Ever wish you could escape the city's grind and just retire to your favorite uncle's mansion in the country? Unfortunately, life's not fair. We can't all be duPonts and Pulitzers. Blue blood? Some of us have favorite uncles who bounce between residences under the Singer Island Bridge and the rehab clinic. That's what's so great about pretending. Case in point: the Five-to-Nine Club at the National Croquet Center (700 Florida Mango Rd., West Palm Beach). On Thursdays after work there, you can order a bourbon on the rocks, play backgammon on the veranda, and tell all the yuppies that your great-great-grandfather was F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you're so motivated, grab a mallet and play a game of twilight croquet; free instruction begins not at 5 but at 4 p.m. Partake in the happy hour buffet or order from the cafe menu until the croquet center closes at 9 p.m. Call 561-478-2300.
Sometime after Pippi Longstocking lived at Villa Villekulla with her pet monkey, but before Angelica Pickles began stealing chocolate milk from Rugrats babies, there lived Ramona Quimby, the spunkiest girl on Klickitat Street. Ramona had "brown hair, brown eyes, and no cavities," according to her creator, author Beverly Cleary, who, we must say, wrote pretty sassily for a librarian from Yamhill, Oregon. In Cleary's books, the young Ramona torments her big sister, struggles with spelling, and nicknames a boy "Yard Ape." But she grows up, and "by the fourth grade, Ramona had learned to put up with teachers." Grab your favorite elementary-schooler and skip, scoot, or ride bikes to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (210 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale) for the stage production of Ramona Quimby. Performances are at 10 and 11:30 a.m., and tickets cost $3-11. Call 954-462-0222.
Sometimes, you're just in the mood to have your mind blown. See the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). The AAADT differs from many African-American dance troupes because of -- well, because of its 46-year history, its trillions of awards, and its tremendous popularity -- but also because of its emphasis on the "American." Said Ailey himself, "From his roots as a slave, the American Negro -- sometimes sorrowing, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful -- has touched, illuminated, and influenced the most remote preserves of world civilization. I and my dance theater celebrate this trembling beauty." Now, that's mind-blowing. Artistic Director Judith Jamison, a renowned former dancer and the second-most-famous person associated with the dance organization behind Ailey himself, leads the celebration at 2 and 8 p.m. today. The troupe also performs at 8 p.m. Friday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Call 954-462-0222.
Whatever your feelings about Yoko Ono's artwork (her 2001 exhibit featured a telephone that Ono would randomly call) or music, no one can call her boring. More than two decades after husband John Lennon's death, folks still try to write her off as some weird Japanese home wrecker who moved in on a pop music icon and led him down the road to freaky experimental art. But Yoko was an important figure in the art world before she even met John Lennon, and Lennon also dabbled in the arts before he met Yoko. In honor of Lennon's 64th year, Ono presents an exhibit of his artwork titled "When I'm Sixty-Four. " The collection features more than 100 original drawings created by Lennon in 1968-1980, signed Lennon albums, Beatles lyric manuscripts, and drawings John did for his son Sean before his death in 1980. Check out the last day of the exhibit at the Lincoln Road Mall in South Beach (1118 Lincoln Rd., between Alton and Lenox Avenues) at 12 p.m. The show is free, but there is a $2 suggested donation for Adopt-A-Classroom, a nonprofit group that gives financial support to teachers and students. Call 888-278-1969.
Move over, skaters. Here comes something leaner. It's Monday, and that means BMX bikers are allowed to bring their two-wheeled fury to the skate park at Quiet Waters Park (401 S. Powerline Rd., Deerfield Beach) from 7:45 to 9:45 p.m . Don't be intimidated; there will be plenty of two-wheeled wipeouts, too. Even if you can't pull off any tabletops, toboggans, or nose wheelies just yet, wear your pads and keep at it. You know what they say: If you're not falling, you're not challenging yourself. The park features 102 ramps and grind rails and costs $3 for members, $7 for nonmembers. Bikes are allowed on Sunday and Thursday evenings, 5:30 to 7:30. Call 954-360-1315.
Whooo! Mardi Gras! Beads! Whip out your yard dog cups and head down to Hollywood, because it's time for Fiesta Tropicale, just one of South Florida's many big, nasty, Mardi Gras celebrations. And tonight is Fat Tuesday on Hollywood Beach, so you know what that means. No, not an errant nipple in your eye -- well, that's always a possibility, even when it's not Mardi Gras. From noon until midnight, Hollywood Beach is rife with parades, live New Orleans-style jazz and blues, a Best Gumbo contest, Cajun cuisine, a masquerade and costume contest, kids' entertainment, and lots of drinks with names like the Hurricane, the Cajun Martini, and the Muddy River. The event is free. Call 954-926-3377 or visit www.mardigrasfiesta.com.