(Photo courtesy Google Maps)

In the dark time shortly before Uber hit New York City suburbs, I was perched at the local watering hole I frequented. In retrospect, I spent a year too long as a patron at this extra sticky dive bar. I met a kind, funny twenty-something who insisted on feeding me tequila shots.

The last thing I remember was throwing said tequila shots over my shoulder knowing I couldn’t handle any more alcohol. I’d like to formally apologize to both the twenty-something and the poor girl who got splashed in the face with tequila.

One thing led to another and Twenty-Something and I went back to his place. I know this because I woke up in a dingy basement decorated with Christmas lights, assorted bongs, and a washer and dryer. I concluded that not many millennials have a washer and dryer setup (spoiler alert, we never will). I was not at twenty-something’s bachelor pad. I was at Twenty-Something’s parents home.

Luckily, Twenty-Something’s parent’s care about Twenty-Something and there was a basement exit. In this case, it was an emergency exit. Unluckily, Twenty-Something’s parents sprung for a fenced-in backyard and my gruesome hangover and the blinding sunlight was making it hard to find my next emergency exit.

It was at this moment I thanked my mother for my long legs while a woman glared at me from the kitchen window. I smiled and waved before hopping the fence and then realized I was still drunk.

I found my bearings by walking past the parish I grew up in as people shuffled out of early morning mass. I thanked God that I had quit that shit years earlier and current attendees wouldn’t remember me.

About halfway through my walk, on the busiest road in a small New Jersey town, I heard a horrifying sound.

“Liz?”

Oh god. Oh Jesus Christ. Please don’t do this to me; I’ll go back to church. I’ll turn right around and sit in a pew in my mini dress and thigh high boots, covered in last night’s makeup asking for forgiveness. Maybe church had installed USB ports in the previous six years so I could charge my paperweight of a dead cell phone.

I turned to find my best friend’s older brother riding his bike to work.

“Enjoy your bike ride,” I said, flustered, drunk, and downright shameful. I scoffed at his lack of a car while I held back dry heaves, stranded in a Jersey wasteland. He gave me a once over, laughed, and began to peddle away.

“Enjoy your walk of shame,” he called back at me while I stood in front of a halfway house. In that moment, I connected with the people smoking on the front porch on a personal level. At least it couldn’t get any worse.

For my bravery, I deserved a treat. I ducked into a bagel shop and ordered a hangover sandwich and a water bottle resembling Hulk Hogan’s forearm. “This is a full-on walk of shame,” I thought as I gobbled the greasy grub while continuing my walk. I neared the busiest intersection in town, half-eaten sandwich in hand, and thought I was at home stretch.

Then, as I stood on the corner waiting for the light to turn, I heard what was actually the most tragically pathetic sound.

“Elizabeth?”

Now the problem with Elizabeth is not the name. Elizabeth is a goddamn beautiful name, arguably the most beautiful.  The problem with Elizabeth is that I am not Elizabeth. I am Liz. I am only Elizabeth to a handful of people.

I turn my head in what felt like slow motion, a piece of bacon lingering on my chin, my dress soaked with water that somehow didn’t make it from the water bottle into my mouth. My parents looked at me from their car window, stopped at the stoplight. What kind of psychopaths wake up before eight on a Sunday morning? We stared at each other for a few seconds before my father asked me if I wanted a ride.

“I need a little exercise,” I said as I picked the bacon off my face and put it into my mouth, then pulling down my dress to at least reach my thigh.

My mother’s expression was that of a woman who realized she should have visited a Brooklyn woman’s clinic circa December 1991. My father sat stone-faced, focusing on the road as if it was something new. I sat in the backseat with the window cracked hoping I wouldn’t have to ask my parents to stop so I can vomit after they picked me up from a walk of shame.

I proceeded to sleep in my childhood bedroom until 6 p.m. at which point I got hungry and asked my dad to order pizza. Twenty-three felt a lot like sixteen.

I’d like to say the moral of this story is to avoid alcohol, casual sex, wear a condom, go to church, and maybe drink more water. But I’ll be honest with you – I just want you to remember to always bring a portable charger and take fucking back roads if you’re doing your walk of shame on foot.