oceans 11

At the end of the one of those Ocean’s 11 remakes, George Clooney and Brad Pitt speak to each other and their crew through hidden microphones with offhand, sexy familiarity, and then make everything go beserk in a Vegas casino. In the mayhem (an earthquake? caused by their crew?), the tables turn, and everyone in the casino starts killing the house. The movie shows this by floating sums across the screen, superimposed over the chaos. Those sums, won by the beautiful, non-greedy, politely panicking patrons, float down the screen a bit like this:

$617,000

$144,000

$39,000

$590,000

$328,00

That’s why George and Brad are the good guys: because they share— with us. It’s why Marky Mark’s character in The Italian Job is a good guy: he hires a mechanic for a set fee, but the beefcake (“Wrench”) figures out there’s a big play afoot, and says: “I want in.” So Marky Mark sizes him up and says, “Okay—you’re in.” Then they outsmart the bad guys together and divvy up lots of millions of dollars.

I have always acted as if money would— or maybe should— just rain down on me like that, dislodged by the handsome good guys from the bad guys. Or that just by saying I’m in I should be able to lift a beer with my boys in celebration of our deeply moral, deeply lucrative heist. But reality has made my imagination monstrous: I can become so engrossed in the post-killing details of my plan to pay off the mortgage, the car, and all of our credit cards— doing jaunty arithmetic in my head, remembering the days it will take various transfers to clear and show up on other accounts, estimating Gwendolyn’s debts that I will pay off too— that I am actually confused when I lift my head and look around. Where the fuck am I? I think, for a second.

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