On Sunday I introduced myself to a man who was likely in his mid-50s. His reaction was typical.
“Ralph? Really? I haven’t ever met a Ralph under 40 years old. Are you sure?”
Yes. I am fairly sure my name is Ralph.
His reaction was appropriate considering the popularity of the name has waned for a variety of understandable and appropriate reasons (Cough, A CHRISTMAS STORY, cough). In the 1940s, Ralph was the 44th most popular boys name. That dropped to 66th in the 50s, and out of the top 100 altogether by the 60s. Thinking on this exchange led me to Google, where I sought to find a Ralph amongst the interwebs that was younger than I.
“Could the name die with me?” I thought, as I input “young Ralph,” which was in no way a helpful Google search– although I did learn that there is an Atlanta based hip-hop artist named YUNG RALPH. He has an album called “Most Unexpected,” which he says “is the perfect name for my album. Cause every move I make is completely unexpected.”
But Ralph- wouldn’t they expect you to name your album “Most Unexpected” if everything you do is unexpected? You should have gone with “Unicorn Diarrhea.” They would never see that coming.
Anyway, if you’re interested, here’s a sample of Young Ralph’s work, and I must say, it’s the catchiest song about distributing illegal narcotics that I’ve heard all day.
Since that search wasn’t helpful, and because I’m easily sidetracked, I decided to Google my last name. I’m aware of how the “Amsden” last name made its way onto the North American continent, but what I was surprised to learn is that we have both a family crest, and a family motto.
Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum
Apparently this is Latin for “No steps backward.”
How badass is that? It drips with perseverance and determination. I wish I had known about this as a youngster- or even 10 minutes ago when I gave up on finding out if I was America’s youngest Ralph after one Google search in favor of watching several YouTube videos from Atlanta’s hip-hop underground.
It’s a great motto, but it doesn’t really fit me, or my children. My sons and I are the type to poke a hornet’s nest, both literally and metaphorically. Since I don’t want my kids turning out like Macauley Caulkin’s character in My Girl, they need to know it’s OK to take a step back, or even turn and run when need be.
I did some research (more Googling), and learned that “Lapsus” is Latin for “err or fall,” and “Prodeo” means to “advance or go forward.” I think “fall forward” is a perfect motto for me and my people. Assume that mistakes will be made, but show progress in the process of making them (or cleaning up after them).
Is “Lapsus Prodeo” as cool as “Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum?” No, but it’s definitely more representative and realistic.
Maybe I’ll even reach out to YUNG RALPH and suggest it as the name for his next album. That would certainly be “Most Unexpected.”