Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sleeping With Walruses

David R. Meiselman was always a bit different, from the first day that TigerBlog met him back in 1983 in West Philadelphia. That was the day that TB met his five of his six best friends from college, all in about a three-minute span.

It began when an unmistakably New York voice was bellowing from out the window of the 22nd floor of High Rise South, one of the three 24-story dorms that form Superblock on the West Philadelphia campus (at least that's what it was called back then; who knows what it is today). TB ducked his head out the window to see Charlie Frohman staring over at him and Paul Glazer and Adam Baker looking up at him from the 21st floor.

"Who are you?" Frohman said. After answering that question, Frohman moved on to what year TB was in. When informed he was a junior, Frohman said: "Yeah? I'm a junior too. How come I don't know you?"

With the introduction to those three behind him, TigerBlog then met two people whose room was opposite the elevator. One was Ed Mikus Jr., a Wharton School student who double majored in biology as well, just because he thought it'd be interesting. The other was Mikus' roommate, Meiselman, the only folklore major TB met in college. Actually, it's David R. Meiselman, or at least it was back then, when he preferred to be recognized by that most formal greeting.

After graduation, the group began to go in its separate directions, to write its individual life stories. Frohman, Mikus, Glazer and Baker were Wharton School types, and they have gone on to vastly different careers in the business world.

Glazer started out in California, relocated to Israel and now is back in New York as the head of Glazer Capital Management. Baker has stayed in the New York/New Jersey area and now runs his own travel agency; he is a frequent visitor to Jadwin Gym for Princeton-Penn games.

Frohman lives in Florida, where he owns several manufacturing companies. TB hears from Frohman several times a week. Mikus is a New Yorker as well, working in something called mortgage backed securities; when TB asked him what the first thing he does when he gets to work is, Mikus said: "I check out"

And Meiselman? There are so many stories that TB can't remember the ones that are real and the ones that are legend. Did he really buy a plane ticket to China and home from India and take only $100 with him after graduation? TB thinks that one is true. TB does know that the last time he heard from Meiselman, it was a postcard from the Serengeti in Africa, and all it said on the back was "I'm at home in the jungle."

That was until last week, when Frohman and Mikus forwarded a link to a video depicting Meiselman's (now known as David Mercy) current career - viking. No, not Minnesota Viking. Actual Viking, as in sailing the north seas. David is the American with the heavy beard who in the beginning is sleeping with his head on the walrus. Just watch; it'll make more sense.

And TigerBlog? Well, shortly after he met those guys, he began working in the newspaper business and now has spent more than 20 years covering Princeton athletics, nearly all of which he has spent working here at HQ.

From that small space on the 21st and 22nd floors, that group of college friends has literally spread out around the world. Were TB able to go back to that day when he first heard Frohman out the window and asked each person what path he thought his professional life would take, how close would each have come to getting it right?

In short, how did we all get here? Going back before meeting those guys, TB had a roommate freshman year who was determined to be a doctor. Today he is Dr. Seth Rubin, obgyn. He was so focused on that from Day 1, and he achieved his goal.

Frohman knew early on he wanted to be in business and wanted to be the boss; today he is both. Glazer wanted to be in finance; he is.

On the other hand, there are those who take the convoluted path to their career. BrotherBlog, for instance, tried his hand at a number of different things before starting law school at 37. And TigerBlog had no idea that he was headed for a career in writing and athletic adminstration through his first two years of college.

The Princeton Department of Athletics is an interesting place, as it is the home to people with vastly different skill sets and careers. And those different careers bring with them completely different pressures and levels of expectation, all of this under the banner of Princeton Athletics.

There the coaches, of course, and their own backgrounds and expectations are wildly varied, as would be the case at a school with 38 varsity teams. Some were born to coach and have nothing else on their resume; others came to coaching after trying different careers. Bob Callahan, the longtime men's squash coach, was an IBM man for years before he came to coaching; Julie Shackford, the women's soccer coach, was a Division III head coach at 23.

There are also athletic trainers (not actually part of the Department of Athletics, but close enough), a grounds crew, a business office, a marketing department, a ticket office, administrators, a compliance staff, fundraisers, club and recreation sports people - even athletic communications types.

It's fascinating to TigerBlog how differently each of these groups views what they do and how differently each person's path to working here has been. Some are former college varsity athletes. Some are completely unathletic. Some, it has always struck TB, don't even like sports very much. Others spend their nights off going to other sporting events besides Princeton's. Some are kids just starting out; others are lifers.

MotherBlog used to tell TB that he could never make a career in sports, but she was wrong. In fact, you can make a career in just above anything, and the one piece of advice TB always gives those starting out is that you have to find something that interests you, because you're going to be doing it for a long time.

Not everyone has the same motivations, interests, desires. It results in a million different paths to go down. The people here at HQ have all reached this point at this time, regardless of where they started.

As for the friends from West Philadelphia, they all started in the same place - and have all found their own patch of ice on which to rest their head on a walrus.

Of course, only one of them was nutty enough to take that literally.


Anonymous said...

That's a wild video. He really has his head on the walrus.

Anonymous said...

as the mother of david meiselman a/k/a mercy now, i can say he is definitely an unusal person.

Charlie from NY said...

David R. Meiselman(aka Mercy) is the most unique individual I have ever met. He is the embodiment of the "I did it my way" song. We all have had enriched lives for knowing him.

hzl22 said...

David R. Meiselman. Man I miss that guy.

Anonymous said...

Yep. Is it nearly 6 months to the day that I last googled my old friend David and ended up here...I just love that guy. I think I remember every moment I ever spent with him. I hope he knows that I think of him 20 years later.