Red is the universal color.
A wise man told me that many years ago. He wore red socks every day.
OK, almost every day. His wife made him change into dark socks to match his tuxedo for a wedding.
This column is devoted to red and dedicated to Valentine’s Day, the Big Red of all holidays. (Christmas is a close second. The Fourth of July has to share the day with white and blue.)
Valentine’s Day has red hearts, red roses and a little red fellow named Cupid. I’ve never seen a yellow Cupid, unless he was jaundiced.
Red has been my favorite color for as long as I can remember. It has run through my veins like … well, like that stuff that runs through my veins. You can’t spell “Red” without “Ed.”
It’s the color of lobsters, lipstick, fire trucks, lady bugs and Dorothy’s ruby-red slippers. Red is the most common color on national flags, which is why it’s all over the map at the Winter Olympics.
I was born with a patch of red hair on my head, so maybe it’s predestination. I now have a few red-headed children and grandchildren.
My first wheels were attached to a red wagon … a Radio Flyer. My first car was a red 1972 Mercury Capri with a black vinyl roof. I spent more than half my childhood playing in the red clay of North Georgia. (My mother never got some of those stains out.)
My alma mater, the University of Georgia, is a Red Sea on football Saturdays. My first job in journalism was working for the college newspaper, The Red & Black.
When I married, our first house was red brick with red trim. For most of my life, I have lived in a red state, politically. My favorite bird is the cardinal. Geraniums are, by far, my favorite flower.
Many of my favorite foods are red – tomatoes, watermelons, apples, strawberries and Nu-Way hot dogs. My beverage of choice for a nightcap is a glass of red wine.
The first pair of flannel pajamas I owned were red. Once upon a time, I had a red corduroy shirt. It was so comfortable I wore it out.
My father’s favorite article of clothing was a red smoking jacket my mother made for him. He did not smoke, but he sure loved that coat.
I still keep enough red in my wardrobe to be fashionable –shirts, ties, a vest and sweater. And, yes, a pair of red socks.
In the spirit of the moment, I’m wearing those socks as I write this. I also have on a red-striped shirt and a red tie. To look at me, I am somewhere between goofy and GQ.
But that’s the way red is … the most ambidextrous color on the wheel. No other color is associated with such extremes. It has the shortest name (three letters) and longest light wave of any color in the rainbow.
On its positive side, red is commonly associated with love, joy, happiness and Santa Claus. When you celebrate, you go out and paint the town red. When something special happens, it’s called a red-letter day. It’s a symbol of courage and sacrifice. Bravery is a red badge of courage.
By contrast, it also means danger. It is life’s subliminal warning light. Hit the brakes at the stop light. Don’t run that stop sign. Check your engine.
The devil wears a red jumpsuit. The Red Baron was a bad guy. You turn red when you’re angry or embarrassed. If you get caught red-handed, you’re in trouble. If it’s red hot, don’t touch it. Red tape is not good. Neither is red ink. If you’re a writer, a red pen is an attack on your words.
Calling someone a redneck either a term of endearment or you consider them to be the dimmest bulb on the tree.
Red is one of the few colors someone will wear through life on their name tag … from Red Skelton to Red Grange. I’ve known several Reds, and they all have been good guys.
A singer named “Pink” sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl last week. Since Pink is a child of Red, that’s keeping it on the same family tree. We should embrace that, since we live in the land of cherry blossoms, affectionately known as Pinkistan.
If I were colorblind, I probably wouldn’t have such an affinity for red. But I’m not, and I do.
Mind your manners. Eat your vegetables. And remember to make room for a little red in your life.
Ed Grisamore teaches journalism and creative writing at Stratford Academy in Macon. His column appears on Sundays in The Telegraph.