Hour 23: 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22
The Missouri fans make their fierce and sullen march. Like the bile of a starved drunkard heaved from a stomach, the crowd moves in a frantic, shapeless yellow mass with one goal: get as far as possible from the mess inside. Lost game, losing record, losing hope.
So it is that the journey to the parked car begins. It begins not as a walk but as a fight — through burning pits of sweet meat and over pavement sticky with beer spills. Past orange smiles and under foam footballs soaring overhead.
Half a mile down Stadium, the crowd starts to thin. Together we stumble across grassy slopes. We single file at the edge of the road — dragging coolers, hoisting children, shielding sun. Ravine at our left, speeding three-ton bullets at our right. Onward we go. Some farther than others.
"Dang. How far away did we park?"
"It didn't seem this far before."
Before a 45-24 loss to Oklahoma State, that is.
"Yeah, we're way down there."
As the walk continues, the conversation changes: At least we got some sun. The kids had a blast. Henry Josey is only a sophomore. We’re going to tailgate for Texas.
By mile 1, we’re a unified mass. Spirits high. We don’t care about each other but we want the same thing: to continue the march at all costs. A traffic cop signals stop as we look to cross the intersection of Stadium and the small road leading to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial garden. A car starts to cross the intersection but one brave, cooler-wielding soul leads us. We follow, of course. We cannot be stopped.
Just before Forum Boulevard, the string of cars snaps. A few stragglers of the broken strand lay ahead, but the collective march is over.
Mostly Oklahoma State fans have lasted this far down the strand. The Missouri fans have found their piece.
The last car in line has a blazing orange license plate with an O, an S and a U. Cowboys are relegated to the back, but that’s OK. When you’re flying high you need more time to land.