The Vine: February 22, 2017
See, my last name is Trump.
Back in the day, it was funny. Strangers would ask if we were related, and I'd joke that all of my relatives had great hair and no money. As far as we knew, Donald Trump was a harmless buffoon. It started to get weird when he became a serious candidate, but I white-knuckled it through the campaign and told myself it would be over soon.
Sars, it's not funny anymore. Now when I introduce myself, people flinch. I doubt that many of them actually think we're related, but I can see them worrying about it. I don't want to start every conversation with an angry disavowal of the president because (a) that's a weirdly aggressive way to treat the poor bartender who was just trying to flatter me by checking my ID, and (b) there are a lot of Trump supporters out there, and I don't have the energy to engage with all of them. But what can I do? I don't want anyone to feel unsafe around me, but I can only get so far in life on a first-name basis, you know?
I've had my name for over 30 years, and I never once imagined that I would change it. During the campaign, I joked around with my parents and brother that we needed to pick a new last name, but I don't think any of us were really serious. It isn't like our name is Hitler, right? Right?!
Basically, I need the universal code or body language for "I know my name is weird, but I promise I'm not a bigot." Any ideas?
Why should I change? He's the one who sucks.
Dear Fellow Disgusted Member Of The Nouns-For-Last-Names Club,
Ugh, I feel you. Well, to an extent. Sharing a full name with a Downton character isn't really comparable, and while I can't claim any relationship to ol' George Bunting and his "no eczema" cream, I don't have to disavow the Snowtown-murders guy either. (Probably. Still waiting on Ancestry DNA to tell me how likely that is.) No relation to Eve; no relation to Basil; no one ever asks in the first place.
But if anyone did care, or I visited Adelaide and started seeing cocked eyebrows when I checked into hotels, I'd probably go with a "nooooo relation" and leave it at that. Your situation is different, as I said; you're really not in a position where the name is going to fall out of the news, and it's not quite common enough a name (i.e., "Flynn" or "Bush") to pass without comment. But many people will understand just how many times you do in fact feel obliged to comment, and not put you in the position; those who do can be met with a cheery "nope! you can tell by the lack of gold plating" or "fake news alert!" or whatever mild wisecrack you feel is appropriate. Try to practice a weary "I tell this joke 15 times a day" tone that signals the topic isn't really open for further riffing, or, on those occasions when a tipsy stranger wants to press the point, have a subject change ("cute scarf!") or shutdown line ("This has been fun; have a great day!") ready to go.
My first instinct upon meeting you, or anyone named Nixon…or Buttz or something like that would be to think, to myself, "Ouch." I think this is probably the first instinct of the majority of people, to think that that's a hassle but not ascribe any beliefs to you based on the coincidence. I imagine it's tough to keep in mind, but as a general rule nobody is spending as much time thinking about us or how we suck as we think they are, so tailor the number of "o"s in your "no relation" as needed and try not to worry too much about it.
Tags: Donald Trump etiquette politix rando