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


CP: It surely is one of the great American pastimes: bringing a trusted friend along when shopping for critical items, from a car to reading glasses.


RN: Especially eyewear. Holding the mirror a few inches from my face isn’t really a viable way to zero in on the ideal pair of Oliver Peoples.


CP: Wasn’t that why they invented the selfie?


RN: You’d think, but it’s also a matter of fit. Kind of like the way a person looks in a car. By the way, count your lucky stars the day I talked you out of buying that Plymouth Voyager. You’re welcome.


CP: How ’bout our friend John? After using the Luddite Defense to resist a smartphone for several years, he broke down last weekend.


RN: Did you feel that? I think the planet just stopped spinning on its axis.


CP: I exceeded posted speed limits driving him to the Sprint store and provided just heaps of helpful information.


RN: What are friends for?


CP: Later, when it came to figuring out its operating-system update, passcode and other complexities, I dropped him like a hot rock.


RN: Here’s hoping he repaid the favor by ignoring you for the next 72 hours while he downloaded apps. But you’re right. Sometimes friends shouldn’t let other friends shop solo. I’m thinking of my most recent shoe purchase, which has turned out to be something of a disaster. Where were you when I needed you? Shopping, probably.


CP: I’m just going to say it: You hurt me when you make an unassisted purchase like that. On the other hand, you have total permission to go it alone on the procurement of yet another stunning crew-neck sweater in navy.


RN: Hey, now.


CP: John Waters knows the importance of the friends-go-shopping experience, as he shows hilariously in movies from “Hairspray” to “Polyester.”


RN: Quick: Are there any purchases that should be made under the cloak of secrecy? Besides the next Nicholas Sparks novel, I mean.


CP: Itch cream?


RN: Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie?


CP: Birth control?


RN: Soap Opera Digest?


CP: After quitting for three years, I sure wasn’t seeking company when I marched over to Super­America for a pack of cigs.


RN: Fortunately, you and your cig-pies were protected by clerk-shopper privilege.


E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib