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


CP: There’s a mental picture, perhaps inspired by a throwback Thursday on your Facebook, of Rick at 6, cone-shaped hat held atop your head by a rubber-band chinstrap, surrounded by scores of wee peers and preparing to blow out candles on a homemade birthday cake. Is this a fair depiction?


RN: I have fading black-and-white Kodak snapshots to prove it. Like just about every kid, I spent the better part of the year looking forward to my birthday, and my parents — Mom, in particular — always made it special. I imagine that, being her favorite offspring, Joanie went all-out in the over-the-top department on your day of days.


CP: Birthdays around our house were more of an afterthought. What piñata? What trampoline, magician and bouncy castle? We might get a cake, but it was more of a family thing than a big party with friends.


RN: It’s funny, because as much as I adored the Natal Day adoration when I was a youngster, this Gemini has spent most of his adult years not giving a rat’s patootie about it. Attending my own birthday party is right up there with signing up for one of our gym’s hideous two-hour spinning classes. As in, I can’t think of anything I’d rather not do.


CP: We have not been able to get you to blow one of those party horns for years. Not for lack of trying. With so many birthdays flying through the air, it seems a tad unseemly to make too much of it, especially as grown-ups. You did host a big, embarrassing fête for me on my 50th a couple of years ago.


RN: A “couple”? Whatever. Anyway, I’m all about other people’s birthdays. Pull me into a surprise birthday party planning session, and I’m on it, big time.


CP: But what do you make of big bashes for those of a certain age? While I generally oppose the notion, I did have a hoot of a time at a friend’s party at a rented art gallery, which was billed as an “FU 60” event, complete with snacks, DJ, cocktails and Botox.


RN: The landmark b-days cannot be ignored. My siblings and I recently dedicated an overnight road trip to celebrate our brother’s 50th — I still can’t believe my beautiful baby brother is 50 — and it was great. But would I want to do the same on my plain-old 54th? Um, no.


CP: I suppose, but is one intrinsically more interesting and noteworthy at 50 than they were at 49?


RN: Well, I know I was.


CP: I, for one, always specify “please, no gifts over $50.” I think that helps keep things in perspective.


RN: And here I thought you were going to say “please, no gifts under $50.”


CP: The whole gift thing. As in, how old must a niece or nephew get before Uncle is no longer on the hook for anything more than a heartfelt card on a birthday?


RN: Tricky. I mean, I adore them, so I want to lay on the doodads for forever, but post-college age, it just feels odd. Maybe I should just bake them a cake. I know which one: Aunt Louise’s Chocolate Cake. It’s the recipe that my mother relied upon for our special occasions. I’ll bake it for you sometime.


CP: Sounds dee-lish, but give it to those svelte nephews of yours. At my age, and under strict doctor’s orders, I must remain entirely carb-free.


E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib