Pastor Walter Mitty went out on his front porch in his pajamas and slippers last Saturday to bring in his Tribune. The air wasn’t exactly warm, but below average temperatures lately made 40 degrees feel like a heat wave.
“Morning neighbor,” hollered Michael Rosenthal as he walked toward his car.
“Where you going?”
“Over to the Retro,” Michael replied. “I feel like decorating the house for St. Patrick’s Day.”
“Hey, that’s a good idea. You mind if I join you? Come on in while I throw some clothes on.”
Michael sipped coffee in the kitchen while Mitty got dressed in the bedroom. “Decorate for St. Patrick’s Day?” he said as he sat down at the table.
Michael laughed. “What’s the matter? Can’t Jews celebrate St. Patrick’s Day too?”
“But it’s a Christian holiday, Michael. Won’t Rabbi Horowitz send the temple police after you?”
Mitty’s friend shook his head in mock disbelief. “Get with the program, Walt. St. Patrick’s Day hasn’t been a religious day for years. It’s just like Halloween. The original meaning is long gone. It’s just a time to be silly and have fun.”
“I guess the bet is off,” said Michael as the two men walked through Retro’s front door. Walt had bet Michael that Zaphne’s hair would be dyed green and Michael said it would be orange. What they saw was the store’s owner dressed in a leprechaun outfit, the left side of her hair dyed green and the right side orange with a white stripe down the middle.
“So, what brings the two best looking men in Poplar Park into the Retro?” Zaphne was smiling. Mitty and Michael were blushing.
“Came to get some St. Patrick’s Day stuff to decorate my house,” said Michael as he eyed two big Guinness posters on the wall.
“He says he’s a Conservative Jew,” Pastor Walt explained with a wink, “but he’s really Reform.”
“Well, we can take care of you.” Zaphne enjoyed flirting a little with these men who were old enough to be her father. It was safe in a world where not many things were anymore. “And you have to go next door and check out Kilkenny Pub. Me and Shawn are working together for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m decorating his tavern with some of my stuff and he’s going to sell it. Cool, huh?”
Before Michael and Mitty could answer, Zaphne shouted, “Hey, Father Sullivan. What brings the handsomest guy in town into my store?” The two neighbors looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
Father Bob shook hands and said, “The power of the Irish.”
“Sure,” said the Franciscan. “Here you have it. Protestant, Catholic and Jew; brought together by St. Patrick’s Day.”
“You here to buy St. Patrick’s Day decorations, too?” asked Michael.
“Actually, I can’t get into St. Patrick’s Day myself,” said the priest. Raised eyebrows motivated him to continue. “Let me tell you a story about St. Patrick.
“See, there was this Druid stone column next to a circle of 11 stones. It represented the god of darkness, Crom Cruach. So, of course, when Patrick came upon this site of pagan worship, he tipped over the 11 stones in the circle and tried to smash the stone column. He damaged it, but he couldn’t destroy it, and it survives to this day in the Ballyjamesduff Museum.”
“So, how does that story explain why you can’t get into St. Patrick’s Day?” Michael asked.
“Well,” answered Fr. Sullivan, “you remember what God warned the Israelites not to do when they entered the Promised Land?”
“Of course. He told them to not let the pagans defile their religion.” Michael stopped to think about what he had just said. “I get it,” he said. “Patrick tried to defeat the pagans, and they not only survived. They sometimes seem to be winning.”
The priest just nodded. Zaphne, Michael, and Pastor Walt pondered what had just been said.