"I wrote 63 songs this year. They're all about Jeter." Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls' Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don't forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: February 22, 2017

Submitted by on February 22, 2017 – 8:23 AM14 Comments

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.

Be Sociable, Share!



  • No Relation says:

    I feel you as I share a last name with the much-hated owner of the local NFL franchise. When I introduce myself in contexts where there might be confusion, or if I see the eyebrow start to go up, I just add a quick "no relation" and laugh. Generally, the other person laughs as well and we move on to more important and much more interesting matters.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Ugh, your non-relation ruins EVERYTHING. He even ruins names!

    I suppose you could make a joke about how your rampant radical liberal feminism "trumps" his crap worldview but I can see how exhausting that shit would get. In, like, a day.

  • Amy says:

    I would also hope that a "No relation" would be sufficient in most situations. Especially if you say it matter-of-fact-ly, it should signal to people on all points of the political spectrum that you're not interested in defending or denouncing the president, and would just like to go about your day.

  • Dukebdc says:

    I worked for a man with the last name of Dupont. "Oh not those DuPonts," he would say, "I'm descended from the poor Duponts." Making light of it is the best offense, I'd say. Say you're from the non-tweeting Trumps or the non-douchebag Trumps or the Amish Trumps – whatever you think would fly given the specific situation.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    You can try to call The Amish Trumps as your band name but I WILL fight you.

  • caffeine72 says:

    I have the same first and last names as an actress who was a big deal in the '80s. The fact that I was like 12 and she's foreign helped, but I still pulled the "no relation" card regularly, or joked about not having done things she was famous for (on screen).

  • Jen S. 2.0 says:

    Before even reading Sars' response, I thought of Babs and Buster Bunny. "No relation," with a little sigh and a world-weary smile would go a long way. That's pretty neutral, in my opinion. Your reaction doesn't have to be positive or negative or about 45.

    Yes, it sucks, and it's unfair, and I'm sorry.

  • The Opposition Trump says:

    Thanks for the support, guys.

    I think what's bothering me is that back in the Apprentice days, I had the funny one-liner *down*. Sure, I had a lot of repetitive conversations about my name, but there's nothing I like more than making people laugh, so I enjoyed it. Now I have zero sense of humor about the whole thing.

    I just need to practice saying "no relation" in a neutral tone. Right now it comes out sounding like I want to murder someone. Which, uh. Is a little over the top.

  • mspaul says:

    My dad's name was Ron Paul, so I feel your pain to a small extent. Usually if people ask if I'm related to noted douchebag Rand Paul, I reply with, "No, but I do like to sometimes tell people that I'm the heiress to the Mrs. Paul's fish stick fortune." Or the Les Paul guitar empire, if I think they'll get the reference. I know it's hard to have a sense of humor in the current climate, but you can always just say, "I'm Joan Trumpnorelation, I'm thinking of officially changing it to that on my license." That way you're staying neutral but still injecting some slight humor.

  • AF says:

    How does your family feel about changing the pronunciation, ala Young Frankenstein?

    Actually, it's "Tr-yoomp"

  • The Opposition Trump says:

    I like it, AF! My mother once argued for Von Trump, but I think that just sets us up for Sound of Music jokes. My vote's for switching to Drumpf and confusing the heck out of everyone.

    Silver lining: no one ever, ever misspells my name.

  • Brickton says:

    I have a somewhat related last name issue in that mine sounds an awful lot like Focker. When I get ID'ed or give my last name maybe a third of the time someone really wants to get into a joke with me about it. With friends it's funny, with co-workers you smile and go with it, with random strangers it's tiresome at best.

    My advice is to give the best dead-eyed, deadpan response, which in my case would be "It's Yiddish" but for you maybe "No relation, I know." I've rarely had anyone push the issue past that, but staring them down silently if they continue for a few seconds seems to stop that as well. Basically looking as tired of responding to it as you actually are.

  • Missicat says:

    My last name is Nathan, unfortunately not related to Nathan's Famous. *sigh* My father grew up in Brooklyn so I imagine it was much worse for him.

  • RJ says:

    Hmm…. "No, we're actually Swedish (Scandanavian? I'm not good at this) – we pronounce it Troomp"? Okay, that might be like what AF suggested.

    Triumph? SAY IT'S PRONOUNCED TRIUMPH!!!! (As in, triumph over orange-haired evil!) (lol)

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>