By Tim Hayes

In the silly, funny, harmless, but otherwise forgettable 2001 Disney film, “Max Keeble’s Big Move,” the school bully, Troy McGinty, is regularly – and hilariously – laid low, quivering in fear and tears, at the sight of a TV-character frog named “McGoogle.”

Don’t ask.

When he’s not throwing smaller kids into lockers, threatening to pound them into dust after school, or otherwise being an obnoxious jerk, Troy McGinty lives in secret terror of this ridiculous green-felt frog wearing a kilt and plaid tam o’shanter.

Of course, one of Troy McGinty’s favorite victims, Max Keeble, has discovered this Achilles’ heel and by the end of the film has brought his tormentor to his knees in sweet middle-school revenge by dressing up as “McGoogle” himself.

I know. A tad disconcerting how much I remember from seeing this movie almost 20 years ago with my kids. But there’s a reason for rousing these long-dormant scenes from the musty closets of my brain.

We all have our own McGoogles.

Admit it, certain scenes or scents or tasks or people or memories cut through the facades we like to erect, smashing our carefully curated reputations to pieces, ripping the covers off and piercing straight through to our innermost fears. Those places inside we never want to, and pray we never have to, face.

Mine is the magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, machine.

Many years ago, I was told I needed to have an MRI exam done. I’d be inside the whirring, clanging metal tube for about 30 minutes, they said. It’s no big deal, they said. Most people just close their eyes and many even fall asleep, it’s so relaxing, they said.


No, this thing looks like a coffin, I said (to myself). I’m going to be buried alive for 30 minutes, I said (to myself). This is my McGoogle, I said (to myself).

But this episode happened before I turned 50, the point in my life when I decided that I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do ever again. Back then, I still believed I could – no, I had to – master my fears and macho this thing to the end. So in I climbed.

As the platform on which I rested started moving into the gigantic circular tube of the MRI machine, I could feel the adrenaline start coursing, my breathing getting more shallow, my eyes darting back and forth. Keep it together, you big wuss. You can do this. You can do this.

Once fully inside, though, with the curved wall inches from my face above me, the dam broke. The wire snapped. The beast got released. And I started going nuts.

“Get me out of this damn thing! I’ll break this machine right now! Pull me out! Pull me out! Get me out – NOW!” I screamed, thrashing around, out of control. I seriously, truthfully, completely thought I would lose my mind in there.

You’d better believe they pulled me out within seconds, I got dressed in record time, ran out of that place, and was discovered in the wide open outside, filling my lungs, gulping sweet air.

My wife knows now that, if at some far-off point in our old age I need to have an MRI done again, they had better use an “open” MRI model, and they had better anesthetize me – and I mean knock me out cold – beforehand. Or they’ll see how an old man can and WILL break the damn thing.

Wouldn’t it be nice to never have a McGoogle to worry about? Aw, you bet it would. But everybody’s got one. Some poor souls have more than one. I even heard a story this past week of somebody intimidated by a big old battleship with a certain name on it. Can you imagine?

The good news in “Max Keeble’s Big Move” comes when Troy McGinty the bully gets past his fear of McGoogle and repents, with the help of the school counselor. But let’s not forget, this all happened in a stupid made-up movie for kids.

The real world can be a lot scarier for a lot longer. Damn those McGoogles.

Copyright 2019 Timothy P. Hayes