Every time I have made the comment “I don’t know if I have lived yet,” it is usually connected with some sort of crazy reference, I’m not always serious. That all changed when I saw him on a Thursday night at Buffalo Wild Wings. He rolled in with a tank, oxygen hooked up to his nose, and a confidence that I one day can only hope to experience. He is an older man, around his early seventies, with slicked back gray hair, and a slight slouch to his posture. And he is my new hero.
I’ve seen him before. I think it was at Toby’s, quite possibly one of the smokiest bars in Wichita Falls, although I haven’t been to many on the other side of town. I saw his tank, filled with oxygen, and I couldn’t help but wonder what this guy was all about.
I only have one grandpa who is still alive (unless you want to count my step-grandfather), however, he is particularly young, closing in on 60. I don’t think I’d ever see him at any bar, much less see him awake past the hour of 11 o’clock. Something about seeing someone so old out in the condition that he was in baffled me. It was a beer commercial in the making. Nothing was going to stop this guy from living life to what he considered the fullest, not even contaminated oxygen.
Buffalo Wild Wings on a Thursday night is kind of crazy. There are a numerous amount of college aged kids out, a majority of whom are drunk or at least on the one way train to getting there. Karaoke blares over the sports bar, with people trying to yell over it just to carry on conversation, needless to say, it’s loud. But just when you think that this scene is too wild for a man who looks like he once wrote its definition, he arrives, wheeling in his oxygen tank, with a subtle, yet steady aura circulating around his aged frame.
He comes in by himself, but it doesn’t always stay that way. If social hierarchy had an administration, he’d be in it. Seventy years of life will do that to you. He knows how to work a crowd, in the same way that good waiters and waitresses work their tables. He’s smooth, funny, and doesn’t bring dullness to a conversation.
I don’t feel sorry for him like I used to. He’s shown me, through my observations, that he is way cooler than I am. He talks to more ladies, carries an oxygen tank, drinks beer like he is 25, and on top of that still has the balls to grab the mic and dazzle everybody with his karaoke skills. This past Thursday he just got even a little bit cooler. I found out that he was a magician.
Some friends and I had heard that he did magic tricks. We didn’t know for sure, but we caught him as he was walking by. “I’ll be back, I’ve got to go to the bathroom,” he told us. A few minutes later he returned and said that he needed to get his deck of cards from his table and that he would be back. He went to his table and sat down, for around 15 minutes. We didn’t think he was coming back, until he finally did.
He had a magic trick for each of us, making us all feel equally stupid when he picked the right card or pulled a coin from behind our ears. His stories matched his magic skills and for those five minutes I felt like I didn’t know what the concept of reality was. I had been a sucker for his illusions, feeling baffled because I couldn’t catch him in his sleight of hands.
“What’s your name,” I asked. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a business card. “I’m Gallagher the Great. If you ever have any parties or small get togethers give me a call, I do shows. If you don’t get your monies worth, you don’t have to pay me.” With that we thanked him for the few tricks he showed us and he went on his way. I then began to think of all the parties that I could have, just to see this guy do some more magic. I would party like 8 times a month, with this guy being the headline each and every time, and I wouldn’t be sorry for it. Then, and only then would I almost be able to say that I was close to being as cool as Gallagher, but no where nearly as great.
So if you see ol’ Gallagher out buy him a beer, heck, buy him two, and then have him pull some change from behind your ears so you can pay for it.