Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.
CP: Six high schoolers spill out of Buca in their graduation glad-rags. Their carefree laughter fills a spring evening. Their unburdened joy. Why, then, do I mostly recall high school as Nine Circles of Humiliation?
RN: Because your adolescent nerd-caterpillar had not yet molted into your adult self’s Monarch-like fabulousness.
CP: Your flattery is the more gratifying because you dispense it so sparingly. But, going back to the main point here, I imagine you were the president of Pep Club and the volunteer chairman of Burnsville High’s annual candy drive.
RN: Yes, I was the drip who hauled boxes of near-inedible chocolate bars from chem lab to industrial arts, raising do-re-mi for the International Thespian Society.
CP: I was the guy skulking in the bushes behind the gymnasium, having a cigarette.
RN: I would have pegged you a “burn-out” and considered it social suicide to be seen speaking with you. No offense.
CP: I might have sneered at your preppy attire while secretly envying your popularity. I didn’t fit in with jocks, nerds, brains or the Lagniappe crowd. Even the burn-outs were a bit too burned out for me. Meanwhile, what gays?
RN: Exactly. As for popularity, this teenage geek spent his high school years gazing at The Beautiful People from afar, a lowly mortal regarding the denizens of Mount Olympus. Now I have to study the pages of the “Kotka” — our yearbook — to remember their names. Does that make me sound like the embittered nobody that I am?
CP: Ditch the false modesty, hombre. You could restaurant-review the pants off every single one of your former classmates. Does BHS give out honorary doctorates?
RN: I’m surprised I was handed a diploma, given my affection for truancy. My only memory of graduation is that the girl seated next to me cried through the entire ceremony, a waterworks display I found puzzling, since I couldn’t get out of Burnsville fast enough.
CP: My best memory of graduation was my outfit: a white tux coat, black bowtie, red carnation.
RN: That photo is priceless, and it’s not just your Sommerfest-horn-section attire, center-part hairdo and adorable Jan Brady eyewear, but also the — gasp — girlfriend.
CP: Like you, I had high school in the rearview mirror within minutes after the ceremony, and I left town two months later. Since you live in the same metro area where you went to high school, I imagine you remain in close contact with plenty of friends from then.
RN: Only because I was part of a bizarre but life-changing burlesque-meets-“Up With People” show. We toured the prison circuit — something like 40 penal institutions in 14 states — and that intense shared experience resulted in lots of lifelong affection. That was my gay-straight alliance, 1977 edition.
CP: I think Juliet Prowse said it best: “Once a high kicker, always a high kicker.”
Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib