Hue and Cry

By James Dent

I was looking through a catalog and spotted a sports shirt I liked "available in cypress, delft, gourd, stone, cayenne, gravel, and hermelyn." What? I know cayenne pepper is red, so that must mean red, and I've heard of delft blue. But what color, in the name of Crayola, is cypress? Or gourd? Or gravel?

I'm even more baffled by hermelyn. Is it animal, vegetable or mineral? Would you wear it to a ballgame?

It's only recently that I've been able to come to terms with fuchsia, taupe, and oatmeal. Whatever happened to red, green, blue, and yellow? They were plain, ordinary, American colors. If you asked for a blue shirt - dark blue, light blue, or medium blue - you knew what you were going to get.

Wait. I've looked further into the catalog. Here's a sweater that comes in cherub, Halloween, oxblood, or bear heather. Picture this: you're standing around with the guys, and one says, "Hey that's a nice sweater. What color is it?"

If you answer, "Why, it's cherub," you may have to move to another town.