Celia Rivenbark

From the Belle Tower | Wonder website takes years off age

It took a few days to get up the nerve to try it, but I finally uploaded a brand new picture of myself to how-old.net, Microsoft’s fun new party game OR depressing numerical proof that you are old, depending on how your photo is rated by the quickie analysis.

The results are almost immediate and come in the too-cute form of a square with the exact age you look in your picture over your head. It’s like that old Nickelback video that showed how many more days people had to live over their heads in a countdown clock. Only scarier because, in real life, we can’t count on Nickelback to push us out of the way of a speeding bus. Or, in this case, unflattering wattle.

I was anxious, of course. Mostly because I put up a picture in full makeup with an hours-old blowout. I was putting my best, completely made-up face forward for this. The result was, well, gratifying. I was 49 to the world. That may sound old to some of you but, trust me, I was OVER THE FLIPPIN’ MOON. I pranced about, felt younger all day and even did a couple of fairly painful sit-ups to celebrate. Hahahahaha! Nine years, gone, like they never happened or left their mark. This is the greatest Microsoft tool since … OK, it’s the first one.

After a few hours of youthful giddiness, it occurred to me it would be fun to upload a picture of my 17-year-old daughter. If I was 49, maybe she would be 7. Oh, what a laugh we’d have over that! So I used her senior portrait, very nice. And guess what, y’all? The little square with a number on it showed up over her lovely head, and what did it say? You guessed it! 49.

Sooooo. There’s that. I don’t hardly know how to break the news to the Princess that she looks 49.

No, I know. Clearly there are some glitches to work out. My day went from sugar to poo in a matter of seconds, and I slunk back into my fat girl pants and felt a twinge from those two sit-ups. Is it possible to break your pancreas?

How-old.net may need some work (at least when judging the age of teenagers; I believe it’s remarkably accurate judging older women), but that doesn’t stop us from being obsessed with it. We can’t help ourselves.

It doesn’t help our self-image when Kate Middleton springs from her birthing bed and appears none the worse for wear just a few hours after delivery. Why, oh, why, couldn’t she have kept it real? Would it have killed Kate to wave to the crowd wearing a disheveled hospital gown, pregnancy acne and a stomach that looked like there was still a baby, maybe even two, still in there? That’s how the rest of us do childbirth.

No matter. One day, she’ll find herself spackling on Oil of Olay Regenerist. Like the rest of us 49-year-olds.

CELIA RIVENBARK is a New York Times best-selling author. Contact her at Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.