I wrote this column after a horrible walk of shame I took several years ago. Much of the column is exaggerated or downright invented, but one thing that was not invented-nor was it exaggerated-the one thing that was exactly as I wrote it, was the unicorns, the unicorns, those goddamn unicorns.
"Yea, though I walk through The Valley of the Shadow of Death..." -Psalm 23:4
It is morning. You are viciously hung over. Hangovers are bonfires in Hell, to be sure, but they wouldn't be so bad if you were home. Then you could deal. Then you would merely crawl out of bed (slowly, slowly-so as not to disturb those tender brain cells), inch toward the refrigerator, grab anything that resembles a fluid, inch back toward the couch (slowly, slowly) and remain there forever.
Alas, you are not home. You are lying on an unfamiliar bed in some unfamiliar female's peach-colored bedroom with the goddamn morning sun barreling through the window and splashing all over your pallid face like a crucifix searing a vampire's flesh.
And, as if that weren't a goddamnuff, this particular female has a thing for unicorns. It's a creepfest, to be sure. There is a bluey, suedey unicorn poster on the wall, a unicorn lamp on the night table, a series of unicorn figurines scattered on various shelves and mantles and a unicorn bedspread featuring multiple unicorns in various unicorn poses such as unicorn-galloping and unicorn-grazing and unicorn-sparring-with-other-unicorn and, worst of all, unicorn-close-up-with-unicorn-looking-all-cute-and-shit.
Walk of Shame Fact No. 67: Hangovers and unicorns do not mix.
Your bedmate awakens. To your horror, she wants to cuddle. Not that you're surprised (after all, her bedroom is painted peach), but cuddling and hangovers do not mix. You know instantly what you must do. You must break free from the cuddle, exit this Bizarro Glass Menagerie and get your ass home, on the couch, with a bottle of something that resembles fluid, and remain there forever.
First, you tactfully elude the cuddle by reaching for the glass of water on the unicorn-infested night table. Then you disentangle yourself from her clammy flesh (slowly, slowly), whisper a feeble excuse about some meeting you have to attend, then walk out the door and emerge into the cruel, cruel Southern California pre-noon sun.
Thus begins the walk across the batholith that is the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Step after painful step, like a wounded fugitive slogging through a misty bog, you surge forward. Step after torturous step, and the bright-eyed, chipper, happy morning people all turn to gaze at the freak in scuffed black boots, wrinkled shiny shirt and worst case of bed-head since Sid Vicious walk-of-shamed from Nancy Spungen's place on Oct. 12, 1978.
From out of the crowd that's begun to form around you, an old white-haired hag steps forth and starts screaming.
"Look at the devil that carouses all night, seducing unwitting women with drugs and alcohol!" she howls. "Look at him slither through your neighborhood, leaving his trail of immoral slime on your consecrated sidewalks," she says as you slink away, dragging the slippery, tangled tentacles of your disgrace.
Walk of Shame Fact No. 82: While walking the walk of shame, there is too much time to remember and replay the mistakes of the night before.
Step by step, and you begin to piece together the antics of the night before. First, it was lemon drops and laughter and Al Green on the jukebox. But then it became something else, something dark, something like shots of tequila and tongue-swapping on toadstools with Tool cranking in the background.
Step by excruciating step, and you see a blistering-hot Brazilian beauty soaping her Peugeot in the carwash bay. Forgetting yourself, you smile and say hi. But your dehydrated snarl sounds like a thousand tortured demons piping from the fissures of Hell. She drops her foam brush and flees in terror. You lower your head in shame-like Frankenstein's first look into the mirror-and continue your desperate journey.
Step by step by unspeakable step, and your throat screams for something that resembles fluid. Step by step by appalling step, and you realize: it didn't seem this far to walk last night, when you left the pub and headed toward her house-two drunken lustbugs swaggering down the street-stopping only to push her up against a wall and clumsily grope each other in the dark. It went much quicker then.
Step by head-pounding step, and you see something ahead. Can it be? Yes. Yes! It's the voluptuous curves of the golden arches. And you fall to your knees and thank the Lord, saying, "Oh, Lord, isn't egg McMuffin exactly what I need?"
The cashier-a 40ish, decrepit, chubby, stringy-haired, flea-bitten hellhound-glowers as you order breakfast. She knows what you've done and does not approve of your lifestyle: dancing and drinking till sunrise, swooping down on unsuspecting women, seducing them with booze and bravado.
Walk of Shame Fact No. 1: You did nothing wrong. You had fun; she had fun. Hold your head up and walk that walk of shame like a goddamn man, man.
You finish the last bite of simulated hash brown patty and walk toward the door (slowly, slowly). As an afterthought, you hoist a middle finger toward the corpulent cashier wench, as if to say, "Yeah, I got laid last night. You should try it sometime, lady." Then you walk out the door, raise your head high and resume the arduous-yet proud-walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
The current incarnation of Ed's column will return when he goddamn feels like writing again.