A Dirty Lapdog Joke from Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day

Ruperta Chirpingdon-Groin and her party had descended by way of the St.Gotthard Tunnel from league after league of peaks like ocean waves frozen in place, fading into merciless light, tending to eternity—a circuit of Alpine hotels and hydropathics so remote the hotels had to print up their own postal stamps just to get mail as far as a regular Swiss post office, full of giggling nitwits, quite a number of them British actually, running about the corridors, jumping off balconies into the snowdrifts, hiding in servingpantries and falling down dumbwaiter shafts. They had detrained at Bellinzona, where the motordiligence from the Sanatorium was waiting for them, and so up to the famed institution overlooking the Swiss shores of Lago Maggiore. Goats grazing by the roadside turned their heads to watch them pass, as if long familiar with Böpfli-Spazzoletta clientele. From somewhere came a repeated figure being played on an alpenhorn.

Though he was not ready to share it with his brother, not even Reef had been exempt from the folly up there.

“What kind of a dog’s that?” he asked Ruperta at one point.

“Mouffette? She’s a papillon . . . a sort of French ladies’ lapdog.”

“A—You say,” gears in his mind beginning to crank, “ ‘lap’—French . . . lapdog?” Somehow gathering that Ruperta had trained her toy spaniel to provide intimate “French” caresses of the tongue for the pleasure of its mistress. “Well! you two are . . . pretty close then, I guess?”

“I wuv my ickle woofwoof, ess I doo!” Squeezing the animal tightly, one would think painfully, except for the apparent enjoyment with which Mouffette was fluttering her eyelids.

“Hmm,” said Reef.

“And today I must go across the lake, and the mean old people there won’t allow my ickle pwecious to come with Mummy, and we were both wondering if her good Uncle Reef would look after her for the day, see that she gets her chopped filet and her boiled pheasant, as she’s so particular.”

“Sure, you bet!” His thoughts taking wing. The day alone with a French “lap” dog! who might be more than happy to do for Reef what she was obviously already doing for old ’Pert here! who in fact, mmaybe all this time’s been just droolin’ for onethem penises for a change, and will turn out to know plenty of tricks! Aand—

It took a while for Ruperta to get her toilette perfect and her bustle out the door. Reef found himself pacing and smoking, and whenever he took a look over at Mouffette could’ve sworn she was fidgeting too. The dog, it seemed to Reef, was giving him sidewise looks which if they’d come from a woman you would have had to call flirtatious. Finally after an extended farewell notable for its amount of saliva exchange, Mouffette slowly padded over to the divan where Reef was sitting and jumped up to sit next to him. Jumping on the furniture was something Ruperta seldom allowed her to do, and her gaze at Reef clearly assumed that he would not get upset. Far from it, what he actually got was an erection. Mouffette looked it over, looked away, looked back, and suddenly jumped up on his lap.

“Oboy, oboy.” He stroked the diminutive spaniel for a while until, with no warning, she jumped off the couch and slowly went into the bedroom, looking back now and then over her shoulder. Reef followed, taking out his penis, breathing heavily through his mouth. “Here, Mouffie, nice big dog bone for you right here, lookit this, yeah, seen many of these lately? come on, smells good don’t it, mmm, yum!” and so forth, Mouffette meantime angling her head, edging closer, sniffing with curiosity. “That’s right, now, ooopen up . . . good girl, good Mouffette now let’s just put this—yaahhgghh!”

Reader, she bit him. After which, as if surprised at the vehemence of his reaction, Mouffette jumped off the bed and while Reef went looking for an ice bucket, ran off somehow into the vast hotel. Reef chased her for a while but found it was getting him funny looks from the staff.

In the days that followed, Mouffette took every occasion to jump up in Reef’s lap and gaze into his eyes—sarcastically, it seemed to Reef—opening her mouth suggestively, sometimes even drooling. Each time Reef tried not to flinch. Each time Ruperta, exasperated, would cry, “Honestly, it isn’t as if she means to bite you.”

–A sophomoric, dirty joke from Thomas Pynchon’s novel Against the Day.


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