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For the Ladies: Walk of Shame


So, um, last night was fun and all, but I really have to get going. Unfortunately, that means walking through campus in nothing more than a toga, some lingerie and stilettos (and we’re just talking about the guys!). Let our sex columnist tell you how you can avoid ‘The Walk.’

Walk of shame (noun): ‘The act of traversing a route back to one’s home after spending the night in a romantic partner’s bed, often in the same clothes from the evening before.’
Hmm ‘ that definition is a little dry. How about this one, courtesy of our friends at

Walk of shame (noun): ‘The effort of a woman leaving the home of a man (possibly one she met the night before) in the early-morning hours, hair sticking out in all directions, makeup half gone, with her undies in a pocket of her purse ‘ looking trashy, romped and hung-over. Usually after a booty call.’

That sounds about right.

Going out, flirting with a hottie and then shacking up is a part of collegiate culture ‘ and, let’s face it, unless you plan on never leaving his (or her) bed, odds are that one of you will be doing the walk of shame home.

To say I’m an expert in this walk would be an understatement. I’ve walked at 5 a.m., I’ve walked at noon, I’ve even walked at 4 p.m. (don’t ask). Name a time of day and I’ve trekked the long road, path or hallway back to my abode.

I should say I’ve found these walks humiliating ‘ but that’s just not the case. Sure, there were a few I would take back ‘ trudging home in a torrential rainstorm, sans umbrella and sans bra, wasn’t one of my favorite moments. Any walk that involved formal wear, stilettos, a wicked hangover and two feet of snow was just miserable. And I’ve had my How-could-I-not-realize-there-was-so-much-alcohol-in-that-jungle-juice-and-what-was-I-THINKING-with-this-guy? mornings.

At least I was never offered ‘Walk of Shame Waffles,’ like the students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, offered ‘all the girls in miniskirts and heels’ the morning after the first weekend of the new quarter ‘ a huge party night. ‘That was f-ing awesome,’ a senior told me. Great. Is that a syrup stain or ‘ eh, never mind.

And I was never serenaded with the ‘Walk of Shame’ song, done to Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sounds of Silence.’ True story! A friend at school experienced this musical travesty when she made the mistake of leaving her hook-up’s dorm room in a nightgown at 6 a.m., just as the crew team was heading to practice. ‘They thought it would be hilarious,’ she says.

My intra-dorm excursions didn’t go too badly ‘ but I got lucky. Don’t be na’ve enough to think that hooking up with someone in your dorm eliminates The Walk. Oh, no. It may make the experience quicker, but it’s rife with danger ‘ as anyone who’s ever skulked down a freshman hall dorm at 11 a.m. on a Saturday knows, the gauntlet of people you ‘know’ can be far worse than encountering random kids.

Why is the Walk of Shame so shameful? Other than the fact you look like crap, is there anything inherently outrageous about it anymore?

‘Well,’ says my friend Kimberly, a recent grad. ‘You can’t feel shame if it’s something you would feel doing sober and responsible. Unless you’re in the sex industry and reputation doesn’t matter, avoid the walk.’

The guys I spoke with certainly didn’t seem worried. According to Andrew, a recent Notre Dame grad, frat brothers of his would call it the ‘Walk of Fame.’ They loved strutting by the campus church as everyone was entering for Sunday services.

Mike, a Georgetown senior, says his roommate calls it the ‘Stride of Pride,’ and he’s not against it. ‘I once took the bus home from my girlfriend’s house, all the way back to Georgetown at 10 a.m. … in a tuxedo from the night before. It was pretty obvious.’

But it’s usually much more difficult to spot a guy making the post-nookie trip. ‘Guys can wear the same clothes out, night and day,’ says Brett, a senior at University of California, Santa Barbara. ‘Girls in short skirts, heels or with their hair quasi-done stick out.’ There is an exception:

‘Theme parties,’ says Brett. ‘Then no one is safe.’

The best walk stories may become campus legend, as Ohio State columnist Rebecca Miller proved by holding the First Annual Walk of Shame Awards this year. Among the winners? ‘A girl leaving the Holiday Inn, bra in hand, with her shirt on inside-out and backwards.’ ‘Man in flowered bedsheet Toga.’ ‘Girl in muddy bikini.’ ‘Shirtless guy in grass skirt.’ My favorite? ‘Stiletto-wearing girl skulking down Summit Street in vintage lingerie.’

Veteran walkers recommend everything from bringing a mini-alarm clock if you go clubbing to owning a hot tub (you’d obviously be crashing at your house. Very clever!)
If you can’t avoid it, work it like my friend Pablo. ‘The risk of running into a previous hook-up or, even worse, your macro or English teacher, is too high. Cover your tracks,’ he says. ‘Disguise yourself. Wet your hair as if you just took a shower: ‘I’m waking up early to go to church.”

That’s right: You’re waking up to go to church ‘ in a toga. Wouldn’t mom and dad be proud?

  • COED Writer