I might've expected to hear this when I went to visit Bridgett Patricia Monahan, an Irish girl through and through and a Sun City resident who turned 95 this month. The plan was to gain an insider's perspective on the day celebrated worldwide on Sunday. You know, the day when everyone wears green to avoid being pinched. The day when shamrocks are magical. The day when leprechauns romp, and Irish pubs are full.
Depends on who you talk to, apparently. Even Bridgett -- or Patty, as friends and family call her -- says that although she enjoys the day set aside to honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, she doesn't have many memories of "little people" or Irishmen chugging beer.
"The only thing I remember is that it was a holy day," she said. "We liked it because it was a holiday from school. Everyone went to mass."
Patty was born in Dublin on March 4, 1918. Forget the images of a cottage in the rolling green hills. She lived in her grandfather's house in the suburbs. No parties on St. Patrick's Day. No parades. Nothing special about the color green, either.
"I don't know where they got that," she said, relaxing in her easy chair in the mobile home she has occupied since the late 1980s. "Maybe because people used to wear a sprig of shamrock on their lapels. There are shamrocks all over Ireland."
Patty's father moved to America when she was a young girl. At age 14, she arrived in New York with the rest of her family to start a new life. She thinks maybe that's where the legends of rowdy St. Patrick's Day celebrations began.
"The Irish immigrants were homesick and they wanted to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, so they started having dinners and dances," she recalled.
But no green beer?
"Maybe a touch of Guinness," she said. "But if I have anything, it's a little Irish Whiskey."
Patty can tell you about the legend of St. Patrick, a Frenchman who was sold into slavery in Ireland at age 16 in the first century. After escaping, he returned years later, dedicating his life to religious reform in Ireland.
But just when you think that's as good as the story gets, the subject of leprechauns comes up again. Had to ask, you know.
"When I was a girl, I heard stories from my grandfather," she said. "He told me he'd seen leprechauns. He'd have a couple Guinness' and tell us stories. Said he'd seen 'em everywhere. I didn't believe him.
"But what they really talked about was the banshees."
Banshees? As in the phrase my mom used to tell us when we were kids: "You kids are running around like a bunch of wild banshees"?
According to Irish legend, banshees were Irish female spirits that would appear as an omen of death.
"It's supposed to be an old lady with long hair," Patty said. "She only comes around when someone's going to die. She used to cry and scream. That's where they get the saying, 'scream like a banshee.' "
You learn something every day. Today, I learned that just like a lot of other traditions, St. Patrick's Day is based in fact, but has plenty of myth as well.
But that's the fun of it, right Patty? I mean, aren't you going to go out and party on Sunday?
"Depends on if I get an invite," she said. Maybe my daughter will cook corned beef for me."
Happy St. Patrick's Day, Patty. Happy St. Patrick's Day, one and all.