At one time or another in every college career, almost everyone has experienced the walk of shame. People generally associate the walk of shame with the morning-after-drunken-sex walk home. But you don’t necessarily have to be walking home after both sex and alcohol to be perceived as though you had both the night before. Either one is a sufficient condition for the perception of both.

As with any scientific inquiry, I thought it would be best to consult one of the foremost experts on this topic, my best friend Kim. Although not prone to a shameful walk herself, she is not immune either. When I asked her about her experience in this situation, she said, “Look in the mirror at least once to make sure you are somewhat presentable. It sucks when someone asks you for directions and you later come to realize you have wicked sex hair.” With that said, however, most of her experience comes from observations of others on the street the morning after. So remember, walk-of-shamers, we’re watching you.

Guys on a walk of shame are characterized by especially wrinkly clothes and Mohawks. By Mohawk I’m referring to something that resembles a bad gay-hawk. Leftover gel and nighttime grease combined with coma-like passed out sleep make for a pretty funky hairstyle. In contrast to this is just nasty, matted, greasy hair, which is also easy to spot.

Just as an aside, what I call a gay-hawk is hair of normal length sort of molded into a Mohawk, rather than one accentuated by shaving as with the term’s Native American namesake. I just kind of made up the term gay-hawk and I don’t want to exclude anyone from this hairstyle. So let’s call it the usually-gay-hawk for now. Maybe faux-hawk would be better.

There have been plenty of times where I have walked home after a night of drinking, only to look into the mirror at home to find a huge Mohawk running down the side of my head or sometimes, an alfalfa cowlick. I’m sure people who see me on the street think I’m on a walk of shame.

Girls on the walk of shame are also characterized by clothing and hair, as well as messy makeup. On Seinfeld, when Elaine was trying to let her walk of shame go unnoticed, Jerry called her on her hair. He described it as being “slightly depoofed.”

And remember, although you might be on a walk of shame yourself, don’t just assume others are. One time, one of my roommates was on the elevator in the morning with some guy. So the guy turns to her and says, “I see you’re on a walk of shame, too.” She just kind of looked back and said calmly, “No.” Then the usual awkward elevator silence continued, only now more intensely. The moral of the story is to be cautious about whom you accuse of shame walking. Some people just don’t look their best in the morning.

That brings me to my next point. If you want to get out of there before morning comes, here are a few things I’ve learned. Be blunt. A friend of mine swears the best way is to just be up front and honest. He said, “I told a girl that I was really only interested in hooking up and nothing more. I was able to leave right away and we became each other’s f-ck buddies.” Now I don’t know if all girls, or guys for that matter, will be this understanding, but it’s worth a shot.

Or, if you don’t want to have to deal with your “buddy” at all, you could just dispose of them. If a hotter hook-up calls and you realize that you’ve made a mistake, whisper nice things until he or she passes out and then arrange a place for him or her to reside. Last year, a friend from across the hall did a drop-off of our mutual friend into my bed so that he wouldn’t have to miss out on a better opportunity and would not have to deal with the messy situation. Keep in mind that this is a short-term solution, and it may not be worth what you’ll have to deal with the next morning.

Whenever you leave someone’s place, make sure to bring your underwear. Also, there is a great song on the Internet about the walk of shame at oak.cc.conncoll.edu/~wsmix/walk.mp3. This song covers the walk of shame much more coherently than I did. It is worth your time. Trust me.