An epic snowstorm hit us yesterday, Christmas Day, with the first flakes falling about the time I was barbecuing steaks for Christmas dinner. It's been snowing since yesterday afternoon and we have 8 or 10 inches of snow on the ground, making for an interesting trip for Brenton as he was trying to fly home to Virginia from Oregon. He flew out of Portland last night, made it to Chicago early this morning, then to Philadelphia later this morning, only to find out all the planes in the City of Brotherly Love were grounded today. So two people he was in line with at the airport trying to find flights to Richmond -- it wasn't going to happen until tomorrow -- talked him into renting a car to drive from Philly to Richmond. We rendezvoused with him in Richmond about 6:30 this evening and made it home safely through all the snow, praise God.
So we get home and are all gathered around talking and laughing and catching up. Then stories start spilling out and I have to say I'm amazed at what goes on in this house, right under my feet. It turns out that Ethan is an accomplished thief. You see, the kids play this elaborate game called "Town" which I've described before where all the kids have businesses and operate like a real-life city. Well, their cousin and my nephew Killian was in town this summer and playing the game and Ethan quickly marked him. Taylor was the banker and everyone had bank accounts, complete with fictitious names, pin numbers and a special identification word that was a particular Monopoly piece. Well, when Ethan saw Killian opening an account in line he jumped in behind him to see what information he could glean. He heard Killian receive the "name" on his account, so he had the first piece of information. Then he saw Killian put his pin number on a slip of paper in his coat pocket.
So he started visiting Killian's place of business, a gun shop, and during the course of his friendliness asked if he could buy Killian's coat. He caught Killian by surprise and he asked Ethan why he wanted his coat. Ethan told him that it looked so good on Killian he hoped maybe it would look good on him too. So Killian sold him his coat and voila, Ethan had the second piece of information. Ethan sauntered over to the bank, but not before finding out from Killian his secret Monopoly piece (the boat) and how much money he had in the bank ($580). When Ethan got to the bank he said he needed to transfer $580 from an account into his account, provided the banker with all the necessary information and walked out $580 richer. But not before he rolled around on the floor laughing for a while. Later in the day, Taylor said, Killian walked in and wanted to withdraw $20 from his account. Taylor said Killian was quite surprised when he was told he had insufficient funds to receive $20.
So I'm wondering, do I ground Ethan for identity fraud, embezzlement, theft and assorted other charges in a game they were playing? These are big questions. Then I find out what happens when the kids do business with Ezra, who owns a store. The kids say they usually buy in bulk because when Ezra asks for money for the items purchased, his "customers" hold out money and hope he takes ones. Sometimes he takes the big bills, however. But Ethan said he likes to buy big items and give Ezra three one dollar bills. The thing is, Ezra always asks if his customer wants change back. "I always say, `Yes,' " Ethan said. "Sometimes something will cost $20, and rather than give him a 20 I give him three ones because Ezra thinks the three bills are more money than one bill, even if it's a 20. Then he gives me change back." As Ethan is telling this story I find myself laughing with the rest of the family. Then I find out the town had its own mob that had hired guns knocking off stores, there were hit men and assorted other criminal enterprises and I'm thinking, `What on earth is going on up there?' Until, music to my ears. MerriGrace became a cop, started flashing around a badge, writing up search warrants, confiscating guns, threatening jail time and basically cleaning up the town. Believe me when I say I'll sleep better tonight. Hopefully she locked up Ethan for a long time.