If you guys have heard at least one of our shows, then you know that the Ocean’s movies—as in, Oceans 11, Oceans 12, and Oceans 13—have become a permanent fixture in our vernacular. We probably haven’t gone one show without quoting at least one Oceans' line. In many ways, just as Rusty, Danny, Linus, Ruben, Basher and the others all have their own criminal world language that we often don’t really understand, the same can be said of us in this regard. I know Uno and I are the biggest offenders of this. From “Peligro es mi nombre medio” to “Oh let the sun beat down upon my face... I am a traveler of both time and space…”, we volley these phrases back and forth and can immediately know what the other means with each quote. And, even though The Beta Report is split on which of the two sequels—Oceans 12 or 13—is better, we can all agree that all three of these movies are great. But, if you want to make your voice heard on the matter, head over to our Facebook page to vote on our poll for which one you like the best. To make this choice even easier, if you guys listened to our latest episode, you know that we can now enjoy all these movies on Netflix. They’re all available to stream and we can now settle this debate once and for all!

But, as I tossed some ideas around in my head for today’s blog and the Oceans movies kept creeping back into my head, I started to wonder why I loved these movies so much. Was it the excellent writing? Sure, this movie has some of the best dialogue and character interactions in any film. But, that’s not it. Was it the actors/actresses? Yeah. I don’t think these characters could have been as great as they are without all of the talented people involved. But, that doesn’t really feel right. No, I think, the reason why I love these movies so much is because I can relate to them. I was a master thief just like these guys in this movie. And, at the time, I didn’t know I was in my own version of these films. I didn’t know that I’d be pulling one of the most lucrative jobs any little boy could have ever pulled. It was a  little job I’d now call: Oceans Pre-Teen.

A Master Thief's Beginning

It was 1994 and my little ten year old body was preparing itself for the party of the year. See, little Hugo’s family (names changed to protect people’s identity, and because I think it’s funny) was rich—by Cudahy, CA standards of course—which meant this Chuck E. Cheese was about to be on and popping. His parents were going to pay for all the pizza and drinks, so we’d all be functioning on gallons of Hi-C Fruit Punch and getting lit in the ball pit. This was back when parents didn’t care about germs, gluten, or any of the hypoallergenic concerns we have now. On top of all that, we would be getting at least ten tokens each. This was the party of the decade! But not to my boy, Pep. Pep was that kid whose parents couldn’t believe was bad, but was really the worst. He was the loose cannon of the group and I was lucky enough to be his friend. So, when he thought ten tokens wouldn’t be enough to have a really good time, what happened next would go down in Chuck E. Cheese party history forever.

The Heist Is On

Careful planning had to be done for this job. First Step: Motive. “Ten Tokens? What can we really do with only ten tokens?” The ten year old logic was solid. In reality, we could have done a lot with just ten tokens plus the extra money we got from our parents, but, our pre-pubescent greed was overwhelming.

Second Step: Reconnaissance. He knew that his parents didn’t have time to buy a gift because they had just walked out of the local Tianguis Supermarket, bought a card and got two $20 bills and one $10 bill. They stuffed it in the envelope and didn’t even seal it before handing it to Pep to give to little Hugo. They told him they’d be back in a few hours to pick him up. Then, they vanished. And there we were. Two boys, one unsealed card, and $50.00 no one really knew existed aside from us…we never really had a choice.

Third Step: The Heist. So, Pep did what only Pep could do, he opened the envelope, took out the card and like the sea’s parting for Moses, a light flooded onto the dull-green bills as they gently drifted and finally nestled down onto each side of the card. It was glorious and it was ours, all ours. He grabbed the bills, fit the card back in the envelope, licked and sealed it, and then we split up. I would go and drop the card off with my gift so that it would look like they were both part of one gift. I placed it behind everyone else’s gift so that by the time the sugar rush crash and Hi-C hangovers began to set it, it would just get lost in the shuffle and no one would think anything of it. Pep would then head over to the furthest token dispenser and start working cashing in the bills. When we parted ways, our fates were sealed; we had just pulled off the greatest Chuck E. Cheese Birthday Heist ever.

Fourth Step: The Cash-in. “Accepts: $1, $5, $10, $20…” Legend had it: no one had ever put the maximum allowable dollar amount into a token dispensing machine. I walked up to Pep after dropping the gift off. The first part of our plan was a success. But now, Pep wasn’t afraid, just a little hesitant. The sweat beads began to build on his chubby little nose. This was be the point of no return. As we looked at the token dispenser, we knew we were no longer expert thieves. Instead, we were now technological explorers, archeologists, pioneers. We were like Indiana Jones trying to figure out an old primitive booby trap. We carefully walked towards the token dispenser. He wiped the sweat from his nose and pushed the first $20.00 bill through. The dispenser rattled and shook. Had we just opened an ancient vault door that housed all of Chuckey’s tokens? Was this the door to a secret underground level that only high rolling adults could go to? Suddenly, like a siren alerting everyone of what we had just discovered, a flood of golden tokens began to spill out of the dispenser’s small metal cup. Panic began to set in as the coins like tiny metallic rain drops continued to ping, pang, and ring as they overflowed and cascaded onto the ground. I scrambled, but Pep held his cool. He plopped down on the ground and started to pick up all the tokens and shoved them in his short’s pockets. I did the same, hurriedly cramming handfuls of tokens in my blue “Little Slugger” outfit shorts. The weight of one bill, one haul, one set of tokens was too much for our little swap meet matching outfits. The elastic in the band at our waists couldn’t take another $30.00 worth of tokens. We had to think fast.

Fifth/Final Step: The Exit. There we were, two kids with more tokens than we’ve ever had in our ten year old lives. It was glorious. The coins shimmered in our tiny hands despite their actual dirty, gunky, and sugar caked condition. Greed is a terrible beast and, our mouths were truly bigger than our stomachs.

“Let’s do it all!” we said.

“But how should we carry all of them?” I asked Pep.

“Easy.” He said without hesitation as he shoved another bill into the machine. As the coins began to pour out of the machine with the same alerting fervor, Pep calmly lifted his leg up to about his knee and pulled off his shoe.

“What? Really?” I asked bewildered.

“Take the $10.00 and go to another machine. I’ll meet you over there.” Pep’s voice was heavy with undeterred poise. He spoke coolly and confident. He was like a boy who had seen things. A boy who had lived a full life before this moment and spent those years pulling similar heists as this. I followed complacently and walked towards the other machine on the other side of the entrance doors. I took a few steps, all while holding up my blue pinstriped shorts, which were still being weighed down by the first bill’s haul.

“Oh, and take this…” just then I felt a heavy rubber sole kick me in my chest. My fingers firmly grasped the shoe. I could feel the warm residual moisture of his sweaty feet as I pressed down to hold onto the shoe. “Just put all of the tokens in there. I’ll meet you there.”

So, I took his shoe, walked to the dispenser, put all of the coins in my pockets into it, then slid the $10.00 bill against my shorts to iron out the wrinkles and folded edges, shoved it into the dispenser, rang the showering coin alarm again, and finally, started to put all of the coins from the dispenser into the shoe. I glanced over at Pep, his chunky little feet now barefoot on the gum riddled floor of the Chuck E. Cheese squirmed with nervous excitement as he filled the rest of his shoe with the tokens he had just acquired. As I put the last coin into the shoe, Pep was unevenly standing next to me. The tokened foot gave him what seemed like a 5 foot boost. He was a towering giant of token totting tom-foolery. I handed him back his shoe. He looked down on me from his lofty perch and patted me on the back. With his patented charming grin he said:

“You wear it. Let’s switch one of our shoes.”

And, from that moment on, we towered over the sprawling pizza and Hi-C flowing paradise and we lived as kings for the next few hours.

A Master Thief's End

No one ever questioned us about the money, all the tokens we had, or why we were wearing each other’s shoes. All I know is that we had gotten away with the biggest heist any 10 year old had ever pulled. We had gotten away with not just the birthday money, the tokens, but also the extra cash our parents gave us. We would be buying chips and playing arcade games at our local liquor store for the next month with that money. We always looked back at that moment as one of the highlights of our childhood. We never attempted another heist of this magnitude again. We knew not to tempt fate a second time. And, we wouldn’t have to. The legend of Oceans Pre-Teen will live on forever.

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