When I was little, I thought that people with identical last names were related. As you can imagine, 6-year-old Martin was too young (and cute) to know that this simply was not true. I grew up with family members who considered this too adorable to tell me the truth. The ironic part is that I had four classmates who shared the same last name. Instead of telling me “no, that’s not how it works,” my family planted and watered the idea until it could no longer be uprooted. For a whole year, they covered that plant with as much manure as they could; I didn’t know any better. It wasn’t too long before I learned that I shared the last name “VanBuren” with the eighth president of the United States. Even worse, I shared a first name with him too. I couldn’t believe it, I was related to a president of the United States! Then came the uprooting.
My family finally broke the news to me, as if a family pet had died and everyone except for me knew. I was heartbroken; not at the whole “last name equals family,” but the fact that I was not related to a president. It was many years later –this past fall– that I found out that Martin VanBuren (the president) was one of the worst presidents the U.S has ever had. In fact, most citizens blamed him for the 1837 depression; with newspapers calling him “Martin Van Ruin.”
Thankfully, we do not live in a time period where people are knowledgeable about most looked-over presidents (which is also kind of sad).
With that being said, most people DO at least know the names of our presidents. Whenever I introduce myself, nine times out of 10 someone mentions the president and asks whether or not I am related to him. Being the comedian I am, I always answer yes for two reasons. Number one: Nobody can fact check me on it. If I say I’m related, most people are going to believe me. What are they going to do? Check Ancestry.com? Number two: it sounds impressive. Because of the lack of history knowledge, most people don’t know how terrible of a president he was. However, if my name was “Bill Clinton” or “George Bush” I would certainly receive some interesting looks/opinions on the famous individual.
I should let you know right now that I’m not related to the eighth president, at least, we aren’t really sure. My father always says we aren’t related because the president Martin VanBuren was a democrat, but I’m optimistic. If I really am related to him, I wouldn’t be too disappointed, I would just skip over the whole “terrible president” in my answer.