When I was a kid, we got to choose our birthday dinners and anything was fair game.
It was the one time nothing was off limits, which drove my five sisters crazy because every year I chose the exact same dinner: cheeseburgers.
The reason for my passion for the humble burger was the way my mom cooked them.
Because there were so many of us, she cooked them in her big electric fry pan using the cheapest possible beef.
As a result of this method, she was essentially simmering the burgers in beef fat.
As the meat cooked and the amount of grease increased, the burgers were almost submerged in grease.
I don't use this method, but when I do crave a cheeseburger, I want something good enough to make me forget about the burgers of my youth.
That craving hit today, so I found a burger-loving friend to accompany me to the Belvidere for one of their superb specimens.
Some publication recently named their burger one of RVA's best and I'd have to agree.
It was the first thing I ever tried at the Belvidere last August and it's lost none of its appeal six months later.
Is it that crusty ciabatta roll they use? The Cheddar-less cheese choices (smoked Gouda, feta, fresh, Parmesan, mozzarella, bleu)? The perfectly caramelized onions? That aioli?
In any case, we both happily had cheeseburgers even though it's nowhere near my birthday.
He had the sweet potato fries but I had the updated starch, roasted root veggies.
This was a cheeseburger meal about as far from my mom's version as could be; my arteries probably weren't hardening at quite the same rate, either.
Gallery 5 was doing their monthly free film showing and tonight it was Beautiful Boxer, preceded by a demonstration of Muay Thai kickboxing to familiarize the audience with the sport we were about to see.
With little knowledge of martial arts, I was intrigued enough to want to see it.
It had a certain grace, but clearly required a lot of strength; both fighters were winded by the end of the demonstration.
The documentary about a transvestite who became a kick boxer in order to earn enough money to pay for a sex-change operation was beautifully shot in Thailand and Japan.
The irony of a woman trapped in a man's body having to take up such a physical and potentially lethal sport for the sake of future happiness was touching and painful at the same time.
Once he began wearing makeup in the ring, he had to deal with skepticism about his true sexuality, charges of hypocrisy for the sake of self-promotion and even public derision.
A friend at Gallery 5 had told me months ago that this was a must-see film and I understand now why he felt so strongly about showing it; the film had deservedly won numerous film festival awards.
My only issue with the film was that for a squeamish type like me, much of the violence in the fight scenes was difficult to watch.
Heads snapping, aching-looking falls, blood spurting, oh my!
Good thing I'd bulked up with that cheeseburger beforehand the better to handle all that physicality.