There’s a good reason they call it the “walk of shame”. The entire experience is not only awkward, it’s also extremely unpleasant in most cases. From the moment you wake up and realize you have to complete this daunting task, you curse yourself for being so stupid. It really is a personal emotional roller coaster from start to finish. First you wake up and realize what you’ve done – you’re in someone else’s bed, after all – and then you descend into a series of unfortunate and unavoidable circumstances to get back home, taking your shame with you every step of the way. Here are the stages of the walk of shame you experience from the moment you wake up (and if you’re one of those amazing women who have mastered and totally own this, please let me know).
- Assessing your surroundings. That initial two seconds of realizing you’re not at home is especially exciting. You have that where-the-hell-am-I moment of absolute horror. But then you look over and see the person next to you and you’re like, “Oh, right… crap.”
- Locating your clothing. This is when you start to piece together the events of the night before. Did you leave a trail in the hallway? Is it just a mashed up pile on the floor or did you pull an OCD Danny Tanner and fold your clothing neatly and tuck it into a corner? How drunk were you?
- Feeling your hangover. As soon as you get up to find your clothes, you remember how you got yourself into this situation by the throbbing headache, and overall body suck-ness sensation. If the person in the bed hasn’t woken up yet, this is the likely time he will.
- Awkward conversation. Now that your 2 am decision is conscious again, you have to make awkward small talk, but you only engage because you kind of want clues as to what happened the previous night. I mean, outside of the obvious fact that you had a happy ending to your evening, you just want to know how sloppily drunk you were and an indication as to where you are so you can begin mapping your way home. You have several more thoughts in this conversation like, “Does he want me to get out immediately?” or “Should I ask for a coffee?”
- Using the restroom. Before you attempt retreat, you might need to use the kind stranger’s bathroom. This is where you legitimately analyze how long you can hold it and you factor in travel time, nearby coffee shops, and strategize how to make this process less awkward. Bonus points if it’s a tiny shoe-box apartment where everybody can hear everyone’s everything.
- Planning your transportation. Now that you know where you are, you’re dialing a cab, friend or mapping out the nearest bus that can take you home. And then unless you’re taking a bus, you wait… very awkwardly.
- Pure shame. If the previous encounters weren’t awkward enough, get ready, because this is where the shame part really begins. Now you get to encounter random passers-by on your journey. Complete strangers will see you looking a mess and you feel like there’s a blinking green sign over your head that says “JUST HAD SEX”, so you avoid eye contact with nearly every path you cross. If you take the bus, you sit in the furthest back corner you can find.
- Defeat and acceptance. You start to come to terms with the events of the previous night and you stop self-loathing a little bit. You’re just like, “Okay, whatever, I had a random night out… it’s totally not that big a deal…” and then you start to get excited about a greasy hangover breakfast.
- Sweet bliss. You’ve finally made it home and it’s never felt better! Complete relief soaks in. You take off your shoes, wash off your party makeup, and toss your shame-worn clothing into the laundry pile. You take a hot shower and wash the shame away and then call up some friends to tell them what a disaster you are and make plans for brunch. Congratulations, you made it through your walk of shame.