My Brown M&M

This post is dedicated to Sean, who is more productive and has more ideas then 27 people combined when chemically charged with coffee…according to himself.

Do you remember Van Halen? Stupid question, but do you? Well they were much smarter than they dressed. Back in the day they were known to make ridiculous requests of venues that they played at, but it turned out to be a test and not just weird:

Van Halen had a notable effect on the modern rock music tour with their use of the concert technical contract rider. They were one of the first bands to use contract riders to specify a “wish list”, a practice now used throughout the music industry. They pioneered extensive requirements including power availability and stage construction details. The band’s demands were not limited to technical issues; their now-infamous rider specified that a bowl of M&M’s, with all of the brown M&M’s removed, was to be placed in their dressing room. According to David Lee Roth, this was listed in the technical portion of the contract not because the band wanted to make capricious demands of the venue, but rather as a test of whether the venue had actually read and properly honored the terms of the contract, as it contained other requirements involving legitimate safety concerns. If the bowl was present, then the band members could safely assume the other, legitimate, items in the technical rider were being fulfilled to their satisfaction. Conversely, if the bowl was missing, or brown M&M’s were present, then the band members would be within their rights to have the venue inspect the work, ask it be redone, etc. Their concern for safety was real, as in their earlier tours, not only was equipment damaged, but several members of their road crew were nearly electrocuted, both due to inadequate safety and preparation on the part of the local venue.

I was going to go through and explain this whole bit, but Wikipedia did a fantastic job summing it up. Thanks guys!

What does this have to do with me? Well I too have a brown M&M up my sleeve and I didn’t realize until it was pointed out to me today. It’s my first name. Long explanation or short explanation?

Long Explanation

and reasons why not to name your child  Jr. or III

I’m a junior. I’m actually really close to being a “III”. My grandfather is Robert William Catanese, my dad is Robert Anthony Catanese, and I’m Robert Anthony Catanese Jr. It’s really complicated, but my Gpa goes by Bob, my dad goes by Tony, and then somehow I end up with Anthony. No biggie right? Just a generational suffix. They are used every day.

This made growing up confusing. I knew my name was Anthony, but I had no idea what the deal with Robert was or that it really even existed until I was about 10. That’s when when standardized state tests started. What’s the easiest question on that test for you? “What’s your first name?” For me it wasn’t. I just stared at it and had no idea what to put. If I put the wrong name, Florida would say, “Who’s this kid and why isn’t he at NASA?! He’s a genius!” Maybe a bit exaggerated…as you can tell by my overuse of elipses and spelling errors.

For awhile I thought Anthony was a nickname for Robert like Chuck for Charles. That made sense to me that my dad had a nickname for a nickname, but not the other way around. See this is why NASA was a big LOL earlier.

This came in handy when I hit about 19. I was living in Orlando and was living off pb&j and sleeping on my friends floor for a few months. I had a tiny bit of extra money, but this usually went to beer. I was 19…what more did you expect. Each week my bank account kept getting dangerously close to over-drafting. So I came up with a solution that the bank didn’t like and I later found out was a no no. When my account would get down to $3 or so and I needed money for a few more days, I would go to the ATM and withdraw $100. Instant personal loan and I would pay it back in a couple days when I got paid. Big learning moment for me. This worked for about a month and then the bank started charging me enormous fees. They suggested I take out an actual personal loan that would act as overdraft protection. How could I possibly qualify for this?

This is where the magic of the suffix comes in. They pulled my credit and BOOOM! I apparently owned a bunch of homes, a few boats, and credit that was as old as me. They were confused, but I knew what was up. My dad’s credit had been cross-wired with mine and I now had the best credit in the world. This literally saved me. I was a very hungry teenager and luckily I had already learned my lesson about owing money.

Keep reading for the rest of the explanation…

Short Explanation

How does my first name correlate with the brown M&M’s of Van Halen? It’s because I actually go by my middle name and not my legal name of Robert. This is a test for the people that I know. Whenever I signup for a service I make sure to tell the person that I go by Anthony. In the system they list me as Robert, but when they know me they call me Anthony. This is how I know whether I’m receiving automated emails, snail mail, or a personal message from the people I know. It helps me filter the people who abuse the system and the people who actually do a good job about knowing their customers. If they are thoughtful enough to remember what I go by then I can trust the information is probably good stuff.

I always feel like I’m in a disguise when people call me Robert. It’s a really weird feeling, but it’s what makes me Anthony.

You knew it was coming: Van Halen – Jump (released the year I became Robert)