For several years, my little sister had ballet on Saturdays, and while she was dancing, Mom went fabric shopping. They’d be gone all day, eating out at a restaurant together. These were the best Saturdays of my youth, not because they were gone, but because Dad and I would be “baching-it.” 

Baching-it meant we’d be behaving, essentially, like bachelors.  

Dad would hold up a finger, “What’s the one rule? First work, then play.” We’d typically start with something in the garage or the back yard, anything that required heavy-lifting. Any physical work the other family members weren’t strong enough to do was on our list. 

It was rough work, involving lots of sweating, and panting and when injury struck, definitely swearing. Loudly, and it was only all right because the gentler ones of us weren’t there to hear it. “We won’t tell Mom,” was the agreement.

If we still had energy, we’d shoot hoops. Dad loved basketball and so did I, up until they changed the rules about dribbling. It was a better, more challenging sport, back then. 

Dad would call me his partner, like we were cowboys. Never mind that I was a girl. That wasn’t yet relevant. 

As reward for our work, Dad would prepare heaping plates of very special food, the kind we could only eat while baching-it. We each had two hot dogs smothered in chili beans, topped with a mountain of grated sharp cheddar. I do believe it was the entire block, divided in half. We’d chug malt sodas and watch Perry Mason, first black and white episodes, then color. 

We’d shower and get into clean clothes after food, before the girls returned from shopping and ballet. I’d go to bed with spent muscles and the satisfaction of having used them well.