Due to a bout of temporary madness, I
decided to go for a run on Sunday morning. I was stunned —
appalled, if you will. Yes, it has been cold, but it was not the
early-morning temperature that struck me. Rather, it was the number
of girls walking home in their stilettos and tight jeans, girls
presumably coming from the homes of still-sleeping partners.

Julie Pannuto

Either these girls were perfecting the art of sneaking away from
a post-hookup situation and thus enduring the famed walk of shame,
or guys have simply lost their senses for failing to drive these
girls home. (There were also a few men walking around, but since
their attire didn’t exactly scream “I wore this last
night, hence the wrinkles,” I cannot make the same

Whatever the reasons for their solo homecomings, these girls and
their treks home through the snow define how awkward things really
can be the morning after. The sheer concept of returning home from
a burning bed becomes the most mind-boggling dilemma. Do you
tip-toe your way out and haughtily walk back in your
Touchdown’s finest? If you are at your own place, how the
heck are you going to get this person to leave?

See? There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the
endpoint of last night’s festivities. Therefore, in memoriam
to all things decent, I’ve dedicated this column to
morning-after etiquette.

What the f*%$ moment

Obviously, the first awkward moment that many experience has got
to be waking up next to an unfamiliar body, or even a somewhat
familiar body who is now cuddling your teddy bear. This moment of
surprise is often the result of a good first date, or unfortunately
due to those four shots that ultimately led to x amount of more

At this point, the chain of events leading here are of no value
whatsoever. It doesn’t matter if this mattress companion sort
of looked like Cameron Diaz when you squinted in the dark bar. More
importantly, you better hope that you’ve been blessed with
quick reflexes because you need to make your move, and make it

This is the unwritten, yet key rule that needs to be obeyed:
Though you may or may not have gotten more intimate with this
person than you had intended, you must react upon your nocturnal
behavior. You can thank Newton for hypothesizing that every action
has an equal and opposite reaction, because that sums up this

When this moment occurs, you have a few options for action. You
may wake up and hit the road before he or she awakens, but this is
a really pathetic mode of exit — it will only makes the
situation more awkward for the next time you see this person. So
rather than opting for the quick getaway or lying there in utter
silence as you feign sleep, plan on making a more cordial

Parting isn’t such sweet sorrow

The darkness has left and can no longer hide any inhibitions
that had once existed, let alone that zit on your forehead. You
need to figure out the easiest yet appropriate escape route, but
first you need to acknowledge your bedfellow. Cuddling in the a.m.
or cooking breakfast is not required in this situation (although
hooking up in the morning is acceptable — granted that
consent and protection are utilized — along with an agreement
to leave things with no strings attached), but both partners need
to make a conscious effort to exchange words about the hedonism of
last night.

Now, of course you do not need to establish an ongoing
relationship, but you can leave with (some) poise if you are
friendly. This is the perfect opportunity to use a bad joke, to
which you probably will resort, in which you poke fun at yourselves
for that thing that, you know, happened between the two of you, um,
last night (note that you can talk about things without directly
referring to them). Then take your bow, avoid waiting around for a
request for an encore performance and finally make your exit.

Risky business

If and when you do engage in activities that could lead to
morning-after awkwardness, you must be informed about STDs and
their prevalence. It’s a common admonition that if you sleep
with a stranger, you are also sleeping with everyone they have ever
slept with — and you cannot help but wonder how many
strangers have preceded you.

Morning breath really does not seem like a big deal when you
think that statistics show that one in four college students has an
STD. Numbers like that make it imperative for people to make sure
they practice sexual behaviors safely and to also discuss their
sexual health before they continue onward with the intimacy.

If sexual health matters are not mentioned that same night, it
is a good idea to make note of them the morning after. Although it
may seem strange to be asking someone about their personal health,
especially if the hookup was a one-night stand deal, it is a lot
more discomforting to imagine asking your doctor about weird bumps
down there or having to tell your previous partners that, yes, you
have gonorrhea.

Sex can be good for your health — there are numerous
studies that claim that sex eases depression, burns calories and
even influences longevity — but it really isn’t worth
it if you aren’t going to be protected.


— Rebecca is sorry she didn’t call you back.
Really … she was washing her hair. But she’s not
giving you back your big, comfy sweatshirt. She can be reached at

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