Life is a numbers game.

…and the fun begins with your age.

How old are you? “Eight and a half!” Remember? That half year or nine months or whatever meant everything. You were that much closer to being a grown up.

Next: Height. Door jambs bore the brunt of this particular data quest. The day I realized I was 5′3″ you could hear my cheer in two counties. But in what felt like a month, the number was back to 5′2″.

Then came weight. I didn’t know it at first, but the magic number would be weight for quite some time. Until the world stopped looking at me as sexually viable, which for me was around 45 or 50. (Your shelf life in the bangability department might last much longer.) Anyway, at that point, the world stopped caring so much.

Up ’til then, however, everybody felt entitled, even required, to express their opinion on this number—parents, friends, siblings, boyfriends—ev-er-y-body. To this day, I still fantasize about telling them all to go to hell. With some bonus advice about what they can do once they get there.

Next came SAT scores and IQ. I managed to wriggle out of the SAT, and not long after, concluded that—in a life defined by numbers that bring me discomfort—there was no need to add IQ to the mix. I suspected that no number under 160 would satisfy me, so not knowing would have to be better.

Then came class rank! In the last week of high school, someone from the office passed to each of us a little paper with that number scribbled on it. So furtive. (If only they had been as guarded in sixth grade when, after the annual doctor visit, Teacher read off everyone’s weight with their name. Out loud. Just…saying.)

Later came sexual history. When it comes to sexual partners, is there any number that will not cause some sort of discomfort? I’m thinking, only if you believe in waiting until marriage…and do the waiting. (And the marrying.) For the rest of us, let’s just skip that one.

Followed by salary. This number has been a source of exquisite disappointment for many years, and still isn’t one I share easily. On the rare occasions when I have exchanged salary information with a friend, it almost felt like we’d had sex.

Credit rating. Ouch. Awkward silence.

Cholesterol! Blood pressure! Triglycerides! Blood sugar! Number of times you exercise per week! Number of servings of fruits and vegetables a day! Number of drinks per week! “Real Age!” Oh and by the way, according to that real age questionnaire, I’ve been dead for two years.

Then there’s the number that is supposed to be Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Year of graduation. I think it’s actually illegal to ask job applicants for that number, yet ask for it they do! Call them on it and there goes that interview (cue flushing sound). Buh bye…we’ll call you.

And as if by magic (but we all know it’s only sleight of hand)…there we are, back to age.

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