Union Station, June 10: I had just settled into my seat in the quiet car on the train from DC to NY when I saw a young woman in her early 20s board. No luggage. She wore a cream-colored spaghetti-strapped summer dress and a pink shawl. The weather was somewhat chilly that Friday morning and the sky was overcast but the previous night had been warm and summery. I thought, “Here’s a woman whose walk of shame is courtesy of Amtrak’s regional.”
No one paid any attention to her but then people on the quiet car are often typing on their laptops, reading, or sleeping. She got off a short time later in Baltimore. I was curious about her story. First date? Did she intend to be out all night or did the evening unfold in an unexpected way.
Then I wondered about the origins of “walk of shame” and how – and why – the term is only associated with women. Certainly those who walk in “shame” were with men the previous night. Have some grilled halibut nicoise with vegetables while I share some history.
As always, when curious, consult Google. Ms. Google identified an informative article in Business Insider that describes the origins of the term. In medieval France, adulterers were punished by roping the couple together naked and forcing them to walk through town. According to the medieval expert who wrote the article, sometimes villagers beat them with clubs. Trumpeters led the way to make certain the townspeople saw them. If the man escaped either before or after his arrest, he avoided the public humiliation but the woman was still paraded, without clothes, through town. The woman did not have this escape clause option.
I have never done a walk of shame but then I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed of. And yet, that was the term that came to mind when I saw the “girl” on the train (with apologies to Paula Hawkins).
It’s hard to change long-held language associations even when attitudes have changed. Unfortunately some people are still stuck in the dark ages. As President Obama said last Tuesday, ““We need to change the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality but gives men a pat on the back for theirs.”
If turnabout is fair play, I think I will punish or at least slap the wrists of a few men for their shameful (for various reasons) dating profiles. These men should be doing that walk. You know I like to leave you with a bit of humor.
Didn’t I know this guy in middle school?
The next one is subtler. Note the two sentences after he mentions the Poconos.
Lists can be helpful but it’s important to know when to stop:
Here’s looking at you kid – right through that window.
Until next week, happy dating or not dating – and without shame!