The New Walk of Shame For The Single Woman — Going Out Alone

On Twitter I dubbed it “The New Walk of Shame for The Single Woman — Going Out Alone,”   though  there’s nothing really shameful about it.  It’s just not something that I want to be so  . . . obvious, or frequent for that matter.  But of course it is what it is.

Still,  as I walked out of my house in the ‘burbs, wearing  a little black top,  jeans and heels on a Saturday evening right before nightfall, I felt the little ick.  Perhaps under cover of darkness I would have felt differently.   After all, I was just going out.  I wasn’t turning tricks or anything.  (Ironically, even prostitutes are usually getting into a car with someone.  Not me.  Solo all the way.)  Still, I felt weird, exposed.

In the first place, I hadn’t felt like going out at all.   I was exhausted and frankly, tired of going places alone, tired of driving.   I  also hadn’t been sleeping well and had forgotten to eat — again.  See, Confessions of a Skinny Mom.  Additionally, I tend to be “melancholy”  (sounds so much better than clinically depressed) and it’s hard for me  to get out —  yet that is exactly  what I must do, or so I’m told.    Plus, I really hate driving  and this was going to be about a thirty minute ride.   On the other hand, had I stayed home, well, there may have been tears or  chores or nothing special, followed by  guilt and anger for the tears, chores or nothing special.  See Weekends Off.  I would have beaten myself up  for not going out on the one of two nights a month when the kids are gone and when this time,  coincidentally– luckily,  there was actually someplace where I could go — alone.  Oh yeah,  there was a whole carnival fun house of competing emotions going on my head.  So I forced myself to go out.  This again is where it is helpful to have people with you. When required to meet someone or when a friend is picking you up, you can’t bail.   That little voice that says “just stay home”  is naturally squelched.   But when going out alone, well, a woman can change her mind at the last minute.  A woman’s prerogative.  No one would be disappointed, no one would be left waiting, no one would be the wiser.  I confess that I have driven myself places, or attempted to drive myself places and gotten lost, not found parking, etc. and ended up turning around and going home without ever having left  the car.  This has happened, more than once.

Carrie, minus a “Plus One”

On this particular night I got the ick walking to my car.  It probably hadn’t helped that I’d just watched the Season Five Sex And The City Episode where Carrie does not have a “Plus One” for her big book release party and admits to loneliness,  Charlotte admits to not liking the sound of  talking about her divorce and Miranda avoids telling a man she’s become a mother.  All three of those hit home for me.

So as I walked to my car to go out, my feeling was somewhat reminiscent of the traditional  “Walk of Shame” home that a woman makes  in broad daylight, wearing the same clothes from the night before.  That look screams: “You had somebody last night, you were doing something all night, but  now you’re on your own, and everybody knows it.”

Marshall, Ted, and Barney enjoying the day of Halloween traditional "Walk of Shame" in How I Met Your Mother

Marshall, Ted, and Barney enjoying the day of Halloween traditional “Walk of Shame” in How I Met Your Mother

I felt  like the walk to my car in daylight and heels  screamed:  “Single woman,  all alone and trying to get some action.”   It’s my own paranoia, fueled by the fact that I’ve been known to “people watch,”  and I know that if I saw myself going out like that in daylight —  alone on a Saturday evening— I’d say,

I wonder where she’s going?

I just wanted to get in my car as quickly as possible.

I realize that the fact that I play music gives me a huge advantage for going out alone.   Music provides me with  night-time activities,  like jam sessions, or going out to listen to  other musicians I know play, where I can have a really good excuse for being alone, even in bars. This particular event was a jam session/fundraiser for a music studio run by a guy I’d gone to school with many years ago.   I’m on his mailing list and get impersonal invitations all the time.   I’d never gone before.  I’d never really seriously considered going.   But this was going to be the night that I would actually go, damn it.   I felt obligated —  not to him — but to me.   It was a timing thing.   It was a night I could go, and a place to go.

The studio was at a  location I’d never been to, in the part of the city where I’ve gotten lost more than once.  But it is a new world now.  I wasn’t really traveling alone, not anymore — now I had my new best friend Miss GPS, who right now is a  very polite British woman.  Let’s call her Emma.  Emma  tells me when to turn and when to “take the Motorway.”  I programmed Emma and she guided my journey.  Once I “reached my destination” and parked, I checked in with my Twitter friends, who were giving me the thumbs up for going out alone.

Okay.  Lipstick on, glasses off.   Valuables (meaning Emma) hidden, car locked.  I retrieved the entry code for the security door from my email invitation and was ready to go.  Following the prompts, I entered the code on the door.   Unfortunately,  the call went directly  to voicemail, which was full!  Crap.   No one was answering to buzz me in.  I tried again, repeatedly.  This is when having someone with me might have been  helpful.  You know, someone to complain to, bounce ideas off of . . .  someone to make me not look so stupid.  I mean, picture it, a woman alone, dressed for  going out,  in an iffy neighborhood, standing in front of  a building and —–  no one is buzzing her in!

Tragic, I tell you. Tragic.

I went back to the safety of my car.   Safe, that is, from the public humiliation of being  rejected by a security entry door.  I was about to tweet about my epic  failure of the night and go home, when, out of the corner of my eye I saw that someone had opened the door.  It was my Knight in Shining Armor (or, more accurately, some guy in a Lucky Brand Jeans Tee-Shirt)!   Yay!  Someone had been sent  down to let me in!  My calls were not unanswered!  I was not going to be left alone in my car to do the drive of shame back home.  I was going in!

The Lucky Brand guy whom I’d never met showed me upstairs in the not completely renovated warehouse type building, walking me down  long narrow hallways of exposed brick.  We took the freight elevator up.  I wondered for a moment whether I should have told someone where I was going so that if I were to say — go missing —   my loved ones  would have a general location  to give to the police for questioning.   But no worries, I safely entered the studio, full of people who were not scary.   I panicked for a split second when I didn’t see the only guy I  expected to know.   But he was there, and when he saw me, he gave me a hug and said,

“What a nice surprise.”

First part of  my mission had been accomplished.   I had arrived, alone,  albeit slightly overdressed.   But I was there.  Doing the visual room check it appeared that most people came with someone, of course.   Some were couples, some were related, some were friends.  While the people were open with introductions,  they mostly  talked to each other. I immediately joined the jam, avoiding the standing alone awkwardness.   When I wasn’t playing I parked myself in an area to watch and listen (and where, by design, I didn’t have to talk).  One other good (or bad) thing about music events is that a person can be there  and never really have a conversation at all and, more importantly,  the lack of  conversation is not so obvious.    This makes my attendance “minus a Plus One”  a little less alone, and it  comes as quite a relief to my road dog, Ms.  Social Anxiety, who is often with me, even if no one else can see her . . . bwa ha ha ha.

In the end, though, I  got out of the house, out of my neighborhood, and stepped out of the box (a different type of music, even played a different instrument for a little while).   Plus, I do love music.  And it is absolutely true that music brings people together without any talking at all —  it breaks down both language and more importantly for me,  social barriers,  and really,  how cool is that?

My English Electronic Friend Emma and I returned home safely —  under cover of darkness.

Just Me With . . . no shame after a night out, alone.

And I got hit on . . . Where Did I Put My Fake Boyfriend?

17 responses

  1. I’m so proud of you for getting out there! I hate that feeling too and the voices in my head talk to me as if I’m “people watching” someone else. And they’re not nice! “What is she wearing?” “A bit much on the lip gloss don’t ya think?”

    I think that’s awesome that you play an instrument… Very cool! :)

  2. My GPS is called Maybell and she is the best I was so glad I got her. I am proud of you for going out. I have depression also and it got really bad when my husband was deployed. I really struggled to go out but had to for my daughter. I know how hard it is and it is awesome that you did this. You should be so proud of yourself. Hold your head high and strut your stuff

    1. Strut. Yes, I will. Ha!

  3. Yay, you! I went to a 4th of July party by myself yesterday. I felt all the awkwardness you so delightfully described above. I left the party alone, of course, and then proceeded to cry for 2 hours. I hated being around all those couples and families – without mine. But it will get better and someday I won’t feel the weirdness of showing up alone.

    You give me hope to try, try again!

    XXOO – Dishy

    1. The family party type stuff is hard. You look around and realize you’re the only single one there. bleh. Hugs.

  4. […] recently took The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman:   Going Out Alone.  I had attended a jam session/fundraising event by myself.   Something happened on my out, […]

  5. love this post!! sharing it on twitter..;)

  6. […] and sweater and nice shoes.  Told my roommates I had somewhere to go — ha!   I took my “Walk of Shame”  “down hill” to the party alone, passing people walking “up hill” to the […]

  7. […] crowd.  So I’m used to doing things alone, before, during and now after my marriage. See, The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman:  Going Out Alone.  But this was different.   These people, to varying degrees, witnessed my nervous […]

  8. I can so relate to this. I’ve been divorced for almost 5 months now. (separated for almost 18.) I’m still in the stage where it feels awkward to be by myself, or hang out with other couples, which all my friends are. It’s difficult adjusting to a new way of living.

  9. […] even go a semi-professional event with one of these married guys, to avoid the dreaded and frequent “The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman: Going Out Alone.”    So, it’s nice.  These married guys genuinely like me as a friend, still acknowledge […]

  10. I’m proud of you! I’m doing more things alone and it’s always hard Two months ago I went to the burlesque show alone. So, yah, try walking out of the house to your car dressed in sequin booty shorts, fishnets, fuck me heels, and black bra under gold lace top in the daylight, alone. Earlier this week I went to a salsa dance lesson. I walked in, the only student in a skirt and heels, and was on the verge of a full on panic attack. If they’d waited 30 more seconds to get started I for sure would have bolted. But I made it through the class, alone. Dancing with old and/or sweaty guys, some with really bad breath. Okay, maybe that’s not the most encouraging story for going out alone… But, really I’m glad I went and tried something new! And I’m glad you did, as well!

    1. Thank you. Yes, being out alone can be very precarious– if there is a lull or other obstacle, it is so easy to want to bolt. I’m glad you got out and tried something new — and me too. It’s good for us!

  11. I go out alone sometimes…but other times I chicken out. My boyfriend doesn’t have the adventurous spirit I have…I don’t like to invite girlfriends because if it sucks then I feel like I wasted their time and don’t want to get stuck being roped into going to their things, which are usually super girly, expensive or end up being long winded. I prefer the company of single 50 year old men, because they’re up for anything and have no qualms about last minute or going separate ways after the show/event etc… I’m in my 30’s and an artist. I can’t always bring an older guy buddy though because they don’t always have the same taste in venues. I’m adventurous as I said so sometimes go to ‘younger’ crowd events and feel out of place and like I’m supposed to have friends with me. I wonder if I look like a desperate weirdo. It’s almost worse if I know the person running the event cause then they see I came alone, and I worry they’ll think I’m strange and distance themselves in the future thinking I’m awkward. I just don’t know why people my age don’t step out more without always needing some big formal plan ahead type of ordeal. I know people work, but so do I and I still have energy to see stuff, it keeps me in the loop and as an artist exposure to different things that’s important to me.

    1. I’ve been chickening out a lot lately. I completely understand the thing about inviting girlfriends. I often feel like it has to be more of an event or a guarantee of fun. Many of my girlfriends like to go out to eat, which can be expensive. I’m a musician so I like to see live performances but it is weird sometimes to go alone. Sometimes there’s a safety issue as well. I’ve been out of the loop lately.

      1. originaleins@yahoo.ca

        Ya I know what you mean, I’m an artist…and I’m not going out to meet dating possibilities, I’m going out to expose myself to that which I find interesting.
        Sent from my BlackBerry® powered by Virgin Mobile.

  12. […] both before and after my divorce.  See, “ The Night I Became Cinderella” and “The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman, Going Out Alone.”  My ex-husband hated going anywhere. I could get him to go to my work formal once a year […]

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