This is my irreplaceable, beautiful, brilliant cousin Ruby.
I will never forget the day in 1996 when my mother said, “I have big news – Aunt Boz is pregnant!” All I ever wanted, growing up, was a cousin – another human from my planet to add to my brood.
When I heard the news, I bawled. One of the happiest days of my youth, bar none. And I didn’t even know then that she would grow up into such a sweet, brilliant, beautiful creature.
She is now in her second year at the University of Edinburgh. Ruby grew up in New York City, but decided – wisely – not to be one of those Americans who never leaves America. Smart girl. And of course I was thrilled, given that I adore Scotland.
Last year she told me about the people in her student halls, including a big gang of (what else) weird boys who went to male-only boarding school (ugh). You know the type. The ones who treat women like another species because they have spent so little time around them. Who instantly assume a right to status and power because it’s been drilled into them that they are entitled to it. You know the type.
One of the boys had the audacity to mock her with the nickname “Fox News Girl”.
I nearly burst into flames in a bout of rage-induced spontaneous combustion.
“FOX NEWS GIRL?! How fucking DARE they?!”
“No, no, he was teasing but he wasn’t being THAT mean,” replied the Ruby, who is so good-natured and sweet-tempered that she couldn’t even begin to comprehend why somebody would be so vicious to her without good reason.
“No. Ruby. It’s not a friendly jibe. They are being vicious: they see your hair and hear your accent, and instantly presume they are more intelligent, because daddy paid for their schooling so therefore it must be worth something. I’ve dealt with that garbage from posh upper class boys since the moment I arrived – they see my hair and hear my voice and instantly presume intellectual superiority. Kelley will tell you the same about her time living in London. It’s incessant, and such a force of habit, it’s as though being mindlessly condescending and misogynistic is a reflex action. Often they don’t even realise they are doing it. Even worse, they are making fun of you in the most nasty, quintessentially English way possible: a manner they think is subtle, and which you might misconstrue as affectionate teasing, which therefore makes the put-down twice as funny. Where the fuck are these boys? I will come up there right now and slit their fucking throats. Nobody can speak to you like that.”
Ruby is a Walsh and therefore is not cursed with the burden of having a temper. Or the ability to readily spot bullies.
*I* however am a Cormier, have inherited the genes of boxers, gymnasts, death metal promoters, and a wide variety of maniacs. Once upon a time I was a baseball pitcher. I know how to throw a punch. I take pride in not losing my temper at my friends or lovers – but if provoked I know how to do it.
So I am more than happy to let loose explosive rage on an appropriate target in her defense. I would have gotten physically violent with any of those boys on her behalf, given the chance.
Three months later, in April 2016, in the middle of her exams:
“Oh my god, Zoe you were right. Those were the most horrible boys I have ever met. I knew they were kind of mean but I didn’t realise just how awful and heartless. I went to give money to a homeless guy and they told me not to, saying he ‘chose’ that lifestyle. They are HORRIBLE and I don’t speak to any of them any more.”
“It’s ok Ruby – you just didn’t realise how awful they are because you weren’t raised to be an asshole yourself. This just speaks to how good natured you are. Just remember to pity them: their punishment is they have to be themselves.”
So. Cherry on the cake: my irreplaceable, beautiful, brilliant cousin Ruby got a 1st, and crushed all those snobby creeps in the academic standings by a goddamned mile.
Take that you little snots.
I wanted her to give the middle finger with me in this pic, but she’s too sweet for that – so I’m more than happy to do it for the both of us.
Deepest love and respect, Ruby Walsh, you singular, spectacular you.