Last weekend a man from Saraland said he was “bored,” so he decided to go downtown and dismantle and steal one of the large oyster statues from the Oyster Trail. And right in front of the police precinct, no less.

I guess you can see how one might be sitting around with too much time on his or her hands (as he told authorities), when all of a sudden a (very dim) light bulb goes off and he thinks, “Maybe I should go downtown and steal me one of dem dad-burned oyster statues.”

It is wonderful the statue has been returned, but I fear my kids could also be on the same path as this wayward Saralandian. They, too, often express feelings of boredom and having “nothing to do,” despite their mountains of toys, numerous handheld devices, Netflix accounts, iTunes movie collections, books and access to the terrible place known as “outside” and the myriad “totally boring” activities that can be done there.

Bless their hearts. How long will it be until they graduate to becoming giant-mollusk-replica thieves? Is it only a matter of time before I see my own sweet-but-oh-so-bored baby boy screaming obscenities at pretty young reporters on the TV during his own perp walk?

Fearing the worst and that the kids would also find prison dull and uninteresting, Frank and I decided to get our perpetually bored children out of the house for some good old-fashioned fun entertainment, and boy, did we find some cool events — some we have already enjoyed and one we plan to hit this weekend — you know, for the sake of the children.

I’ll let you in on our finds, in case you have any bored, burgeoning bivalve burglars on your hands as well….

Cure for days so glum at the Exploreum
During one of the weekend deluges of late, the combination of too much Halloween candy and stir craziness forced us out of the house. With so much chocolate in our bellies, we decided we also needed it in our brains, so we headed down to see the new “Chocolate!” exhibit at the Exploreum.

The Exploreum is yet another one of those wonderful Mobile assets I take for granted and forget to utilize. And every time I do make it back down there, I kick myself for allowing so much time in between visits. It really is such a great facility.

The “Chocolate!” exhibit was really beautiful and even smells of it. I think Frank and I enjoyed it more than the kids, as it was really more of a historical journey, and they wanted to get back downstairs to the “My BodyWorks” exhibit, which is really interactive and includes a wall of buttons you could push to play different “body sounds.” The 6-year-old boy must have pushed the “fart” one 30 times. So many times, in fact, Frank began to notice the subtle nuances in the flatulence.

“Did you notice they have at least two different versions of the fart?”
I did not.

The fair. Oh my, indeed.
So I have been hearing about the great things they’ve been doing out at The Grounds, formerly the Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds, for a while now. With a new name, new image and revamping, folks have been saying how impressive the transformation has been. But other than popping in quickly to the Christmas Jubilee, I hadn’t been out there to see said changes with my own peepers, and I hadn’t been to the fair itself in at least a decade, which was the last time I participated in the Media Olympics for Team Lagniappe.

So this past Monday night I finally made my way to The Grounds to once again compete with my fellow Lagniappers for media bragging rights. We came in second, but I am pretty sure our resident urban cowgirl Brooke Mathis’ mechanical bull-riding skills should have garnered us the top prize, but we won’t be sore losers, I guess. Congrats, iHeartRadio. Grrr.

Anyway, after we took home the silver, they were kind enough to give us wristbands to check out the midway. And wow. This is not the kind of county fair I remember going to as a kid. Even though it had been raining for days, “the grounds” themselves were almost perfect. I was expecting a mud pit, but nope. You know you are getting old when you notice impressive drainage.

The rides for both the kids and adults were really nice and looked as if they may not throw you to your death, and were all operated by polite, cute, college-age-looking kids. What did they do with the carnies? It really threw me off a bit at first to have someone who didn’t look like the poor man’s Tommy Lee belting the kiddos into the flying dinosaur ride. No offense to the carnies or Tommy Lee.

And one of the workers who was walking around even noticed Frank talking to Anders, who was “a little bit nervous” about going into one of the fun houses. She said to Frank, “They’ll stop it, if he gets scared.” Whaaaaatttt? In my day, if you started hurling on the Scrambler or the Tilt-A-Whirl, you would be doing so until whatever Def Leppard song was blaring on the speaker was over and the ride stopped.

But no hurling was going to happen here, as the food choices were great, too. In addition to the traditional fair fare, they also had several local offerings. I know I saw trucks or set-ups from Mama’s, Dick Russell’s, The Hungry Owl and La Cocina.

Frank woke up pondering what kind of cheese La Cocina had put in the quesadillas — which he had two of, by the way.

“I’m sure it’s the white kind they all use,” I said.

“Yes, but it seemed to have a different flavor profile from the usual ones you get. It was so good.”

That man of mine knows his cheese, from the flavors to the sounds of “cutting it.”

Anyway, color me impressed with the fair. We will be back and not just to take the gold in the next Media Olympics. That’s right, iHeartRadio. It’s on.

The world is your oyster (and it’s in your backyard)
If you are a foodie and/or lover of oysters, you should definitely head down to Gulf Shores this Saturday to the Oyster Cook-Off at The Hangout. You can check out all of the details in the guide located in the center of this issue, but it is really a fun event. They have award-winning and nationally recognized chefs from all over the country cooking our favorite saltwater clam in every way imaginable. I’m talking James Beard award winners and Food Network stars. And there’s craft beer, good champagne, Bloody Marys and live music.

I should hear no mentions of being “bored” from my little folks, and I hope they will start to develop a lifelong love of oysters, as their parents have. Well, as long as they don’t love them in the same way as a bored man from Saraland does.