Friday, February 04, 2011

Remembering Maria Schneider

Guess maybe Maria Schneider's death yesterday struck me especially hard because, in a profound sense, we were living parallel lives at the time the movie for which she is most famous, "Last Tango in Paris," was released.

Back then, I was a spunky first year graduate student living in a furnished room near Washington Square Park. Like Schneider's character in "Last Tango in Paris," I was involved in an intense, sexual relationship with a man twice my age, and about as old as Marlon Brando was in the film; mid-40's. My lover was a dashing, elegant, European fellow who, on occasion, played chess with Samuel Beckett in Paris.

It's hard to forget our frequent rendezvous at the Chelsea Hotel, making love on velvet lounge chairs surrounded by original art, and bottles of Cognac. At the Chelsea, especially back then, one expected time to stand still as only it does for a great cinematographer. Time moves too fast for the rest of us.

Thanks to fortifying myself with wine, beer, and grilled cheese sandwiches, I was a bit heavier then, so when "Last Tango" came out, friends saw a resemblance between me and Ms. Schneider. But, any similarity there was had little to do with her libidinal verve, but instead her voracious appetite for adventure. She was daringly, and dangerously herself. This must have come through as clearly in life as it did on film.

So, when hearing that the Grim Reaper managed to seduce, and claim her as his own yesterday as Marlon Brando before her, it was as if someone absconded with a piece of my girlhood. Those of us who were young and sassy once along with Maria Schneider are now forced to recognize that we, too, will soon be entering that nameless, anonymous erogenous zone which the Grim Reaper likes to think of as his playground.

Ms. Schneider certainly must have given death a run for his money just as she did Marlon Brando in "Last Tango in Paris." Art often outpaces mortality as only art will outlive us all.