Chip Mosher: Back to school, thank God

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<p>Chip Mosher</p>

Summer’s over. For educators and students it’s the start of another year, a new beginning, where everyone gets a second chance. Time to fix up the classrooms and also clean out the mental garbage accumulating inside one’s head from being left idle too long.

And a pervasive question, like a perennial flower, blooms all over the place this time of year in our schools: What’d you do over the summer?

For teachers, usually the answer to this ranges from going back to Ohio to see the folks, to visiting Disneyland, to walking on the Great Wall of China. From kids, responses can vary from going back to Mexico, to getting a first job, or, my personal favorite, doing nothing.

I love the human race when things seem so uncomplicated. But then there’s my life. For which answers never come quite as easily. When a colleague recently asked me what I had done this summer I told her the truth.

“If I could smoke it, drink it, fornicate with it or gamble it, I did,” I said, describing my summer Vegas staycation.

“Mosher, you always make me laugh,” she said. I guess she thought I was joking.

Actually, I’ve battled the cigarette thing on and off since smoking in the boys’ restroom in high school. As for alcohol, I normally drink a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey once a year on Christmas Eve — to mourn, in my pathetic way, the loss of my own family of alcoholics around Christmas when I was 13. About the fornication, well, during the school year I often get so busy teaching that, combined with this CityLife writing gig, I forget to take care of personal domestic issues. However, I have a doctor who, for my health, tells me to exercise, eat and sleep better, take vitamin D and GET MORE SEX. What a great doctor!

But then there’s the gambling. I took it up with a vengeance this summer, which is strange because, other than smoking, I’ve always managed to avoid addictive behaviors. Probably as a result of childhood experiences. And I’ve had many friends in education who, over the years, have regularly lost their paychecks, and more, to casinos. One great teacher lost his wife, two daughters and a beautiful home in Boulder City due to gambling. Another terrific educator I knew crawled out of her hospital bed six hours after having her first baby to go play video poker at a convenience store across the street.

At Gamblers Anonymous, a group of former gamblers helping other addicted gamblers, they say such behavior ultimately leads to prison, insanity or death. I remember one distraught teacher — who cashed and gambled away, in two days, his mother’s $200,000 check from the sale of her home — frequently talking of killing himself. Later, he did commit suicide.

I know that during my own recent foray into gambling, I’ve wanted, on many occasions, to borrow a weapon from gun-happy County Commissioner Tom Collins to angrily shoot up some slot machines. And after losing money, I easily could have ripped off my clothes to run naked through our streets like Prince Harry. But that would be out of character for me.

Let’s just say I’m happy school’s starting, and to be back at my day job. For years, on my way to work I’ve always muttered this prayer: “Lord, make me worthy of every kid you send my way.” This year, though, I’ll be adding a new twist to it: “Plus, God, grant me the serenity —”

Other than that, dear reader, how was your summer?