Dad You Be Killin Em: Michael Schnipper

June 13, 2012

We have so much to thank our fathers for. In addition to teaching us how to ride bikes and be good sports, they’ve also been our sagely guides through life. As a small token of our affection, we’re counting down to Father’s Day (this Sunday, heads up!) by celebrating our dads’ style, wit and wisdom.

What did your dad like to wear? What I mostly remember my dad wearing was suits. He was a lawyer, first for unions and then in entertainment (ABC and then ESPN for the last 20 or so years of his career) and in the ’80s and ’90s, lawyers wore suits to work. My dad used to go to Joseph A. Banks and get suits made for him. He still routinely praises the glory of a shirt cut for your body. At some point, though, formal dress codes in the office began to erode. I remember it started with "casual Friday" which, as a concept, now seems straight out of a Cathy cartoon. His casual look was khakis and polo shirts, and eventually that became the five day a week standard. Since he's retired, that's remained pretty much consistent. A couple of years ago, my dad lost a good deal of weight but was wearing all his old clothes and they were so balloonish that it looked silly. I took him shopping at J. Crew and I remember him coming out of the dressing room with a pair of pants one size down and they still looked huge. Then he went another size down and they were still big. I tried to get him to keep going (I'm not talking skinny jeans here or anything, but neither my father nor I are particularly tall, so the less horizontal your pants make you, the better), but he wasn't comfortable with any more slimness. Still, his pants are way too big for him. A few weeks ago he stopped by the FADER office wearing a bright pink polo shirt and that got a lot of attention from the style team.

What music did he listen to? The Beatles and the oldies radio station (Big D 103). My dad played trumpet at Columbia and then in the National Guard, too, and would occasionally bust out his horn and play, but he was never really much of a jazz fan. My dad's a plot guy. He reads a lot of mystery novels, was a history major, and his taste in music is similar, big melodies, crescendos and choruses. Still, when I was 13 and first getting into punk rock and hardcore, he would drive me and my friends to shows in New Haven and was game enough to listen. Unfortunately it never rubbed off. A couple of years ago he bought a beater old red convertible with a tape player. The only cassette in there is the Beach Boys greatest hits.

What would he say? Does he have a favorite phrase or saying? Something anecdote-y. This isn't quite a saying, but it's what people remember hearing from him (pun that will shortly reveal itself intended). Every night after eating dinner, my dad sneezes. It's not every night at six PM or every night right after the sunset, but every night after he has finished with whatever food is on his plate. It's absurdly loud and powerful, like some kind of reverse nostril vortex, and it happens three or four times in a row. Then he pauses for ten seconds and sneezes one final time. In terms of actual words, he loves corny jokes like most dads and will sprinkle in some Yiddish very occasionally, but most of his discussions, especially post-retirement, are of the do what makes you happy ilk. My dad was born in 1947, so his life has spanned a lot of different generations and just general iterations of America, and I think in a lot of ways he's grown with it and found himself happiest when he allows himself to not be stressed and he tends to use a lot of his words to my sister and me articulating that and trying to impart the need for an equilibrium between a strong desire for fulfillment and the ability to kinda just chill out and not worry about it. He also likes to snore super loud.

Dad You Be Killin Em: Michael Schnipper