Redbone

One of the things that’s slowing me down just now is a major character, just introduced, who has refused to tell me what he wants to be called. He has a formal first name but it’s not what his friends call him. Every suggestion I make, he disdains. Partially this is a cultural issue: I just don’t know him well enough yet, so we’re in a catch-22. This is a good guy, a native speaker of a couple different languages (including Cajun French and English). A name suggested to me (by Jennet, of all people) was Ranger, but that doesn’t work, either, because she’s not American enough to know all the strange associations that go along with that one. Let me ask you: what associations do you have for the term Redbone? It’s got quite a complex and checkered history, but I’m just wondering about first reactions.

Otherwise we’re having the solstice party this evening and of course that’s taking up time and energy. I have never been so behind before. Not one batch of cookies baked yet, and let me tell you: the girlchild is not happy about that. Also, I wanted to get particular dog beds for the puppy boys (called snuggle balls) and I can’t find them anywhere. Well, okay. I can, but they were ten dollars over suggested retail and forget that.

Boring, eh? So no more of those awful details. Just tell me what jumps to mind (if anything) when you hear “Redbone.”
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Um…I think of the singer Leon Redbone. Not sure how helpful that is, but there you go. Happy Solstice!

Posted by: Suna at December 21, 2004 04:00 PM

Jazz. I don’t know why. I see a couple of old guys with cigars/cigarettes hanging out their mouths jamming. Maybe its just that ‘Redbone’ sounds deep and soulful. Or maybe its just that I need sleep. That’s more likely.

Posted by: Simonne at December 21, 2004 04:30 PM

I just googled ‘Redbone’ out of curiosity, because I’ve never heard the word before. Turns out its a dog breed. Go figure. Looking at the picture though, I can still see my old guys playing jazz. Just with an old dog splayed out in front of them in the sun. (They seem to be sitting in front of a dilapidated store front if you’re curious).

Also, in case you’re wondering where the hell that came from, I cannot be held responsible for the workings of my inner mind :-) Have a fabulous solstice.

Posted by: Simonne at December 21, 2004 04:35 PM

The name didn’t bring anything to mind. Just wondering why someone would use that name.

Posted by: Anne V at December 21, 2004 04:50 PM

Redbone is indeed a breed of coonhound, and a (not very common) last name. There is the singer, of course.

But it’s also a racial term, which seems to have originated in the south. There’s some information here:

http://dogwoodpress.myriad.net/dcm/redbone.html

Posted by: sara at December 21, 2004 04:53 PM

I think of hands or knuckles. Pickin’ and a grinnin’. Toothless. Checkers. Whiskers. Wizen old men. Tattoo. Willy.

Posted by: Deb at December 21, 2004 05:12 PM

No! Please, please don’t use that name. Here in the south there are both redbone and black tick hounds. Don’t ask me the difference. HOWEVER, more particularly, both those names have been used in a pejorative manner to refer to Black/African American men, based on their skin color. Probably most of your audience won’t know that, but if even one black man read your novel….well, I doubt that you would intend to offend. It’s one thing for a black person to call another black person by one of those names, but it’s entirely nuther for a white person to use that term for a human being.

Posted by: asdfg at December 21, 2004 06:51 PM

Ah, blast it! Never hit the post button. You’ll find a big mistake in your words/spelling/whatever. It’s BLUE TICK, not BLACK TICK!

Posted by: asdfg at December 21, 2004 06:56 PM

Raw, meaty, aggressively sexual, dangerous.

Posted by: Pam at December 21, 2004 07:33 PM

Redbone oh no that reminds me of an old retriever dog. Well you did want first impressions.

Posted by: timaru girl nz. at December 21, 2004 07:34 PM

I asked my husband what he thought when he heard the word Redbone – he said “a redneck southerner or sex.”

My mind, however, went straight to the gutter.

Posted by: Lanna Lee Maheux-Quinn at December 21, 2004 08:01 PM

My understanding of the Redbone people is that they were very superstitious, practicing voodoo, and following age old traditions, and “old-wives” tales.
My great-grandmother was Scottish, not Redbone, and one tradition that she handed down was that reading a Bible verse (Ezekiel 16:6) could stop bleeding, keep bees from stinging her husband as he was robbing the hives, etc. If Redbone is a superstitious character, nicknaming him “Zeke” or “Ezekiel” would not be far-fetched at all for Jennet, in my opinion.

Posted by: Martha at December 22, 2004 06:55 AM

Redbone, yes … of course Leon. But, just maybe this good guy, who knows the Cajun French language should have this unique bayou dialect in his nickname. There are so many wonderful cajun folklore stories rich in cultural diversity. Explore some maps of the bayous and their heritage. Now this was great swamp living!
I hope he speaks to you soon.

From a native of New Orleans, detouring via Virginia, for now.

Jane

Posted by: Jane Jobe at December 22, 2004 11:34 AM

I think of a BBQ restaurant named “Redbones”.

They have a cool, oldfashioned red truck for making deliveries.

um… here it is: redbones.com

Posted by: Danielle at December 23, 2004 01:29 PM

Sometimes it works if you try translating your words into another language (French, in this case).

For example, Babelfish says ‘Redbone’ is ‘os rouge’.

‘Ranger’ is ‘garde forestier.’

Something to play with, anyway.

What is the character’s formal first name, if you don’t mind telling?

Posted by: wordlover at December 23, 2004 02:59 PM

Whew, my only associations were Leon and the hound — but I find: “Used by darker-colored Blacks to refer to Blacks with a very light complexioni” from the “racial slurs database” (which is a pretty good list of Words Not To Use, including a few terms for Italians, btw) http://gyral.blackshell.com/names.html

Posted by: robyn at December 23, 2004 07:08 PM

Redbone?…Santeria!

Posted by: Joyce at December 23, 2004 08:03 PM

In Louisiana, os rouge or red bones were free people of color who were of black and indian ancestry.

Posted by: Os Rouge at April 16, 2005 02:29 PM

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