it is a true reflection of the city. It's an incoherent jumble. You wouldn't want to show it to visitors.
There's the obvious spelling embarrassment of the "Karanghape Road" label.
Then there's the absurdity of naming most of the squares for landmarks, rather than streets. In the Mayfair and Park Lane spots, for example, this version has the Harbour Bridge and the Sky Tower. The object of the game is to build houses and hotels on an observation tower and a truss motorway bridge. What kind of message does this send to children? The Parker Brothers must be spinning in their community chests.
But most of all, this Auckland Monopoly lark has nothing to say about the city today.
The Super City deserves better - an entertainment compendium that speaks to its concerns. And, as it happens, I've got just the thing.
In this topical new game, you get to be Auckland's most powerful politician, struggling to hang on to the mayoral chains, without losing the mayoral trousers. Monopoly? Pshaw. This is called Monogamy. The full Monogamy playing instructions run to several hundred pages. But here's the gist.
Object: Congratulations, you are the recently re-elected mayor of Auckland. In order to make it through the coming days, you will face a series of seven challenges that will test your character going forward.
Equipment: Included you will find mobile telephones, a wireless router, an inflatable orca, and several heavily discounted items from Bras N Things. Roll the fuzzy dice.
I. The Fishing Game. Catch the mechanical moving fish using the mayoral rod. This is not a euphemism. Beware the inflatable orca, a rare predatory mammal cum blogger that feasts on algae, excrement and the faded dreams of mermaids. It also displays a strange fixation with the mayoral rod. This is a euphemism. Tip: Don't touch the cabbage boat.
II. Rude-o. Use your skills of deduction to identify where in the Town Hall the bawdy villainy took place. Tip: According to the security guard it was Len Brown with the [redacted] in the Ngati Whatua Room.
III. Aches and bladders. Proceed through a burlesque gallery of famous figures. Bill Clinton. Boris Johnson. Anthony Weiner. Don Brash. Each is straining to tempt you with political philosophy, a codpiece and fishnet stockings.
IV. Venereal pursuit. Collect six coloured "wedges" to complete your "pie" by correctly answering questions in the following categories: current affairs; The Wire, series 3-5; cultural stereotyping; sexually transmitted diseases; online polls; and the "Tamaki mafia". Complete challenge by conducting an innocuous conversation with John Palino in a carpark.
V. Where in the world is Luigi Wewege? Log on to the Monogamy site and locate the whereabouts of a former mayoral candidate and his adviser. Create a meme by Photoshopping their faces into countless famous scenes and landscapes.
VI. Pin the tale on the John Key. Use the enclosed pieces to cobble together an elaborate yarn about Auckland National Party factionalism that makes Labour Party infighting look like entry-level pilates. In seven moves, link the scandal to the very top of government.
VII. Gabble. Select a handful of tiles, and arrange the letters into important concepts in municipal coverage - in mainstream media ("embroiled", "embattled" etc) and the blogs ("porn", "rooting").
How did you do? If you failed more than one of the above challenges, read this card. Sorry, friend, it's game over.
You run your tongue along the tarmac of Queen St one last time. Auckland waves farewell. Soon it will struggle to remember your name. You have become little more than a crumpled sheet of gossip in the prime minister's top drawer. You are nationalised, broken down for parts, and sold in a job lot on Trade Me with remaindered editions of Auckland Monopoly and Meridian Energy.
If you made it through successfully, however, congratulations. Things are looking up. You gaze out over Aotea Square. Order has been restored. Your in-tray once again bulges with spirited debate about street-sign colours and grass verges. The Unitary Plan is a hot favourite for the next Man Booker Prize. In fact, it is the only nomination. Because the entire population of the world has perished in a firestorm of lascivious self-loathing and sanctimonious jibber. You are the mayor of Auckland. You are the last human left alive. There is a knock on the door.