I’ve already mentioned HB to you – here – but he deserves a proper introduction.
A good way to describe HB is to compare him to Prince. The two men have a lot in common, but their approach to things is very different. In the regal paradigm of naming, HB’s title would be “King”. Where Prince glides through life with ease, grace and an air of insouciance, everything about HB is heavy, hard, solid, dead serious and set in stone. He even looks this way. The kingly image on the right is HB to a T – less high heels, stockings and raven locks, obviously. If he were to take on responsibility for an empire, every last stray dog in the realm could depend on him, but the place wouldn’t be fun. For the first half a year I was absolutely sure he has no sense of humour. The first time I saw him laugh was in February, during our Cornwall holiday. We were up early in the morning to be on time for Eden Project. I was still fumbling in my clothes, half asleep and grumpy, when he walked into the bedroom, all dressed, bright and breezy, with a smile on his face. ‘Oh stop smiling, it’s inappropriate before 10 am!’ I grumped*. And yes, he laughed – inappropriately, as you understand.
Our first date was quite late in the evening with no chance of a dinner out, so we’d agreed that we’d cook something. There was a small kitchen in his temporary Edinburgh home, I brought some vegetables, we made a salad and sat down to eat. All the while he was acting like this is completely normal. I’m not saying it’s not normal: people making a meal and eating together is one of the first things that made us different from animals, nothing is more normal than this. But when it comes to sex work, it’s not the sort of stuff you engage in on the first date. Most of my first dates are spent trying to reassure clients and make them feel comfortable around me, cooking only happened twice. I suppose it’s one of those things that people usually do in their family circle, and sharing it with a stranger is weird – far more weird than having sex with that stranger. But it wasn’t the last time HB showed that his line between personal from public isn’t that well-defined. The time when I had to explain it to him why it’s not ok to walk in on someone in the bathroom – even if you’ve already seen this person naked and even had sex with them – is proof enough.
And you probably want to know what HB stands for. Not Hamish Buccleugh or other hard to pronounce Scottish name. In fact, it’s not a name at all, but he does sign his e-mails as HB closer to our coming dates. Everything is simple. He got this nickname during our second date. It was a crispy cold November afternoon; I texted to let him know that I’m in a cab and should be there in 10 minutes.
HB: I’m waiting outside for you.
Jewel: Go inside, you’ll freeze your balls off!
HB: My balls are hot!! I want to greet you when you arrive.
Jewel: Well hello, Hot Balls!
* A totally valid claim.