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The Walk of Shame; Glamorizing Drinking

This morning while driving to teach on the first day of school I was listening to the local Pop hip-hop rap favorite station of the kids. You know, the one they listen to on the way to school every day.

The morning DJ,  whose name I cannot remember, which is just as well, was being razzed by her colleague and accused of participating in a “walk of shame”.  I listened closely to try to understand what this meant.

With clear and overt innuendos, the female DJ explained that last night she had stayed at the bar and was so intoxicated that some “gentleman” she did not know kindly drove her home.  She woke up with “smeared makeup all over”, tired and hung over remembering that when this happened before, she had to walk to the bar and retrieve her car before it got ticketed.  There she was, at work, in her sweatpants and T-shirt with her morning fair and “smeared”  make up in what he and her colleague called the “walk of shame”.

I wanted to at least applaud her for not driving herself home,  which she would have done without the intervention and care taking of the “helpful gentleman” who drove her home.

Not a word, however, was mentioned about the blessing of her not taking to the wheel to drive herself home.  You would think, especially with all the kids listening that this would be mentioned.

Oh no!  Rather, the two chatted about the glorification and humor of the “walk of shame.” When he asked her if she was embarrassed, regretful or sorry in any way she boastfully exclaimed, “Heavens no!  I only was sorry that I had to walk in the condition that I was in to retrieve my car so early in the morning.” (No mention of gratitude to the “helpful gentlemen”.)

That little anecdote was no doubt heard by thousands of children and teenagers who just learned that the “walk of shame” is to be proud of, to wear as a kind of the heart or medal of honor.

From this example, sponsored by an” adult” who could use her influence to impact young people positively, we begin to realize where the seed for the model of risky, self-destructive behavior has its inception.  As we parent our teens, we need to know that this is one of the messages they are getting from the media.

There was laughter, banter, pride, arrogance and a message sent to young people to “drink, be merry…binge drink until you don’t even know who you are or where you are.   As long as you are careful, it will be okay….”.  This is normal, even maybe a healthy rite of passage.

The words “risky behavior” and “alcohol” cannot mix with “safe” and “careful”.

Students who use drugs or alcohol or have used for years have let me know that “yes they are careful and safe” in their substance use.  Yes, sure, they know peers who have died and or inadvertently killed others while driving under the influence.

I asked a teen “mentee” who drank and threw drinking parties regularly why he had not been part of an accident, or tragedy like the many before him.   His response was, “Because I am careful!”  I corrected him, “No, you are lucky!   The others weren’t so lucky.  Don’t mistake “careful” for “lucky” and I pray your luck holds out.

There is no such thing as a “safe drinking party”.  It is an illusion.  Speak to the thousands who have lost loved ones who thought they were being “safe” and “careful”.

The “walk of shame”, as the DJ put it, should not be glorified and worn as a badge of pride, but rather avoided or taken seriously as a warning, an admonition and never repeated.

By Rick Concoff c2013


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