I started to take a "Real Age" Internet test, but I quit after aging several months during the registration process.

I started to take a "Real Age" Internet test, but I quit after aging several months during the registration process.

Apparently I've tried to take this test before, because I couldn't sign up without running into obstacles. My e-mail address is incorrect, a screen message told me (It is not, I thought; it's right there, I can see it and it is not) and if it's in fact correct (the message continued smoothly) then I must have forgotten my password.

The implication here, that I must be too old and too doddering to remember a simple thing like a password, is extremely annoying. Not that I've never been accused of this before.

You'd think I'd have gotten used to it by now, in fact. For a while I was making up new passwords every time I ordered something or signed on to something or joined something, and it goes without saying that I'd forget them the instant I signed off again.

When I'd return to the site -- and while I don't want to give ammunition, as it were, to the Real Age people, it's true that I don't often return briskly and purposefully to an electronic place; instead, I bonk into the site almost accidentally, the way a blind laboratory mouse will occasionally bump into his food tray -- anyway, when I'd return, I'd never remember my password. I'd try to guess it by typing in word and number combinations that seemed likely, but they'd never be right. "Sorry, your password is incorrect," I'd see over and over.

Finally, I'd agree to let the site send me my password via e-mail, only to change my mind at the last second. "Oh, to heck with it," I'd think, and return to the work I was supposed to be doing in the first place.

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "If you don't want to be treated like you're old and doddering, stop acting that way," but I'm not. I'm acting the way a person's supposed to act, according to Internet tip lists: Change your password often; don't use the same words again and again; pick words that won't be obvious to every rapscallion who comes down the superhighway.

So I do. I make up words; I make up phrases. I write them down, too, usually on sticky notes that I stick on my computer.

But of course I can never find those notes when I return to the sites. They've fallen off my computer, or I've used them to take a phone message or as a bookmark. If I do find one, it's the wrong password for the site I'm trying to enter. I should keep a little notebook or something, I know, but as I say, what I usually do is move on to something else.

That's what I did just now, when Real Age gave me a hard time: I moved on. Do I truly need to know my so-called Real Age? Would the answer advance my hopes and dreams and make me a happier, more confident person?

These are questions we must all ask ourselves in the age of computers and Internet and time-wasting on-line activities. (Gawker TV's actual motto is "Your work can wait," which may explain a lot about the gross national product.)

Besides, why bother taking some silly quiz to determine my quote real age unquote? Let's just say I'm 35.

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer.