I knew him through a friend and, after hearing the stories and, later becoming their friend on Facebook, I just couldn't believe this person was real.
I thought he had to be a character that a conglomeration of people have been writing for, for - checks "Kyle"'s Facebook, over ten years. No way that was one person. That brain did too many things to be a single human.
Like, I don't even know how to explain what it was about the Kyle stories and posts that made me feel this way. I just knew he wasn't real.
Then one day, my comedian friend Alex posted a photograph of himself in front of a long-abandoned restaurant in the Mills 50 area. He was beaming and shaking hands with another fella, while brandishing some papers toward the camera.
They both looked so happy!
The caption read something to the effect of:
"Congrats to us! We just signed papers for the newest spot in town, Labeouf's!"
And the other fella was tagged!
AND IT WAS KYLE!
You know what though? I still wasn't convinced.
They created a Facebook page for this restaurant (that wasn't real) and created this whole fictional world based around this thing that didn't exist. I LOVED IT.
I didn't realize it at the time, but what I loved the most about it was the world building of it all. They had the same kind of imagination I did and that's not something you see so violently publicly in other adults. I really gravitated toward the whole LaBouef's energy and vibe.
Then we made friends with a bartender at Lil Indies. It was our big drinkin' days, so we saw Kate pretty regularly and she had a good brain and quick wit so we became fast friends.
Regularly enough that she got an invite to my "Bottle of Champagne for Entry" birthday pool party.
Please forgive my memory, SDAM is no joke and like I said before it was my big drinkin' days so details are fuzzy at best.
One thing I do recall is Kate sitting on the side of our pool, telling us she was both Alex's roommate and Kyle's girlfriend. Champagne Jacki could not believe it.
And, aside from starting a Lollipop Business with my dearest tall ginger redneck friend and drinking cappers of jaeger in the pool with Alex, the only other thing I remember clearly about this party was repeatedly asking Kate if she was being serious.
Because I still didn't believe Kyle was a real living, breathing human being.
See? Alex was kind of a Dadaist of a comedian. The first time I saw him perform (before we were friends) he performed his entire set facing the back of the stage.
It made me feel so alive! But also - like, I got the vibe that Alex could create an elaborate prank like this with his roommate (I believed that part no problem).
Speaking of feeling alive, Alex and another local comedian had a show they would do sometimes called "Life's a Gift" and it was part comedy/part audience participation/all warm fuzzies with brains. I loved it a lot and if they ever come together and perform it again, I hope I get to be there. Maybe at the Venue at the Professor Haus?
Okay, so let me organize all this stuff for the end of the story.
I am Jacki. Mickey is Mickey.
Alex is our comedian friend who is roommates with Kate who Mickey and I met at Lil Indies. Kate is "dating" "Kyle" who is Alex's "Best Friend".
Fast forward to a few weeks after my birthday, Alex messages me:
"Can we have a Labeouf's Customer Appreciation Pool Party" at your house this weekend.
I couldn't answer yes fast enough.
OH! I forgot to tell you that, at my champagne pool party birthday party, Alex gifted me a Labeouf's shirt (home of the hot negroni) that I still love very much.
One of the hard things about throwing a party for a place that doesn't exist is that people think that also the party doesn't exist.
But it did. We tried to convince them, but there was a small turnout. The Labouef's customers that showed up were loyal AF patrons though.
I remember being intimidated by this one girl with severe bangs and knowing eyes because she was so comfortable with herself, especially her thoughts. She wasn't afraid to speak up or out about topics that might make normal people uncomfortable. I loved it - but I was scared of it, which I now understand was jealousy.
She still does this today and now I just love it. The jealousy has disappeared. I don't need it anymore.
At the party, Alex said he had a gift for Mickey and I for throwing a party for the customers of a fictional restaurant and brought out the wildcat painting pictured above.
"This is the first piece of art ever hung at Labeouf's."
(It was also one of the first pieces of art hung at the ProfHaus.)
But that wasn't the gift, y'all.
KYLE CAME TO THE PARTY.
I mean of course he did. He was half-owner of this fictional joint. I was so delighted that he was a real person and that his brain was as neat as I thought it was.
I've followed he and Kate's adventures ever since. They travelled crossed country in a van and settled in Portland, which seems like a perfect fit for them.
Right now, they are in the middle of a buildout for their very own cocktail bar, which also seems like a perfect fit for them.
Much like they are for each other too.
I'm so glad Kyle wasn't a fake-o.