It’s happened to all of us. Well, to those of us with two legs and a skirt far too short for a Sunday morning. We duck our heads to hide our faces and pretend there’s something fascinating written on our shoes (oh, so that’s where my English notes went). We hope we won’t see anyone we know. Mostly though, we wonder if we’ll ever see that bra again.
The morning (or early afternoon, if it’s been a particularly exhausting evening) phenomena known as the Walk of Shame is a rite of passage for many, generally female, college students. You haven’t lived until you’ve stumbled out of a room smelling of Axe, your eye makeup running everywhere (elbow? Check), wrapping your hair up in an elastic and praying your roommate will still be asleep when you get back to your room.
At Northwestern, the true Walk of Shame is an honor primarily reserved for the few, the proud, the partying girls of South Campus who must return home from the party labyrinth that is frat row, Bobb-McCulloch and Elder. I know you’re out there somewhere, possibly still passed out. For you ladies, there isn’t the luxury of being able to see your room from what’s-his-name’s window. You must brave the journey homeward on the familiar concrete squares of Sheridan Road.
The seemingly endless walk is best navigated with a coat, an iPod and enormous Nicole Richie sunglasses – no pictures, please. If you can’t see the rest of the world, they can’t see you. Just keep telling yourself that. Balaclavas aren’t a bad call either.
For the North Campus girls, there’s the Dash of Shame. Always done at a high velocity, and almost always back to Bobb, Sargent or Elder, this is the Walk on speed. Dashers can be identified by a lack of a coat since North Campus girls never bring coats to parties. Although the Dash has little of the stigma of the Walk, in some ways it’s just as shameful. A morning run from the frat quad to Bobb in heels isn’t less conspicuous than a slow saunter back to Hinman: There’s just a greater chance that you’ll trip and fall.
Either way, in a year at Northwestern I’ve witnessed a fair share of these walks. They happen to the best of us and although they aren’t necessarily our best moments, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. A lot of us have done it before and some of us haven’t learned enough to keep history from repeating itself. There’s no shame in enjoying yourself, but here’s a few tips to keep in mind to prevent your night of fun from becoming the next day’s campus gossip.
1. Call for backup. The best possible means of protection (not that kind, it’s too late for that now) is another human being, preferably a girl. Sadly, Double Walks (Walks of Shame taken together) don’t happen unless you had an incredibly scandalous night. And if that’s the case, let’s face it: The guy is going to tell all of his friends about it anyway. Call your North Campus friend and convince her that what she really needs right now is a trip down to Clarke’s for waffles. You’ll just have to stop on the way to change.
2. Beg and steal. Clothes, that is. If your friend is too hungover to brave the half-mile hike with you (and who could blame her?), don’t panic. Just because she won’t walk with you doesn’t mean she can’t help you out. Borrow her clothes. Take a pair of flip-flops, sweats, a t-shirt from her high school debate team, whatever. As long as it isn’t dirty, sweaty, crumpled or lace-trimmed, you’re golden. If for no other reason, this is why every girl should have at least one friend who wears the same dress size. You never know when getting in her pants might hide the fact that you’ve just been in someone else’s.
3. Don’t be the Playboy Bunny in Kellogg. For the love of God, avoid the costume party. Don’t get me wrong, those five-inch heels and cut-down-to-there top will undoubtedly be a hit at the Misogynist Guys and Slutty Girls party and there’s no crime in dressing the part. But it’s worth considering whether you want every Tech-bound engineer tomorrow to know exactly where you were last night. Enjoy the party, but don’t be that girl I saw outside Plex at 7 a.m. last October: high heels, smudged mascara and a slutty nurse costume that would make Christina Aguilera blush. Daddy’s tuition money hard at work.
4. Layer. This is obvious advice in the winter because only aliens or those three girls whose acceptance to Northwestern is still a mystery (you know who I’m talking about) wear less than six layers once Chicago winter hits. Winter parties are all about strategic layering: coat over cardigan over sparkly halter top, with a skirt over leggings. This ensemble sounds complicated but it’s the perfect solution: functional in the Arctic cold, but effective once you get inside and the extra fabric can come off. And for tomorrow’s walk, you just throw the jacket on, fix your hair and you could be anyone wearing anything underneath that coat. Now you understand why flashers dress this way.
5. Get out early. Once the joggers come out, it’s every woman (or man, I know you’ve been there too) for herself. Sure you’d rather be sleeping, but it’s easier to hide where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing when nobody sees you.
But the best thing to remember is that a Walk of Shame only exists if you let it. If you’re not ashamed, there’s no reason to pretend. Smile! You had fun last night, right? Don’t remember? That’s okay too. Think about where you were a year ago: sitting at home, filling out college applications and worrying about the “future.” All you have to worry about now is how much your roommate is going to laugh at you. Plus now you’ve got a great story to tell and hell, isn’t that what this college thing is all about anyway?