241. James Gets His Nipple Pierced

chapter 240

After the riots, the producers of The Looters found themselves without a movie title, but one of the film’s stars had a solution.

“So, I was, like, thinking Day Trippers because, like, the whole thing happens on a day trip but also, everybody is, like, tripping about the gold, you know what I mean?”

“Yeah,” the director said. “Yeah, that’s an idea.”

Eventually the producers settled on Trespass. We had a new title and a new ending after the disastrous preview screening. It was time to wrap things up. The music editor set up shop in a cutting room down the hall. The sound editors geared up around ten miles away in West Los Angeles. Optical houses, negative cutters — I was back to driving around town a lot.

I heard that Jody moved back to South Carolina. A year had passed since we broke up. It was time to wrap things up there, too. I dug out her mother’s phone number and dialed.


“Hey, it’s Jim.”

“Do what now?”

“Jim Stafford.”

“Oh. Well hey, hon, how you been? You still out there in California?”

“Yeah, still here. I hear Jody moved back home.”

“Oh yeah. I’m glad to have my baby back home.”

“I bet,” I said. “Is she there?”

“Not right now.”

“Do you know when she’ll be back?”

“She doesn’t live here, hon. I don’t know when she might visit.”

“Oh, do you have her number?”

There was a long pause, and then Jody’s mother said, “I’m sorry, hon, I can’t lie. She asked me not to give it to you, Jim. I’m sorry.”

“Oh. Yeah. No, that’s cool. Tell her I said hi,” I said.

“You take care of yourself, hon,” she said. Her voice conveyed maternal concern rather than Southern pleasantry. I felt bad putting her in such an awkward position.

The last time I saw Jody was shortly after returning from Nashville, just a few months after we broke up. We met for lunch at Louise’s on Melrose, where we sat on the patio and made awkward conversation.

“Have you heard Nirvana?” she asked.

“Yeah, they’re great,” I said, and we busied ourselves avoiding eye contact. “You like Pearl Jam?”

“They’re a bunch of poseurs,” Jody said.

“Did you ever get a tattoo? That’s like a common thing now.”


“What is it?”

“I have two. One is a little flower and the other is just a symbol,” Jody said.

“I told you if you ever get a tattoo I’d get my nipple pierced,” I said.

“That’s so fucking stupid.”

“It’s no different than a tattoo.”

“It’s totally different.”

“Why?” I asked. “Both are just somebody jabbing you with a needle unnecessarily.”

“Because a tattoo is like claiming your body, making it yours,” she said.

“The same can be said for a piercing.”

“I don’t want to talk about this shit again,” Jody said. We sat there quietly. “Did you get the things I sent while you were in Nashville?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

“Why didn’t you reply?”

“I couldn’t,” I said.

“What do you mean you couldn’t?”

“I just couldn’t. I needed some time.”

“It was rude,” Jody said. “It hurt my feelings.”

“Sorry,” I said.

If that was going to be the last time that I talked to Jody I wanted to mark it, so I made an appointment at the Gauntlet in West Hollywood. The place was nice enough, with a little reception area and a jewelry case. “How much is this going to cost me?” I asked.

“Seventy-five plus jewelry,” the counter guy said.

“Do I have to buy the jewelry from you?”

“No, but we recommend it. It’s all high grade surgical steel, less risk of infection.”

“Okay, show me what you got.” The jewelry case was filled with rings, little rods with beads on the ends, and studs.

“You want a captive bead ring for a nipple piercing,” the counter guy said. “Easier to keep clean. You can switch to a barbell when it heals.”

“That one looks cool,” I said.

“The rainbow colored one? I don’t think that’s for you,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Just a guess. Go with a plain steel one.”


He grabbed the jewelry and led me into what looked like a doctor’s office, where a pretty young woman waited. “So what are we doing today?” she asked.

“Nipple piercing,” I said.

“Just one?”

“Let’s see how it goes.”

“Take off your shirt and take a seat on the table,” she said. “This is disinfectant. It’s going to be a little cold.” She cleaned the area and then pinched me until my nipple was erect. “This is going to pinch a little,” she said, and she squeezed my nipple with a surgical clamp.” It didn’t pinch a little. It felt exactly like having my nipple in a surgical clamp.

She grabbed what looked like an envelope and ripped it open. Inside was a long needle. “Okay, you’ll feel a little pain when I push this through. I won’t be too bad, though. We’ll go on three, ready?”


“One. Two. Three.” A little pain nothing. It felt exactly like having someone jab a needle through my nipple.

“Fuck me!” I screamed. She looked at me like I was enjoying this experience a little too much, so I tacked on a quick “that hurt.”

“Okay, now I’m going to push the needle through with the jewelry and we’re done.”

“Hold on a second,” I said.

“Too late, I’m done,” she said. “Here, have a cookie and some orange juice and sit there for a few minutes until your blood sugar is back to normal.”

I rode home with my shirt open so that the fabric wouldn’t flap against my skin. The warm L.A. air felt good. I rode down Melrose, past the last place I saw Jody. Nothing felt wrapped up, just sore.

Categories: Memoir

Tagged as: ,

3 replies »

  1. So there was an actual emotional reason for this decision rather than the, “I just felt like it,” response from my taciturn buddy. Oh, and it turns out it DID hurt, unless “Naw” was southern speak for “Fuck yeah, I screamed.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.