Forget the Walk of Shame, take a Stride of Pride
This originally appeared in my Broke-Ass City column for the SF Examiner.
I’ve never quite understood why it’s called the “Walk of Shame.” I mean, I guess there’s some patriarchal bullshit involved, intimating that it’s shameful when a woman does it. But for as long as I can remember, the term has been used equally for someone of any gender making the morning after meander home. Personally, I’ve always preferred to call it the “Walk of Fame” or the “Stride of Pride,” simply because getting laid is awesome, and we shouldn’t feel shameful about enjoying it — whether it’s with a one-night stand or a long-term partner.
Those who lived in The City before the days of Lyft and Uber remember the particularly San Francisco aspect of this early morning amble. Back then, getting a cab was a crap shoot; not only were they expensive, the taxi dispatchers knew they had the power of midlevel deities. And unless you ordered a cab in a very specific way, they’d often just hang up on you. So if you woke up somewhere that cabs didn’t often cruise, you either had to walk or take Muni home. And it was almost inevitable that you’d see someone you knew while doing so.
My friend Lisa told me a story that illustrates this perfectly: She was walking down her street one morning and ahead she saw her friend Ryan cartoonishly trying to hide behind a light pole, hoping that she wouldn’t see him. Apparently, he was coming from the house of some boy he’d sworn off. The mental image of Ryan very poorly trying to hide himself still makes me giggle.
So maybe in Ryan’s particular circumstance that might have been an actual Walk of Shame. I guess most of us have slept with someone we probably shouldn’t have at some point in our lives, whether it was a co-worker, an ex, a friend’s ex or just someone not exactly great for us. And running into somebody you both know, outside of said person’s house, early in the morning, is about as perfectly awkward a San Francisco moment as you can get.
For me, though, the downside of the Stride of Pride was never running into someone I knew. It was always seeing people having healthy mornings. There are few things more demoralizing than trudging home hungover, sleep deprived and feeling generally gross — while nursing a Gatorade and liquor store junk food — and getting passed by people jogging. Your mouth tastes like booze, your clothes smell like your partner’s fragrance and cigarettes, your stomach is roiling and these smug assholes trot by on their way to yoga.
The nerve of them trying to have healthy and productive days! I guess it’s the price paid for getting laid.
With the advent of ride-hail companies, we now have the ability to order a more discrete trip home. The Walk of Shame has now become a Ride of Pride, which certainly makes for less-awkward moments — unless of course you get matched up with your ex in a Lyft Line home.
That said, I still like making the walk. Assuming it’s not dumping god-awful amounts of water from the heavens and that the person I’m dating doesn’t live completely across town, I like a nice, morning saunter through The City. There’s a certain loveliness of seeing San Francisco yawn and stretch her way into the day. The streets aren’t too busy, the buses aren’t too full and the babies and puppies are so cutely out in force. It almost makes seeing those healthy bastards on the way to the gym bearable. Almost.
May you have a wonderful Stride of Pride this weekend. Hell, even if you live with your significant other, get up early and do so hand-in-hand. I’m sure there’s a brunch line you can wait in and a hungover person you can laugh at on the way.