Who has influenced you the most?

My hero is not the world’s hero. He is not graced with fleetness of foot, excessive charm, or vast amounts of wealth. He neither asks for nor receives much attention or help from others, and he certainly does not limit himself to the confines of normality. To me, however, he is the prime example of patriarchal perfection, and it is precisely his idiosyncrasies that make him so valuable to me.

My father, perhaps the most natural and classic humorist I have ever encountered, has filled my life with hilarity and love. Oftentimes we have debates for weeks on topics like exactly what composes a salad -- we have still not figured it out -- or what differences there are between a sweatshirt and a jacket. These seemingly meaningless debates are effective ways of interacting with each other, and I am glad to say that we like to battle our wits daily, sharpening our minds with clever retorts.

It is my father whom I credit with the greatest influence in my life, as my current pattern of existence is heavily based upon his mental and moral values. It is my father who instilled in me an everlasting love of reading. For the first seven or so years of my life, he tirelessly -- and, to my delight, animatedly -- read aloud a countless number of...

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