The cheesesteak-for-breakfast actually started at 3:53 Monday morning. No, not the eating of it. That wasn't for nearly six more hours.
TigerBlog's phone buzzed at him in the middle of the night, which usually means either really good news (that can't wait) or really bad news (that also can't wait). TigerBlog looked at his phone and saw that this was neither.
This time, it was his friend Charlie, who had been his roommate his senior year in college. Now, more than 30 years later, TB still hears from Charlie on a weekly basis.
Charlie lives in Jacksonville. A Wharton School grad, Charlie is a businessman, running a few of his own, and he comes up to this area for a convention this week each year. He's always met TB back at Geno's for a cheesesteak, though it's always been for lunch.
His flight this year was supposed to get to Philadelphia at 11, which would have put him at Geno's around noon. Perfect, right?
Ah, but the weather did not cooperate. Because the forecast was awful (really bad winds, lots of rain), Charlie changed his flight to get in earlier. Then he texted TigerBlog, at 3:53 am, to inform him of the change and give him the new details.
TigerBlog, though, was already awake, so he texted Charlie back immediately. It's hard to tell which one of them was more surprised by the exchange.
Anyway, Charlie's text said he'd be getting in at 8. That put him at Geno's around 9.
TigerBlog gave Charlie the option of meeting someplace that had breakfast and a roof, but Charlie said no, it was cheesesteaks or nothing. If you're wondering what time Geno's opens, the answer isn't really clear, since it never actually closes. As in ever.
Charlie said that he would be there with a co-worker and a friend who worked in the area. TigerBlog had never met either.
TB pulled up to Geno's a little before 9:30. Charlie and the co-worker were already there, and then, as they all said hello, a well-dressed man in a well-coordinated outfit that included a tie, purple sweater and classy overcoat walked up to join them. He stood about 5-8 or so.
As Charlie introduced TigerBlog as his roommate senior year at Penn, the well-dressed man reached out his hand, shook TB's and said "I'm Howard Levy. Nice to meet you."
TigerBlog's first thought was "huh? what?" In fact, he asked him to repeat it.
TigerBlog, of course, laughed.
Howard Levy, the one that TigerBlog has known for more than 20 years, stands nearly seven-feet, or about 16 or so inches taller than this Howard Levy.
The Howard Levy that Princeton basketball fans know is a 1985 graduate and then a long-time assistant coach with the Tigers before becoming the head coach at Mercer County Community College.
Howard is the all-time leader in field goal percentage in Ivy League history - not just Princeton history - and by a fairly wide margin. His .647 is first, followed by Yale's David Tompkins (.619) and then Princeton's Alan Williams (.614).
Very few players who ever played for Pete Carril made the kind of Carril progress that Howard Levy did. He played very little as a freshman, but he went on to become an All-Ivy center as a senior. In addition to the Ivy record for field goal percentage, Levy also won the Bunn Award in 1985, as essentially the team MVP.
During his time as an assistant coach under Bill Carmody, John Thompson and Joe Scott, Howard helped Princeton to four NCAA tournaments (1997, 1998, 2001, 2004) and three NITs (1999, 2000, 2002).
Howard was a very underrated part of those coaching staffs, but he was an important one nonetheless. He is intense, focused, smart and ultra-competitive as a coach; he is genuine, confident, funny, understated and fiercely loyal as a human being. TB could also describe the three head coaches Howard worked with at Princeton the exact same way.
Actually, he could describe Charlie the same way, substituting "as a businessman" for "as a coach."
TigerBlog saw Howard play for Princeton against Penn when he was a student. So did Howard Levy. The one from yesterday, that is.
When TigerBlog explained to the other Howard Levy that he had a good friend also named Howard Levy, Howard (the other one) said yes, he played at Princeton. TB was wearing a Sacred Heart sweatshirt, so it's not like he gave away the Princeton part.
How, TB wondered, did he know that?
Howard explained that he grew up in Scranton and went to the University of Scranton but that he came to the Palestra to see Howard Levy play for Princeton because, well, "he had the same name."
Yes. He did. TigerBlog spent much of the rest of the day wondering if he'd ever met anyone who had the same name as someone else he knew. He's sure he must, but he can't think of too many. He's met Amherst men's lacrosse coach Jon Thompson, but that doesn't count, since it's not spelled the same way.
He's definitely never met anyone else who has his name. You don't see too many people named TigerBlog.
What about you? Ever met anyone who has the same name as you? Ever see something with a fictional character who has your name?
Let TB know. He'd love to hear from you.
It can even be at 3:53 am.
As for the cheesesteak breakfast, it was nice, though not something TB would regularly do. His doctor probably wouldn't be okay with it either.
It was good to see Charlie. And good to see Howard Levy.
As it always is.