Just when I thought Spokane was running out of characters, an email arrived from a guy claiming to be St. Patrick.
And not only that. But St. Patrick was willing to grant me an exclusive interview, and not, as I first suspected, at a mental health facility.
But that isn’t what sold me.
What sold me was the photograph that Tom Keefe attached to his email.
In it, the gray-bearded Keefe was decked out in green-and-gold vestments that would have fooled the real saint.
Keefe’s head was topped with a triangular green-and-gold headpiece known as a mitre to theologians or “silly hat” to the rest of us. His right hand clutched a long, curled staff used for controlling sheep or keeping downtown panhandlers at bay.
I told Keefe that if he had enough guts to meet me in a public place wearing these duds, I’d play along with his madness.
And so on Friday, we shared a booth in O’Doherty’s Pub & Irish Grille, 525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., and the following chat took place:
Q: So, do I call you Saint? Or just Paddy?
A: After 1,500 years in the grave, just don’t call me late for lunch.
Q: So what brings you all the way to Spokane?
A: Tim O’Doherty (owner of the pub bearing his name) asked if I’d help give the St. Patrick’s Day festivities a shot in the arm. So here I am.
Q: Your holy garb does look amazing. Authentic?
A: Lightly used and only on Sundays.
Q: How the heck does one obtain such a grand outfit?
A: This incredible thing happened while I was dead so many years. It’s called the Internet.
Q: Didn’t the previous holy man need his vestments anymore?
A: He’s now starting a prison ministry, if you know what I mean.
Q: There’s been a lot of that going around, huh?
A: The ship is on the rocks.
Q: Speaking of which, the Catholic Church will soon be getting a new pope. Is there a theological term for that process?
A: Pompous circumstances.
Q: Any chance you’re on the short list?
A: I’m ready to serve if they call.
Q: Well, you do have the wardrobe. But I see you’re wearing sandals with leprechaun socks. That’s a bit odd, isn’t it?
A: If they were good enough for Jesus, they’re good enough for me.
Q: You’re pretty quick-witted for being 1,500 years dead.
A: I do have a touch of Irish Alzheimer’s.
Q: Irish Alzheimer’s?
A: It’s when you forget everything but your grudges.
Q: Yikes. I think you’d better tell me what you have planned for the upcoming festivities and parade that bear your name.
A: Wednesday noon I’ll be at Anthony’s restaurant for a meeting with local Irish dignitaries. Next Saturday I’ll be in the noon parade riding in a white limo. I’ll also be at O’Doherty’s on Saturday and Sunday.
Q: Holding court with the revelers?
A: Performing CPR, if I have to.
Q: St. Patrick is said to be the most popular saint in all of Christendom. How do you explain that?
A: I think it’s mostly the booze.
Q: Corned beef helps, too. And I see you’ve ordered one of O’Doherty’s famous corned beef sandwiches. Isn’t St. Paddy worried about his cholesterol?
A: Corned beef isn’t meat. It’s more like a sacrament.
Q: I just noticed that you’ve got an advertisement for Guinness beer stuck to the front of your priestly hat. A bit tacky, wouldn’t you say?
A: A Nike swoosh would be. But Guinness is divine.
Q: No argument there. Switching topics, however, is it true St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland?
A: Total myth. I never drove any snakes out of Ireland.
Q: Dang. I was hoping you might do something about ridding the reptiles out of City Hall.
A: I did come with this.
Q: For the record, St. Patrick just handed me what looks like a wanted poster. On it is a very unflattering photo of Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan, who called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee a “lying whore” in an anti-tax publication.
A: Fagan needs to repent!
Q: To quote from the poster: “Fagan the Pagan” is wanted for “kidnapping, slavery, tax evasion, ill humor, blasphemy against civil authorities & more.” That’s sort of rough, isn’t it?
A: Fagan really is the Celtic word for pagan.
Q: And that makes it OK?
A: I don’t know what the Celtic word for weasel is.
Q: You are definitely on a comedy roll, Paddy. Will you be going back to your Irish grave after the holiday?
A: I want to stay alive a while longer.
Q: To enjoy the sights of Spokane?
A: To see the Zags win a national championship.
Q: You’re not the only one praying for that, pal.