A Confident Walk (of Shame)

Several times a week I leave my office and trek a few blocks to the convenience store for an iced coffee – or, on zombie afternoons, 5 hour energy. Recently, the girl working the morning shift remarked, “You have such a confident walk! I always watch you when you come down the street. Some women are all [bows her head, slumps her shoulders]….but not you. It looks good!” Taken aback, I thanked her, then quickly explained…it’s all an act.

I’ve always felt that a woman walking alone should hold her chin up, her shoulders back, keep her face no-nonsense and her eyes peeled. But it doesn’t mean I’m a badass, it’s simply my preferred brand of asshole repellent. And that determined stride isn’t always the attribute it appears – like, for example, when I fuck up. Badly. In front of everyone. In front of the live studio audience known as the whole ruthless world. Nobody but nobody can embarrass me, with utmost conspicuous grandeur, the way my own fool-ass-foolery can. For instance…….

Not too long ago my boss retired, and since he was the best boss I’d ever had I went out of my way to arrange for a proper gift and send-off luncheon. The service at our chosen venue turned out to be insanely slow. So slow that, after two hours, I deemed it necessary to return to the office. I stood up, hugged my former boss and his wife, received praise from many for the efforts I’d made, bid my individual and collective farewells and confidently strode toward the door.

Upon exit I felt for my cars keys, found them, and froze.
I hadn’t driven there.
Laura had driven me there.
Laura was still inside, eating – alongside everyone I’d just said goodbye to.
I didn’t have a car.
I DID NOT HAVE A CAR!!!

The restaurant was housed inside a hotel lobby. I spotted a restroom across the way and, all of the sudden, I desperately needed to use it. What I really needed was time to think. What was I going to do? How was I going to play this off? How was I going to go back to work without going back in THERE first? Because I could NOT go back in there. EVER. A fate worse than death awaited me in there: fate, thy name is humiliation.

I sat in the bathroom racking my brain for a way out, any way at all; any way that didn’t involve a public walk of shame. Did I mention the members of our party were the restaurant’s only patrons that day?  Oh yeah. 20+ colleagues seated at one long table, smack dab in the center of the place, with an open, positively grand view of the entrance. Right stinking there. No sneaking back in, unnoticed. No sir. And no way around my predicament, either. No ma’am.

So, with my chin held high, my shoulders rolled back, my face set firm and my eyes avoiding direct contact with any other human being, I glided back into the dining room as swiftly as possible. At the sight of me, my boss raised a curious eyebrow and a few heads turned my way, but most were engaged in conversation, and I thought I might just come out of this unscathed. That’s when Laura greeted me….with a clap. A slow clap.
Joined by others. Including my husband.
“I’m surprised you didn’t call a cab,” she said.

OH MY GOD! WHY DIDN’T I CALL A CAB!!!!
My brain is so (blonde) fired.

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4 thoughts on “A Confident Walk (of Shame)

  1. Ambrosia Rose

    Oh man, do I know this feeling. As you know, I’m a generally-confident walker and speaker both. It’s a great asshole filter, and means people are more likely to follow my lead. But I’ve noticed that it makes changing my mind, or correcting a mistake, a higher-stakes game – especially since I tend to dress in ways that make me stand out. If I walk past a bank of windows, and realize a moment later that I’m going in the wrong direction, I feel self-conscious about simply turning around and walking back. (I…may have gone a block out of my way, in the past, to avoid this very scenario. Possibly.)

    On the other hand, it’s motivated me to plan things out in advance and make sure I have my shit together. Or, when speaking, to be certain of whatever topic it is I’m declaiming upon. Want to challenge me, mansplaining dude? Great! I can cite sources, bookmarked on my smartphone.

    Yeah, I’m popular at parties. 😛

    Reply
    1. Niki Fey Post author

      I’ve been at those parties with you and you were indeed a delight.
      And I was the drunken mess beside you, not giving a shit about shit….(until the next painful morning, that is.)

      Reply
  2. judilyn

    Cute story. Everyone probably forgot about the situation within a few minutes. Something else jumped into the limelight – and – whoosh – your circumstances fade into the background.

    Still … I know the feeling. ;->

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    Reply

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