By Kirby Neumann-Rea • Of the News-Register • 

Back, and Forth: You don't need a mullet wig to enjoy the quirk around us

Kirby Neumann-Rea/News-Register##Members of the Lafayette  U honk! We drink!  entourage gather next to the sign that led to an estimated thousands of motorists’ greetings in response to the happy invitation.
Kirby Neumann-Rea/News-Register##Members of the Lafayette "U honk! We drink!" entourage gather next to the sign that led to an estimated thousands of motorists’ greetings in response to the happy invitation.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the strange and unusual around us — what you might call “quirk.”

Quirk is both quicksilver and quotidian. It can pass in an instant or stand everyday everywhere.

It’s truly a neutral term for that which is unusual and positive, yet hard to define. It can be defined one way, or in dozens of ways.

To me, quirk represents the surprising, unusual and distinctly individual. Yet that found in one place can be similar to that found in another.

Are quirks obvious where we live? Not really. You have to be on the lookout for them, or at least recognize them when you see them.

You see quirk in the downtown sidewalk art we recently profiled, and in the growing plethora of outdoor art that distinguishes this city. 

The fact we have both an Abe Lincoln and Ben Franklin bench is true quirk. And we have enough murals to qualify for mural city status.

Other places and things I find quirky:

* The mannequin peering out the second story window at Adams and Second streets. Has anyone else noticed it?

It’s wearing a swim cap and goggles, along with what appear to be plastic leis. And surprisingly, it appears in a window of the McMinnville Police Station.

* The silos outside Dayton, where someone had the inspiration to paint large wine bottles.

* The horse and moose sculptures at the south and east outskirts of McMinnville, on Highways 18 and 99W.

* The Sasquatch silhouette on a fence in Whiteson, the massive carved bear on Lafayette Avenue and the scary tree stump sculpture on South Pine near downtown Carlton.

To this newcomer, Alpine Avenue, with its funky archway and mixed-use vibe, is pure quirk. And it’s getting quirkier with the boutique tiny house motel and other developments on the horizon.

The entire Granary/Alpine section of town is the best possible quirk, made all the more so by:

* The serve-yourself mini gardens nurtured by Edible Yamhill, where vegetables and flowers abound.

* Art pieces that include the “Love Locks” fence, and the “For the Love Of” bike rack offered by Merrill Denney to the women in his life.

* Temporary art work with an ocean theme at Little Roots, where day camp youngsters this week created a vivid undersea scene. You’d think the kelp, coral and jaunty crab were real, but they actually consist of imaginatively employed insulation foam.

Quirk comes in other forms as well. Two readerboard messages this week pointed to this sensibility:

“If quizzes are quizzical, what are the tests?” — the Carlton Corners eatery in Carlton

“If weed puns are a sin, then I’ll see you inhale.” — the Smooth Roots cannabis shop in McMinnville

More quirk:

* An older Merrill Denney creation — a toothpaste-tube bike rack at the Mac Smiles dental office at Northeast Baker and Ninth streets.

* The red British callbox in Carlton.

* Old golf clubs, sold for $1 each on the honor system, outside the T & E General Store in Yamhill. The store itself is a proud emporium of quirk, for that matter.

* A donut shop and several other businesses you can define as hole-in-the-wall — and a large anchor business that displays quilts at downtown McMinnville’s busiest corner.

* The 747 airliner parked atop Evergreen’s Wings & Waves Waterpark.

It’s not a long list, but even quirk has its subtle side. So when you see it in action, and not just in static objects, you have to stop and take it in.

That brings me to the gang in the yard on Lafayette Avenue on Saturday.

Heading north, I spotted a bounce-house. Next to it was a group of people behind a four-by-eight sheet of plywood announcing, “U honk! We drink!”

I was on my way to cover Yamhill Derby Days, so couldn’t stop But I honked, of course.

About five hours later, on my way home, the Lafayette Avenue crew was still at it, exulting at the repeated honks. So I had to stop.

This was no birthday party or other “occasion.” It was just a group of friends having fun in a creative way on a Saturday afternoon that stretched into evening.

Nick and Jennifer Del-Planche invited friends, asked them all to safely park their cars, and offered to keep them supplied with food and drink. They raised cans of beer whenever they heard a honk, and plenty of motorists hit the horn.

“It’s about the amount of joy we caused today,” said Brian, who was only willing to provide a first name. “Twenty thousand honks. Well, you can say thousands — thousands of happy smiles and happy honks, all day long.”

“This is like an after-COVID get- together. Everyone’s free and happy and life is … starting to return to normal.”

Several guys wore mullet wigs and short-crop shirts. One had “U Honk We Drink” scrawled on his shirt.

“The mullets are standard issue,” Brian said. “If you don’t look like Alan Jackson, you’re pretty much out of here.”

“You gotta love it,” said friend Stephanie. “It’s your typical redneck party.”

Quirk as quicksilver, or Silver Bullet, or Coors, I suppose.

No doubt there were a few buzzes behind that fenced yard, but it appeared to me members of the crew were mostly out for some clear-eyed enjoyment. It was more, “You honk and we wave our beer can and whoop.”

In their day of quirk, this group found a way to mix revelry and old-fashioned friendship.

Contact Kirby Neumann- Rea at or 503-687-1291.


Don Dix

T & E is in Yamhill, not Gaston.

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