Dr. Hannibal Lecter may have been a ruthless serial killer with a taste for human flesh, but more importantly he was my role model. It’s true. Hannibal the Cannibal taught me to be a lady. My mom may try to take credit but in all honesty her tactics were pretty boring. My most memorable and valuable lessons on class and etiquette all came from a cannibalistic psychopath. Sure, he famously convinced the young Mason Verger to cut off his own face and feed it to dogs but I sort of admire that. I can’t even get Discover Card to remove my late payment fees and I’ve been a valued customer since 1996.
I would even go so far as to say all women could learn from the man who ate parts of his own sister – a feat I’m sure some of us have been tempted to do at least once.
If you don’t have time to read Thomas Harris’s body of works or to spend a Saturday afternoon watching one good movie and three mediocre ones, here is my summary of this iconic character’s valuable lessons on elegance, grace and social class. Please put these tips in your mind like those starving girls put the lotion in the basket.
Don’t wear cheap shoes
You may have sprung for that B.Makowsky bag on your last trip to TJ Maxx but if you swung by Payless for the BOGO on your way home, you’ve screwed the pooch. Dr. Lecter taught me a lady with a good bag and cheap shoes is just a well-scrubbed, hustling rube. Personal experience has taught me her feet stink. Ditch the second-rate duds and you’ll elicit compliments like “Love your suit”.
Mind your Table Manners
Even when serving a lobotomized Paul Krendler for dinner, Dr. Lecter treated the event like a wine and fondue affair. I always remind myself if a murderous villain can use a shrimp fork to eat brain, the least I can do is put my napkin in my lap.
Serve the proper wine
If you’re having some old friends for dinner don’t spoil it by serving the wrong wine. Always select a wine to compliment your dish. Thanks to Dr. Lecter I always consult my pairing chart before a meal. Try serving a rare filet mignon with Pinot Noir or liver and fava beans with a nice Chianti.
Don’t be rude
A lady is never rude. A lady also knows if you’re rude to the wrong person they may disembowel you.
Most importantly, the monster in disguise taught me a lady can be more than one thing. Hannibal Lecter was a refined gentleman, brilliant psychiatrist and a cannibalistic serial killer. I’m a well-mannered and considerate lady with high standards of proper behavior but that isn’t all I am. I’m also a brazen woman who is shamelessly defiant, outspoken and a defending arm wrestling champion (I bite, another lesson from Hannibal).
Thank you Dr. Lecter for teaching me you can be impeccably dressed, polite and articulate and still have that “don’t f*@k with me” factor.