My father occasionally talks to me like I am four.
"Hello my little sweetie," he'll coo. "How's my Gabi-Goo?"
"Almost thirty," I'll reply, attempting to keep the corners of my mouth from turning into a certain smile. "Almost thirty and way too old to be spoken to like that."
This will not deter him. He will keep on, this time imitating the brief but apparently adorable speech impediment I had as a toddler, wherein I pronounced my L's as Y's:
"But you will always be my yittle sweetie! I yove you, yittle Gabi-Goo!"
"Dad! I am an adult!" I'll protest, but at this point I will be smiling too hard to disguise my glee. He will consider this an open invitation to reminisce out loud about the plethora of cute things I said as a child, to gush about how very proud he is of me and to inform me of all the people (generally members of his synagogue or extended family) who have recently said nice things about me.
Our relationship is not without complication, but I do realize I am absurdly lucky to have such a doting, affectionate father. Ask a woman my age about her relationship with her father and more often than not you'll find that it's iffy at best. Like most women, my teenage years were a rough time in our relationship, but now there are few people I enjoy more.
A few years ago, a woman who knew him from my hometown made a comment that having such an extraordinary father must make it impossible for me to find people to date because it's extremely hard to find anyone as wonderful as he is. At the time I thought it was an incredibly weird, presumptuous thing for her to say, and, while I still think the delivery of her message left much to be desired, the older I get the more I find that her core point was a valid one.
Because the truth is, if and when I find a man as funny, kind, brilliant and talented--someone who is as much of a mensch-- as my dad, I will likely pass out from shock. After which I'll hopefully come to, dust myself off and promptly marry him.