A mark on her face the size of a hand

Started to read Nabokov’s Laughter in the Dark.

It’s really quite charming; I haven’t read a modern novel in a long time. Nabokov’s control of language is just incredible. There was a device that stuck out wonderfully in the opening chapters. The husband’s response to flouting (of conversational maxims) by his wife is usually “Just dropped from the moon?” This seemed odd, until I got to the description of his future mistress’s childhood: “the sky was there, just waiting for her to star.” Beautiful.

But what made me stop and blog was the association created by a different description:

Frau Levandovsky, an elderly woman of good proportions with a genteel manner, albeit marred by a certain fruitiness of speech, and a large purple blotch on her cheek the size of a hand: she used to explain it by her mother’s being frightened by a fire whilst expecting her.

There was a young girl in one of my classes last semester who comes close to this description. She was a very religious girl, genteel and very Arkansan, who had a birthmark that covered at least 30% of her face. She got married during the course of the class, and her wedding video was used as part of her final project. When the groom kissed the bride, there were huge shouts from the crowd. She explained that she and her husband had never kissed before, only held hands.

That was perhaps the oddest example of the impact of religion I’ve ever heard. She said it was actually her husbands idea. They wanted everything to be “new” when they got married. Jaws all around the room dragged the floor in disbelief, but incredible as it sounds, I do believe her. But it still freaks me out. I wanted to write it down while I still remembered it.

I can’t imagine having that much self-control. I wasn’t the only one in the room that felt that way.