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The Jacksons, Feb. 23

Jennifer Jackson stared in silence at the computer screen in front of her, her index finger poised above the return key on the keyboard. Click. Click. Clickclickclickclickclickclick! Nothing.

“You got a problem?” Jennifer’s mother Rose peered at her over her reading glasses from across the table.

“The Internet connection is gone,” said Jennifer. “It just disappeared. In the middle of my homework assignment.”

Rose raised an eyebrow. “Looking at wedding dresses online is a homework assignment?” she said.

Jennifer shook her head distractedly. “Looking at wedding dresses while I do my homework is a coping mechanism to help me deal with the excruciating boredom of the homework assignment. As if anyone cares who won the battle of New Orleans.”

She clicked the key a few more times. “I don’t know how I’m going to cope without the Internet. How do I fix this?”

“I think you just have to bang on the keyboard,” said Rose. “As far as I know, all computer problems of any kind can be fixed by banging on the keyboard. Clicking the return key is a good start but you have to get more angry and aggressive. Give it a few good smacks. I’m sure you’ve seen Dad do it a hundred times.”

“You’re not helping, Mother,” said Jennifer. “I’m not about to get my computer-fixing skills from a man whose motto is ‘don’t force it, get a bigger hammer.’”

“Well then, there is only one other option that I can think of,” said Rose, “and that’s to reboot the computer. Whatever that means.”

“It means turn the computer off and then back on,” said Jennifer.

“We used to have to reboot the dryer all the time when it wouldn’t start,” said Rose. “But that was like, give it a good boot and if that didn’t work give it a reboot.”

“I’m pretty sure the dryer wasn’t connected to the Internet back then like it is today,” said Jennifer. “But rebooting is a good idea anyway.” She pushed the computer’s power button and held it briefly till the screen went black, then waited a few seconds to push the button again and then watched the screen flicker back to life.

“Aren’t you supposed to power it down properly?” said Rose. “You know, click on the restart button and whatnot?”

“Too much work,” said Jennifer. “It’s faster just to push the button.”

Rose shook her head. “How have we managed to raise a generation for whom clicking the restart icon is too much work?” she said. “It’s a metaphor for what’s wrong with our society.”

“What’s wrong with our society,” said Jennifer, “is that we can’t get a decent Internet connection so we can look at wedding dresses online when we’re doing our homework. It’s a threat to the whole institution of marriage, which is under enough pressure as it is.”

“Speaking of which,” said Rose, “I assume you’re looking at dresses for Amanda, not for yourself?”

“Duh,” said Jennifer. “I’m still in high school. I can’t get married for at least nine or 10 months. I mean first I have to graduate, then I have to find the right guy, then I have to propose…it’s a long process Mom.”

“So you’re saying Frederico’s not the right guy?” said Rose.

“Fernando,” said Jennifer. “His name is Fernando. I don’t know why you guys can’t get that right.”

“I’m just messing with you,” said Rose.

“And obviously he’s not the right guy,” said Jennifer. “He’s from Argentina and he’s going back there when school’s out and then we’ll file it under ‘fun while it lasted.’ Which incidentally, it is, in case you wanted to know.”

“Not really,” said Rose. “If it isn’t fun or if it’s too much fun I might want to know, but otherwise I prefer not to think about it.”

“That works for me,” said Jennifer. “Ignorance is bliss, right? In this case, for both of us.”

Rose frowned. “When you put it like that,” she said, “maybe I do want to know.”

Jennifer shook her head. “There’s nothing to know,” she said. “We’re just two well-behaved kids doing what we do best. Behaving well.”

“And I’m sure you would tell me if you weren’t,” said Rose.

“If I didn’t, your motherly intuition would,” said Jennifer. She brightened suddenly. “It’s back!” she said.

“What’s back?” said Rose.

“The Internet.” said Jennifer. “I just fixed the Internet.”

“Which may or may not be a good thing,” said Rose, “depending on what you plan to do with it.”

“I plan to finish my homework,” said Jennifer. “And while I’m at it, possibly save the institution of marriage.”

Rose smiled. “Good luck,” she said, “with both of those things.”

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