Did Mark just leave with that lady? She’s old enough to be his grandma. I see a walk of shame in his near future. Go ahead and settle in on your barstool as I summon up a few details about the walk of shame.
- Walk of What?
These days the walk of shame is defined as having to walk past a group of friends or strangers after a lapse in judgment from your very recent past. Some sports, like soccer, use the term to describe a player walking to the bench after a mistake or penalty, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
The walk of shame we’re talking about is when you show up to work wearing the same clothes from the previous day after letting all your coworkers know you were meeting an old crush at the bar after work. Or when you find yourself walking down an unfamiliar street, usually early on a Saturday or Sunday morning, with your hair all messed up and still wearing your bedraggled outfit from the night before. Struggling to find your way home and remain unnoticed. Or in our friend Mark’s case, getting a ride home from the either from his new senior “friend,” or a buddy he reluctantly calls to come pick him up. Whatever the circumstance, in most cases, the consumption of alcohol plays a decisive role in the walker’s predicament.
It’s probably safe to bet that a good portion of you reading this have witnessed someone trudging their way home after a similar sticky situation. If you haven’t, it’s okay. Either you’re just not looking, or you’ve not been looking in the right places. Downtown in the city, any college town, near a concert venue, or after a major sporting event, are all places with good odds of witnessing someone’s walk of shame. Or perhaps you’ve not seen it because it is you who usually walks the walk, you party animal.
- A Serious Past
Though it is easy to joke and poke fun at the notion of a walk of shame these days, during darker times in history it was no laughing matter. Back then, it was used as a form of punishment. Sometimes referred to as the walk of atonement, kings or royalty would have a man or woman accused of adultery, whoring, or some other sin stripped naked, shave off all their hair, and force them to parade through the city or town they were in. The intention was to humiliate that person, depleting them of their pride. In fact, the popular HBO series Game of Thrones recently produced an episode depicting such an act, giving its viewers intimate insight on the physical and psychological effects that this punishment can put on its victim.
- On a Lighter Note
Fortunately, for most people in most first world nations, we have the freedom to choose our partners and whether or not we want to keep them around until death do us part or just take them out for a test ride. This has not really been a pressing issue for men historically, but these days women rightfully no longer have to fear being stigmatized for, obviously consensually, engaging in one night stands with men they meet. As they shouldn’t. In fact, a growing number of women believe the term walk of shame no longer fits the mold. The stride of pride, trek of triumph, and single-lady strut are a few of the favorites I’ve read, but if we’re being real with ourselves it really should just be called, a walk home.
So maybe Mark’s walk of shame should be called the jaunt to flaunt or better yet vacate with a cupcake. For that, put his drinks on my tab. Thanks for reading, see you next week.