Titus Benton

This month the Class of 1999 — my class — is gathering to celebrate our 20-year reunion. I’m really upset, but I’m not going to be able to attend. It just doesn’t fit with the family schedule. Still, 100 or so of my classmates will gather and share stories of back in the day.

In recognition of this fact, and in light of my absence, I’d like to share twenty things about my time at Salem High School that are moments I’ll never forget. Consider it my contribution to all the reminiscing around the proverbial punch bowl.

20. Singing in the superb Concert & Chamber Choir that performed at the state conference of Missouri educators. It was a choral state championship that left me with goosebumps.

19. Working at WalMart my senior year. I was the second-best cashier there, and a favorite of classmates that wanted to avoid the adults when buying certain items that could be considered contraband.

18. Renaissance Assemblies! Music. Blacklights. Mr. Hendrix danced. What else does a teenager need?

17. The 1997-1998 basketball team. What a ride. What a disappointing end. What a memory.

16. Hiding in the woods with cross country teammates. They smoked cigarettes and were still far better runners.

15. Having Brett Toman try to teach me calculus in preparation for Quiz Bowl tournaments. It didn’t take.

14. When a fight broke out in the cafeteria and one of my classmates flung Mr. Simms off him like a rag doll. Then the cops showed up.

13. Playing Hacky Sack with the guys after lunch.

12. When my name was misspelled in the Houston Boys JV Basketball Tournament, prompting a new nickname that lasted most of sophomore year — Titu.

11. Writing love letters to a crush from church camp in Geometry class. It didn’t last. But the letters were really good.

10. Judging livestock my junior year. Willie Strader was our star. I wasn’t that good, but it was one of the most fun things I did in high school.

9. Our little prayer group that met pretty often, especially my junior and senior year, before the first bell of the school day. I never felt alone or ostracized because of my faith at SHS.

8. When the speed line wasn’t so speedy because more people went to it than went to the regular lunch room line.

7. Noticing the first few of my classmates getting cell phones. How weird, I thought. Why do they need a phone at school?

6. Winning the second-best prize at Project Graduation. I missed out on the infamous car, but I secured a $500 scholarship for college, which I desperately needed.

5. Running in the 24-Hour relay with my cross country teammates. I don’t know how many miles we ran collectively, but I’ve rarely been more tired.

4. Getting my first e-mail. My preacher, Rod, helped me sign up. titusbenton44@hotmail.com. RIP, hotmail.

3. Did I mention all the crushes? Sorry, can’t do it. It would be way more than 20. None of them worked out, anyway.

2. Winning Netcoming King. I wore a suit. It was very fancy.

And I’ve saved the best for last…something my whole class will remember fondly. We all wore them:

1. Silk shirts.