My father likes to brag that he has 1,000 nicknames for me, and I think his estimate is not far off. They range from “Sweetart” like the candy to “Carla.” They make me crazy, but I have no power to stop him. I have tried to break him of the habit of identifying himself when he calls me. Between caller ID and his distinctive voice, I know who it is by the time he says, “Ashley?” his usual greeting to me. Trying to short-circuit the inevitable, I would say, “Hi, Dad” or “Hola, Papa!” But he always insists on identifying himself. “This is your faaaa-ther” he says dragging the vowel out and using a vaguely Boston accent to make the pronouncement. Somehow I feel the New England based wood working shows he watches on PBS every Satruday are to blame, and breify get annoyed with both my father and Norm Abrams. He’s done this every time he calls for years now. It’s our little patter. Just like every time I come home he will joke about how it’s good to have me back under his roof and the influence of his guiding hand. He’s got a million of ’em.
Since I went to college, I’ve proved quite resistant to the wisdom he’s tried to give me. I stay up too late, I had male roommates, and most notably, I wear very high heels. I have a collection of shoes with heels that range from 2.5 to 4 inches. “You’re scaring all the men away!” he tells me when I put on shoes that make me 6 feet tall. “Men should be braver” I usually tell him.
Dad laughs whenever I give him a particularly sassy answer. Every once in a while he describes my personality as “salty,” but I can tell he approves. I’m pretty sure I haven’t turned out the way he expected his daughter to be. When I was little, my grandmother kept me well stocked in sweet, hand-embroidered dresses, and among those 1,000 nicknames are both “little girl” and “baby girl.” But he’s always teased my brother and I, giving us a hard time, and as a result we learned to give as good as we got. It’s partially his fault that I turned out as salty as I did, and I don’t think he’d have it any other way.
This year, I’ve sent my appreciation for all those years under his roof in the form of a clock radio and in his honor I’ll spend the entire day in a nice sensible pair of ballet flats.