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Minnie and Paul always seem to get along famously.

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Withering Glance: Play nice, Twin Cities

  • March 29, 2013 - 2:38 PM

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

CP: Why can’t Minneapolis and St. Paul just get along? They are twins, after all.

RN: Sibling rivalry never dies, does it? Look at Ladies Mary and Edith on “Downton Abbey.” Polite, upper-class smiles on the outside, but beheath the surface? Seething disdain.

CP: Surely the bitterness between our two towns should have eased when a consensus was reached that Minneapolis was the favored twin. And that was in 1913.

RN: That was back when census figures were a near-violent point of contention. Today, I ask you if you can name the population of either burgh. Go ahead. I’ll give spot you 50,000 plus-or-minus.

CP: Uncle.

RN: Census data put Minneapolis at about 380,000, St. Paul near 288,000. That makes Minneapolis better, right? That’s how I felt when I was growing up in suburban Minneapolis in the 1970s. St. Paul might as well have been on Mars, such was the metro area’s deep psychological divide. Or at least the one in my imagination.

CP: How cruelly you ignore the Winter Carnival, St. Paul’s Bolshoi. I picture you running to Dayton’s in downtown Minneapolis as soon as you were tall enough to see over the Lancôme counter.

RN: You wager correctly. Meanwhile, you chose to attend college in St. Paul. Was that decision more about getting the heck out of Chicago, or answering the Saintly City’s siren call?

CP: I lived in a series of cheap St. Paul rentals during and after my halcyon days at old Macalester. Then I moved to a series of cheap rentals in Minneapolis, where at least I was no longer 12 miles away from anything I might wish to do. Recently, I took my niece, who wants to move here from Green Bay, on a driving tour of St. Paul, and every one of those dumps remains.

RN: I wonder how each city would describe the other. “Shallow” is how I picture St. Paul sniffing about its western upstart. “Who?” is what I imagine Minneapolis might snottily ask.

CP: One difference I have noticed — and I bet this results from decades of slights and neglect — is that the St. Paulite has a deep and abiding pride of place. Your Minneapolis dweller just presumes he or she lives on the right side of the river and doesn’t think much about it. I guess, in the end, we all freeze together — from Cottage Grove to Maple Grove.

RN: Don’t tell anyone, but when I’m out of town and someone asks me where I live, I automatically respond, “Minneapolis,” despite my Mac-Groveland address. It’s just easier that way, but I fear that, for a St. Paulite, it’s a tad self-loathing.

CP: As ever, your secret’s safe with me.

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

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