Hot Stewardess Elbow Envy Is a Real Thing: Getting Over FOMOOB

I was on my last flight home from BlogHer '14 when the stewardess, to whom I will refer as Hot Stewardess*, leaned lightly against me while she poured my diet coke. I noticed the texture of the skin on her arm and how soft her elbow looked, and I swear it was dusted with sun and fresh babies. I imagined that her elbow smelled of pears or freesias or whatever sugary nature sex scent is in right now.

This is my most recent photo of myself. I'm on the left, and glowy  Susan Goldberg  is on the right.

This is my most recent photo of myself. I'm on the left, and glowy Susan Goldberg is on the right.

I couldn't help but compare myself to Hot Stewardess' elbow. I had just spent the last 14 hours trying to look purposeful as I dragged my laptop and travel blanket and water bottle and antihistamines and whatnot through three different airports across three states after facing down a hectic 2000+ person conference attended by Arianna Huffington herself so that I could tell people why personal blogging is still a thing that not only will continue to happen but is also important. I had been under pressure and socially overwhelmed and deprived of sleep. I hadn't washed my face in 36 hours. 

(About that personal blogging thing: remind me to show you another picture of my cat. He's very important.)**

Each bathroom mirror I'd faced over the previous 14 hours had shown darker purple setting in under my eyes and deeper labial folds around my mouth and limper hair that sat like a bad hat. My eyebrows were staging a rebellion against all the carefully manicured pairs we had been confronted with over the last three days. If Hot Stewardess' elbow had an issue with death anxiety, my airport face was surely triggering it, because her youthful elbow, a veritable oasis of moisture and life force within the confines of that dry metal tube smothered with vinyl upholstery, was surely triggering me.

Her elbow was out-dewy-ing me, out-youth-ing me, out-vibrancy-ing me, and just downright out-sexy-ing me. It's not like Hot Stewardess and I were locked in any kind of competition 30,000 feet in the air, but it hit me that even if I could have myself buffed, polished, and moisturized using the Kardashians' private stash, I am still past being able to affect that supple glow, that charmed invitation of young flesh, the near pre-reproductive-nipple-like consistency of Hot Stewardess' elbow.

This is embedded floor art that looks like poop in a Denver International Airport bathroom.

This is embedded floor art that looks like poop in a Denver International Airport bathroom.

I had expected myself to feel like an even more terrible sack of poop after I noticed all the beauty jambed into that woman's single elbow, but this comparative realization ended up being freeing. I had never even approached her kind of sexy when I was in my 20s, nor did I want to at the time, and now that my flesh isn't even willing anymore, it's a relief to be able to sit back and just appreciate the very nippleness of her beautiful elbow. I am sure that she had seen at least 3,047 passengers before I came along whose eyes looked like the aftermath of a bare-knuckle boxing match, so I doubt her thoughts were "man, that lady looks so much shittier than my elbow." She was probably thinking something more along the lines of "I can't wait to start our descent, because pressurized plane farts are the best" or "if I didn't have Fred Flintstone feet, these pumps might not be starving my baby toes into purple nubbins."

As much as I have never honestly striven to look like the Dewy Sex Kitten that all the magazines promised I should and could become, I have always felt the pangs of FOMOOB, which is a lot like FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), but particular to beauty, Fear Of Missing Out On Beauty. I have always argued that the particular type of white beauty sold to us by the media is particularly focused on a kind that requires the most money to produce and not on the kind that necessarily ignites fire in tender loins or inspires sonnets or helps us find true love. Even as I argued, though, I measured how far my pores and hair and weight were from the common yardstick we'd all been given, and I felt tattered and overstuffed. I knew the yardstick was wrong, but it still pointed accusingly at me every day from television sets and computers and magazines and billboards.

At 41 and with 24-hour wrinkles and mostly grey hair, FOMOOB rises up in fewer situations than it used to. In my 20s, youth was the predictor of Dewy Sex Kitten possibility, so lack of dewy-sex-kitten-ness was a sign of personal failure. Now that my earliest adulthood is gone, though, and the predictors of Dewy Sex Kitten possibility have changed to a deep pocketbook and a team of notable dermatologists and plastic surgeons, neither of which I have, I can shrug off the lack of dewy-sex-kitten-ness. I'm less of a failure by failure and more of a failure by complete lack of interest. Plus, Dewy Sex Kitten at 41 only looks good until the product used to create it collects inside your wrinkles in bright, sparkly seams.

Hot Stewardess looked hot, and I liked looking at her. That was it and nothing more. Her beauty was suddenly simple to me instead of blossoming into another round of FOMOOB and regret.

So, in short:
FOMOOB - 0 / Elan - 1.

Would that I could have bypassed FOMOOB earlier in life, but ageing out of FOMOOB is still a pretty glorious thing.

* I realize that "Hot Stewardess" is not the most feminist thing to be calling the lovely human being who kept me hydrated and made my flight a more pleasant experience, but that's what my sleep-deprived brain called her at the time, and, to be fair, she was really hot. She had this long, strawberry blonde hair that actually cascaded, and her skirt, rather than looking like your run-of-the-mill, navy uniform, shaped itself around her butt like nobody's business. But I'm not helping my case here. I could have called her Great Stewardess or Kind Stewardess or even given her a real name like Gina, but what really made me notice her was that she was damn sexy, the kind of sexy that made everyone on the plane improve their posture and pretend they weren't married when she passed them a cup of water.

** Here is my important cat: