If your name is Linda, then you have a problem: today, you are endangered; tomorrow, you may be extinct. Linda means beautiful in Spanish but nobody seems to agree any more.
"In the 1950s it was number one in America and the second most popular name in England and Wales. But since the 1970s it's dropped off the charts," says Linda Dusenbery of Des Moines, Iowa. The Office of Population Censuses and Surveys confirms that Linda has been out of Britain's top 20 since the Sixties and out of the top 100 since the Seventies.
But the Lindas of this world are uniting. Last weekend saw their ninth annual convention at the Hotel Savery, on Fourth and Locust in Des Moines. There are advantages to such a do: no name tags and everyone is on first- name terms.
Linda Pasvogle, of Fenton, Illinois, had the idea. "She kept running into Lindas and they were all about her age - she's now 49 - and so she thought: why not get a bunch of Lindas together? I tell you it's really a hoot," says Linda (Dusenbery). There is a Linda scholarship, bequeathed and received by the like-named. There is a Linda newsletter, a Linda mailing list of 1,500.
The Lindas have a song. It topped the chart in 1948, and goes like this, in case you have forgotten:
When I go to sleep
I never count sheep
I count all the charms
This was said to be written by Jack Laurence for a little girl named Linda Eastman, later McCartney, who is possibly the only famous vegetarian Linda in the world.
The picture is bleak in politics, sport and Hollywood. Lynda Chalker and Lynda La Plante (both of whom fit the Linda profile) take a deduction on vowels.
There is nothing really naff about the name. A royal couple (when there is one) could revive it in one quick baptism. A star named Linda could be born any day. Paula Yates could see sense before Heavenly becomes hell. Cherie may change her name by deed poll; Hillary may have a change of heart.
But why trust to luck when you can fix the odds? The new "My Twinn" dolls, which were sweeping the United States for at least a day or two last week, are made-to-order copies of real girls. You simply send in a photo and a Twinn team starts cloning. It's not cheap at $129, but you do get to name it. The Linda doll looms.
This year's Rebecca, Lauren, Sophie, Charlotte and Emily could be the next generation's Linda. That is the Linda lesson.
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