I was recently in California for a best friend’s wedding. She is the final woman in my college posse (a.k.a the WINOS), to
stop having sex get married, and we thought it would be fitting for the five of us to have a girls day together, going to the spa and chilling out before the big day arrived.
A couple of weeks before the wedding I was on the spa’s website to check out which overpriced facial or massage I’d be signing up for, and I happened upon something in the brochure called the “Kuyam Experience”. Anything that has a noun or verb followed by “experience” or “adventure” is usually something one should pay close attention to. I learned this the hard way years ago and yet.
I think to save space they were as vague in the description of Kuyam as they could possibly be. It said something about doing a Native American ritual and clay and steam and inhalation therapy were involved or something and you could do it alone or in a ‘private party’. It was $75/person, which was about 50% less expensive than anything else they had to offer, so I mean, clearly the WINOS needed to consider this. It was the only thing we could all do together. Now, we aren’t very touchy-feely, kissy- huggy, or grab-each-other’s-boobs-and-asses kind of bunch. We keep our hands to ourselves, our clothes on and we enjoy drinking a shit ton of wine together and laughing. Sometimes we discuss the sex we aren’t having since we bore our litters, but mostly we debate important things we’ve read in trade journals such as “Us Weekly” and “O”. So something so new-agey was a laugh-fest just waiting to happen. This experience would provide a host of future inside jokes and the timing couldn’t be better. Our friend was about to get
knocked up married — this would get rid of any edge she might be feeling. It would be like therapy. Fun therapy. I loved thinking about how great it would be. Almost as great as dressing my 13 month old like this for Halloween. (Note to reader: Halloween 2011 comes round only once. You can never get it back. And Mr. T pities the fool who waits till 2012.)
So anyway, I book the thing and we all fly to California for the wedding weekend and the first day is the big spa day. Over breakfast, we had a long debate about whether or not we’re all supposed to wear bathing suits to this thing or not and then someone joked that we might all have to get naked and rub clay on one another. Yeah, right. Like we’d spend the day before our friend gets married having a Native American orgy/porn sleep over party. That is the last thing that the Kuyam Experience is about. I mean, if that was what it was, wouldn’t consuming massive amounts of alcohol and peyote be part of it too?
I assured the group that was is not what Kuyam was, as if I had any idea what it actually was. A little voice in my gut screamed, “Shit – what if it is?!” If it were, which it is not, it would take our friendship to a level of excruciating awkwardness that we might never be able to overcome. Like when Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie kissed that one time. Ugh. That just sent shivers up my spine. I am so sorry to have to have had to bring that into your consciousness, but I’m telling you, it’s a worthy comparison.
So, I love the WINOS with all of my heart, but I like them fully clothed. I’ll be damned if I’m paying $75 to feel relaxed as my naked best friends rub fucking mud all over my pasty naked muffin top. I laughed then, because us all getting naked together in a room while we spread mud on ourselves is the most ridiculous thing that could happen to the WINOS. I mean, probably the Kuyam was something where we’ll probably be in…robes…and the clay is probably for us to put on…our faces…or something. I think we’re just supposed to sit there and meditate and listen to the Native American chanting. None of this weird naked group rubbing shit. That would be crazy.
So we check in to the spa and we didn’t need bathing suits – they give us those little wrappy things to put around yourself that cover your boobs and your ass. Which I take as a good sign. Things are on track. But a red flag shoots up when I notice that the other spa patrons in the locker room seem to be wandering around naked and carrying on their business like they weren’t. Here’s the thing: I like the spa as much as anyone, but I do not find it necessary to prance around the locker room completely naked, bending over to blow dry my hair as I start up a conversation with a random naked stranger vigorously rubbing her ass with lotion, and act as though we were both dressed and discussing the weather at the grocery store. Apparently in Ojai California, that is exactly what people think the spa is for. This is why I live in Chicago. We don’t play that way.
But whatever. I’m not in Chicago. I am relaxing at a spa in California. I decided to spend as little time as possible in the
nudist colony locker room and waited until they led the five of us up to our private Kuyam Experience. Now, here is the thing: where I am from, “private” means that just the group you signed up with will be present. I thought this was a pretty universal interpretation, but I clearly know nothing about California. Apparently, in California, a “private” Kuyam Experience means you, your friends and three other strange naked ladies you don’t know who appear to be close to million years old, and really creep you the fuck out. That was a little “cultural difference” that would have been nice to know when I thought this was a good idea.
The room was really a big sauna, so it was super hot in there. I wasn’t sure if it was the heat that made me want to pass out, or the random old naked chicks. We took the other five seats that were left and they provided us all with a small, cold face towel. I noticed that most of the WINOS immediately covered their faces. Probably to cover up their shock, terror and tears. Maybe I’m projecting. That is exactly what I had to do. I had unknowingly led our group to our first orgy and it was going to be with octogenarian strangers. Thank God we didn’t bring the camera.
So the Kuyam Experience begins. The spa lady tells us to relax and listen while she plays a recording of a Native American man talking so it seems all spiritual. He starts off by saying that “Kuyam is best done while naked….” and I’m like, “Really pervert? Shit. We’re on some amateur porn site right now, aren’t we? This is why it was so cheap. Mother fucker.” So now there is all this pressure to take off our spa wraps and get naked and my worst fears are all coming true.
I’m sure the WINOS look awesome naked, but I like my friends best when their cooches are tucked away out of my direct line of sight. So I began a silent prayer: “Dear God, please don’t make me look at my friends’ coochies. Amen.”
We’re then instructed to start rubbing the three colors of clay they gave us on every square inch of our naked selves. But as I’ve said, I am not getting naked. Even if I weren’t so immature about being naked with all my best friends, there were very practical reasons for my unwillingness to just throw off my wrap. I haven’t had a wax since before my first kid was born. It’s like giving somebody 5 minutes notice that they are supposed to host a garden party on wild prairie land. I hope that is all the explaining I need to do on this topic. So I vow to leave my wrap thing on and I’m trying to rub the shit all over like he is saying, but it’s hard to do with one hand trying to hold up my little wrappy thing so that my cooch is covered and no nip is hanging out.
While I’m struggling to maintain my dignity (and heterosexuality), one of the old ladies stands up and goes over to the other lady across from her who I then realize is not old. She is probably our age, but her hands and feet are all (congenitally?) deformed so this is not an easy task for her. I’m not going to lie, this also raises the weirdness factor. And then I realize this is a mother-daughter duo. SHUT. UP. I am trying not to watch this, but the naked mother and daughter are now standing up, rubbing each other with the clay and one of them has her ass in my friend’s face. And then she turns around and suddenly there are coochies at eye level. Somebody tipped them off about the Kuyam because they had fresh Brazilians. “Aww fuck. Seriously? Do I really have to watch these two baldies rub each other down?” No. I threw the towel over my face and tried to stay conscious so I wouldn’t drop my own wrap and scar my friends for life.
I closed my eyes and tried to focus on not hyperventilating. Well, and getting the fucking clay on my ass where it was supposed to go without getting naked because I wasn’t completely sure the mother / daughter duo wasn’t going to ask for my damn help. I was grateful that the other WINOS decided to fight the good fight and keep their hands and vaginas to themselves.
I’m not really sure what happened next. Maybe I did actually lose consciousness. Or maybe I had a psychotic break and now instead of having just one alter ego, I have another. I just don’t remember anything else until I heard the spa lady saying we could leave. But I had fucking dry clay all over my body, my wrap, my face towel. They told us there were showers in the next room. I scurried to get up and out of there. But they forgot to mention that you have to walk past a chamber where hoses come out of the walls and spray you the length of your body. You sort of have to be naked for this part. FUUUUUCK.
All of that work and it came down to this. You know what? Fuck it. I dropped the wrap, ran through the hoses and found a shower stall. The water was heavenly warm. I got the shit off of me. A robe was waiting for me outside. I snuggled into it, quickly left the shower room and tea and private balcony awaited. Minutes later, all eight of us lounged in our robes in the warm California air talking about “US Weekly” and “O” as if we hadn’t just lost our faith in God.
Maybe one day the WINOS will talk about Kuyam together again, but I think for now we’ll just leave that for our therapists.