We’ve all suffered through these heartbreaking relationships. When you first meet your new partner, you’re so thrilled by their intelligence and versatility; you want your friends to meet them. But, of course, lugging your new computer to a party might be awkward.

So, instead, you enjoy the new computer’s features in the solitude of your cubicle, or the privacy of your home. Every morning, you can’t wait to flip it on. Then one of its features, like the DVD-Rom, stops functioning. The romance begins to sour. One morning, you turn it on and it’s acting sluggish and lethargic and you wonder if it’s something you did.

Or, was it something your children did? Did they load up the computer with every game and song they could find? This has happened to us several times. The hard drive is squeezed down to its last megabyte and the computer freezes up during the simplest tasks. Twice I’ve saved computers from these near death experiences by deleting programs, like a man tossing ballast from a hot air balloon.

Our relationship continued to deteriorate, though. One evening, I sat down to use the computer for the main purpose it was intended”to play a game. But when it connected to the Internet a virus scan program popped up. X-ing it out was like trying to kill a vampire. Then when the game started to load, another program tried to update itself. The computer froze, unable to do two things at the same time.

I frantically heaved programs overboard, hoping they weren’t important. Each time I was on the verge of having fun, though, some new popup would interfere. These infernal invaders caused my computer to “hourglass” for many minutes. The hourglass has been a terrifying symbol ever since we saw the sands of Dorothy’s life slipping away inside the witch’s castle. In the computer age, the hourglass is still a dreaded sign.

Just when the hourglass stopped and the game appeared, something popped up in the lower right corner of my screen. It asked me if I wanted to install a new program or push a button to “Continue what I was doing.”

How I wish we had this button in real life. Instead of watching railcars creep through a crossing, we could push, “Continue what I was doing.” It would come in handy in long lines at the post office, or when you accidentally answer a telemarketing call.

Pushing the “continue” button didn’t work, though. The machine I had once loved had turned against me.

So, I did the only logical thing and went to a Forest Park bar to listen to the Lemurs. I met a computer technician in the crowd who services my brand. He told me he could rid my computer of the dreaded pop-ups and perhaps save the relationship. Mark, if you’re reading this, we really need your help. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to continue what I was doing.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.