They call it the walk of shame but you know damn well it’s a victory march. The morning after you’ve got laid, as you drag your fuck-tired body to the bus stop, or the tube, or the café round the corner which will furnish you with a bacon butty for the long journey home, you know: this is not shame, it is glory.
Last night, a fellow human being – one you thought had nice eyes or great hair or a lovely bum – took you to their bedroom and showed you that they wanted you too. As your feet slap against the pavement you hear the words inside your head: “You got so laid. You. Got. So. Laid.” Strutting in rhythm to the affirmation of your own hotness, why on Earth would you ever feel shame?
Your mind flashes back to images from last night – snapshots of an evening that will live in your memory forever – in the happy part that you dip back into when you need a burst of delight. Limbs tangled, lips round nipples, that moment when they told you ‘please please please’ and your blood thumped through your veins – part arousal, part confidence. Flattered and excited that this brand new person had deemed you worthy not just of asking but begging.
Maybe you’ll go home and touch yourself to the memories of it. Perhaps you’ll text your friends and let them know that you scored. Either way, there’ll be this moment when you walk back into your own home and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror – bleary-eyed, scruffy-haired, drained and sated and victorious. And you’ll give your mirror-self a knowing grin.
They call it the walk of shame but it’s really the strut of glory. The stride of pride. Most mornings you walk with your head down, studiously avoiding other people’s gaze. But not today. Today you walk with your head held up, eyes peeled for strangers with the same telltale messy hair and red-rimmed eyes. Fellow travellers on the path of triumph. You think it would be inappropriate to offer these comrades a high-five, but if someone offered one to you you’d take it in a heartbeat.
It’s not so much about the sex. The sex itself can be good or bad or indifferent. Clumsy and ill-thought-through, because it’s the first time, or intense and adventurous because you both decided to really go for it. It doesn’t really matter what the fuck itself was like, what matters is: you had it. Last night a person who you hungered for realised they were hungry for you too. A real person, with hopes and dreams and worries and doubts and insecurities of their own, decided to take the time to press their warm flesh up against yours, and grind into you over and over, purely for fun. You were – are – hot and worthy and fuckable.
You wear this knowledge like a badge of pride, polishing it throughout the journey by reminding yourself of this or that part.
When they playfully pushed you onto the bed. When roaming fingers brushed the soft stomach skin just above the top of a belt, then tentatively slipped down inside. When panting and kissing gave way to murmured needs, and those needs were met with gusto.
Best of all, perhaps, that delicious knife-edge moment just before you knew you were going to fuck, when the thrill of uncertainty still hung between you: will we? Won’t we? The point when one of you said aloud what both of you had been thinking: shall we fuck? and the hope that had been fluttering in your crotch flooded the rest of your body.
They call it the walk of shame, because you stayed out all night. But shame has no place here, how could it? You spent last night with a real live human person who wanted you. Where’s the shame?
You deserve a moment to revel in this. Replace ‘shame’ with ‘celebration.’ Perhaps you treat yourself to a chocolate bar for the train ride home. Maybe you allow a little bit more chat when you stop to buy milk, secretly hoping that the person behind the counter will make some comment that acknowledges your just-fucked status. “Good night last night?” they’ll ask with a knowing grin, so you can reply with a raised eyebrow and a “yeah, not bad.” It’s possible you’re already composing the story in your head that you’ll tell to the group chat about what happened: they said this or we did that and oh God please share in my joy at this glorious moment.
Or maybe your walk of shame doesn’t take you home at all. Instead it takes you to the bakery on the corner, where you’ll buy fresh sourdough and brownies. Carrying the backpack your lover left in the hallway, and wearing a shirt that smells just like they do, you’ll grab their spare key from the place they showed you in the kitchen, and sneak out to gather supplies. With your scruffy hair and aching limbs, you’ll drag your fuck-ravaged body to the nearest shop which sells brownies, then pick up enough food to last you both through the whole of the next day.
And no one will high-five you, but some of them will see the state you’re in, and know. These ones will return your smile, and think wistfully back to similar mornings when they made the same kind of journey.
Not the walk of shame, but a victory march.
When I tweeted a bit of this post a couple of weeks ago, many people pointed out that others have also had excellent takes on the walk of shame. As ever, I stand on the shoulders of giants. There’s a fabulous ‘walk home after sex’ in Rose Matafeo’s Starstruck which you should watch if you like comedy and joy. There’s also this lovely vid with Amber Rose doing the walk of No Shame.