Marsha Schuh

Everything I Need to Know about Men I Learned at Band Camp


Sometimes, boys at Arrowbear Music Camp chose a girl they thought was prettiest during the two weeks everyone would be together, and she became the girl of the fortnight.

Sometimes band kids were kind of nerdy, but these eight boys belonged to a club called The Cynics and wore light blue sweatshirts with a capital C, an arrow cutting downward through it.

Sometimes–once–one of them chose me, and he was the best horn player I ever heard, except Dennis Brain, but he was famous; besides, he’d never met me and he was at least 40, ancient.

Sometimes Jack wore dark rimmed glasses like Buddy Holly and when he flipped his long hair out of his eyes, he seemed much older than the 15-year-old boys I knew—maturity, a plus.

Sometimes, he quoted Shakespeare, Kerouac, and Kafka as easily as my father quoted scripture and with a passion for the word I’d never heard from anyone else, including my dad.

Sometimes, he led me to imagine things I’d never thought about—like what it would be like to kiss his lips, and stuff involving tongues.  It was hard to concentrate on notes or counting rests.

Sometimes I forgot the boy back home who had never even tried to kiss me though we spent hours parked in his father’s car, listening to KFWB channel 98, outside my house.

Sometimes, Jack caused me to do things that excited yet frightened me, like sneak out to Happy Gap alone, talking, holding hands, cuddling till midnight.

Once, when we tiptoed back from Happy Gap after curfew, he kissed me in front of the girl’s dorm. I thought it was true love.

Once warm honey ran through my body and my eyes closed, so I didn’t notice the spotlights that came on — caught in front of the whole, entire camp.

Sometimes, I still want to believe like that.

Marsha Schuh earned her MFA in Poetry at California State University, San Bernardino where, until last year, she taught English. Retirement as given her the chance to spend more time with her family and enjoy reading, writing, teaching, traveling, and most recently, long-arm quilting. In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, she believes that life is good.

Marsha’s work has appeared in Pacific Review, Badlands, Sand Canyon Review, Shuf, Inlandia Journal, Carnival, Found Poetry Journal and other publications. She also co-authored a college textbook, Computer Networking, published by Prentice-Hall and finally figured out how to turn the appendix about converting decimal to binary into poetry. Marsha and her husband Dave live in Ontario, California.