Struggles for piece of post pay off

Sunday, October 19, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:19 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Have you ever wanted anything so badly you’ll put yourself in a lot of discomfort to attain it?

You just have to keep telling yourself that whatever you want is worth the inconvenience. That’s what I kept thinking Oct. 11, the night I spent 1 ½ hours under two strangers’ armpits.

Because I was in Marching Mizzou for four years, I have a strong affection for Missouri football. But I had never gone to the games as a regular student who could be angry when we lost and raucous when we won.

This was my year to be a regular fan, and Nebraska was going to be the game to get raucous. I could feel it in the air.

When the clock hit 00:00, I stormed the field like everyone else. The electricity on the field was incredible. Sure, last year’s win against Kansas had been exciting, but it pales in comparison to beating Nebraska. Plus, I hadn’t gotten to participate in the goal post destruction last year. I didn’t know what I was in for.

After escaping the field without broken bones or a citation, I rushed downtown to Harpo’s. I thought it would be a piece of cake to get a chunk of goal post big enough to saw into souvenirs for about five people.

The first goal post was at Harpo’s. Students were blocking off the intersection. A couple of crazies climbed on the stoplights and tried to take them down. Revelers on the roof patio of Harpo’s kept trying to engage the crowd on the ground in a rousing “MIZ-ZOU,” but we were too intent on the mission at hand.

I couldn’t get near the first goal post. People were pushing and yelling, so I gave up. But when I saw the second goal post being carried up the street, I ran. I managed to wiggle through a lot of bodies and clamp four fingers on the goal post. I thought I would just have to wait perhaps 30 minutes, and I would have my souvenir.

This is where the armpits come into play.

I’m only 4 feet, 11. Most of the people holding up the post were average-sized men. It was so crowded that we all couldn’t stand side by side, so I ended up wedged between and underneath crisscrossing arms.

Not only was it uncomfortable to be stuck in some strangers’ armpits, but it was also a bit dangerous. I couldn’t see when people started passing hacksaws around. I relied on the armpit strangers to alert me if I was in danger of losing fingers. When people began sawing nearby me, the saws were at my head level instead of the chest level of everyone else. Because I was wedged in so tightly, I couldn’t turn my head away. I just closed my eyes and prayed.

It takes about 30 minutes to saw off one piece of goal post, and I was in the direct middle of about 25 fans who began sawing from the ends. I knew then that getting my souvenir wasn’t going to be as easy as I had thought.

After awhile, I got hot and thirsty. I sent my boyfriend, Justin, into Harpo’s to bring me some water. He came back with a 24-ounce beer Bud Light. There’s no difference when you’re a thirsty college student. I couldn’t hold the beer because I didn’t want to take my fingers off the goal post (by this time I had both hands on it), and I couldn’t turn my body because of the armpits.

I ended up just tilting my head back a bit and my boyfriend poured Bud Light into my mouth. Yes, I was thirsty, but not thirsty enough to let go of that yellow metal.

After about 1 1/2 hours, the crowd cleared out enough that I could escape the armpits. Forty-five minutes later, I was the last person from the large piece to have my part sawed off. I ended up with a chunk just large enough for me, my boyfriend and a friend who wasn’t able to storm the field. I kissed my yellow metal cylinder and went home.

I had stood under some strangers’ armpits for more than an hour. I had almost been cut on the hand or the face by rogue hacksaws about a dozen times. My fingers were stiff from the death grip I had kept on the post. And it was all worth it.

For a mere two hours of discomfort, I walked away with a permanent reminder of a great football game and the joys of being a college student.

If I had to stand under those strangers’ armpits again, I would.

Becky Zipfel is a Missourian employee and a master’s student at Missouri.

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