10/04/11 3:15pm
10/04/2011 3:15 PM

When I was a kid, returning to school in September was either welcome or fraught with a case of the jitters. There was, however, one thing I could make book on: I was invariably assigned to write an essay about what I did or learned during my summer vacation. I’m going to take a cue from the days of yore and tell you what I learned from our beautiful 14-year-old granddaughter, Ariana.

When Ariana visited us in July, she brought not only her bubbly personality, but also an array of pencils, tubs, tubes and other mysterious makeup paraphernalia. (I guess it runs in the family. I’ve been known to lug around an arsenal of anti-aging products while vacationing.)

One afternoon, I sat on the bed and watched as Ariana applied goop to her face and made up her eyes. Lord knows how, but she came off looking completely natural. When I asked Ariana how my makeup looked, she scrutinized my face (a gal of a certain age gets uncomfortable with close-up inspections) and said, “Pretty good, but …”

“But?”

Ariana picked up a brush and began dabbing here and there.

She held up a mirror and asked, “Better?”

I answered with a delighted, “Yes.”

Our trip to the nail salon enlightened me further. I selected my usual sheer pink nail polish, while Ariana was deciding between neon blue and green sparkle. When she suggested I try one of the sparkle polishes, I considered it, but only briefly. I remembered that I was the assigned chalice administrator on Sunday, and green sparkle polish might be a tad distracting to the communicants. Ariana choose the blue and I must say, it looked lovely — on her, that is.

Shopping at Tanger was a mind-boggling experience. We bypassed my favorite haunts and headed straight into the teen clothing stores. Sales associates who looked to be in their ‘tweens showed Ariana the latest fashions. Music was blaring, kids were swarming and the moms looked weary. Oy!

Ariana taught me the nuances of texting. Now I love texting almost as much as talking. But the most fascinating experience, by far, was my Facebook makeover.

I have a lukewarm relationship with Facebook. I keep an account to stay abreast of the local, national and global news, and that’s about it. I find it scary that folks can reshape themselves in the hope of being friended by other users and, similarly, with a mere click we can unfriend someone.

That being said, on the last afternoon of her stay, Ariana showed me how she could alter her Face­book profile picture using Photoshop.

Ariana asked, “Want me to airbrush your picture?”

“Sure.”

I looked over her shoulder and wow! There was a smiling me, looking five years younger. Encouraged, I said, “Ariana, do more.”

“OK, watch this.”

She set to work, and magically erased 10, then 20 years from my picture. Talk about reversing the signs of aging! Meanwhile, Frank, with keys in hand, was waiting to drive Ariana home. I forgot about the picture until …

I started receiving comments about my profile picture. I logged in to Facebook and, sure enough, there, on my profile page, was my retouched picture. One Facebook friend commented, “Ceil, Long Island agrees with you; you’re looking younger.”

I often wonder about the forever-young Hollywood crowd featured in those glossy magazines. I realize they probably look ordinary — wrinkles, bulges and all — until they are airbrushed to the max. Mystery solved.
Well, folks, I’m Facebook challenged and clueless on how to get my original picture back on my profile page. I’ll figure it out eventually, or send Ariana an SOS. For now, I’ll let my picture stand.

The fact that I’m lying to the Facebook community, and myself, is a tad disconcerting, but what the heck. If the Hollywood crowd can get away with it, why not the Riverhead crowd?

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.